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Comedian Alex Edelman is ‘very dismayed’ by Israel’s vote to cut judicial power

There ‘is a minority bloc subverting the will of the people,’ he says after Broadway performance

Alex Edelman, the Jewish comedian with a solo Broadway show about antisemitism, said Tuesday night that he is “very dismayed” by the Israeli parliament’s vote to curtail the Supreme Court’s power and thinks there “is a minority bloc subverting the will of the people.” 

“I’m really disappointed in the results,” said Edelman, noting that he participated in a march on Sunday in New York protesting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul. 

Edelman, 34, grew up in a modern Orthodox home in Brookline, Massachusetts, and attended a yeshiva in Israel after high school. His brother, A.J., competed for Israel in skeleton at the 2018 Winter Olympics. He has said that his next solo show would be “about Israel-Palestine.”

He was asked about the latest developments in Israel during a talk-back after Tuesday evening’s performance of Just for Us, which chronicles his infiltration of a white-supremacist meeting in Queens.

Edelman called the question about Israeli politics “lose-lose.”

“As someone who cares deeply about Israel, I want it to reflect the values that I think a Jewish state should embody,” he said, prompting an eruption of applause. “I’m also very aware — this makes me no less passionate about the issue — but I’m very aware that there are intricacies of Israeli law that Americans don’t quite understand and there are needs within that society that have been, I think, festering for a long time. 

“And so the issue is that, like, nothing is exact, and things are painful, but, you know, so I’m holding those two things at once,” Edelman continued. 

“On one hand, I’m very dismayed by what’s happening and I think these are manifestations of an existential crisis, which is the struggle between secular elements of Judaism and the more religious conservative elements of Judaism within the state. And also understanding that I’m an American, who went to college instead of the Army, and has lived here for most of his life.”

“Sorry, it’s not a great answer,” he added. The crowd clapped again.

The audience included his former summer camp counselor, Kenny, who asked Edelman what happened to his dream of one day owning a baseball team. The comedian then brought out from backstage his former boss and mentor from his time working for the Boston Red Sox as a teenager, Charles Steinberg, who is now president of the Worcester Red Sox, a minor league team sometimes called the WooSox.

Edelman said Steinberg, who he calls “Dr. Charles,” taught him that “the intersection of passion and talent is “genius.” For Edelman, the intersection involved writing and performance.

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