Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

Sarah Silverman’s Devastating Mother’s Day Tribute To Non-Biological Moms

Comedian Sarah Silverman is kind of our collective beloved Jewish child — we think everything she does is gorgeous, above-average, and maybe should qualify her to be president.

But even if you don’t regard the 48-year-old comic as a kind of high-ponytailed messiah, you have to admit that the Mother’s Day tribute she posted to Instagram on Sunday was soul-stirring, and quietly powerful.

Silverman has spoken extensively about her closeness with her mother Beth Ann, who passed away in 2015. In her memoir and in interviews, Silverman has described her mother’s beauty, her brilliance, her work ethic, her many talents, and, of course, the pain of her loss.

So it was surprising to look at the star’s Instagram on Sunday and see, not a picture of Beth Ann Silverman, but instead a picture of a blonde woman named Janice. Janice is Silverman’s step-mother — she’s been married to Silverman’s father Donald for over 40 years. And she’s also the comedian wrote with piercing emotion, a mother to Silverman, and a friend, and the woman who held her mother’s hand on her death bed.

Those of us who were overly influenced by step-mother dynamics in “The Parent Trap,” take note. Step-parents can be real parents. Non-biological moms are moms. There is room in your life for as many people as you care to let in.

Family members don’t have to share blood. Though in the case of Silverman’s mother and step-mother, they did. It’s nice to remember, as Mother’s Day passes through with complex feelings for non-biological parents, those dealing with loss, and anyone who has ever mothered or benefitted from one — more than one person can be your “whole heart.”

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.