One of comedy’s biggest names, Joan Rivers, has died. Stars stood around the block for her funeral, and we look back on the comedienne’s religious beliefs.
Though her outspoken beliefs and routines sometimes landed her in hot water, she was never one to mince words. Whether it was traditional gender roles or even religion, she took an unbridled approach to a wide variety of topics. She is remembered as she lived: bold and uninhibited with a Hollywood flare.
A Funeral Fit for a Star
Joan Rivers openly stated that when she died she wanted the funeral of a Hollywood celebrity, and hers delivered. It was a star-studded event and more a celebration of her life than a time to mourn her death. With a eulogy by Howard Stern and songs performed by Audra McDonald and Hugh Jackman, the funeral had many celebrities in attendance. Fellow comedians Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, and Kathy Griffin, television stars Kathie Lee Gifford, Barbara Walters, and Diane Sawyer, and, of course, her daughter, Melissa Rivers, were just a few of the many celebrities from all forums of fame who attended the funeral at New York’s Fifth Avenue synagogue, Temple Emanu-El.
Joan Rivers’ Religion
One of the greatest sources of pride in Joan Rivers’ life was her Jewish heritage. She was born in New York City and then later moved to Larchmont with her family, where her father helped to establish one of the first synagogues in the growing town. She had a childhood that was spent working within the Jewish community, a place she had to rely upon after she had a terrible fight with her family.
A Source For Material
Like many other prominent Jewish comedians, Joan Rivers used her Jewish roots as material in many of her shows. Some of these jabs were lighthearted, but many other jokes landed her in hot water over the years for disparaging the religion and jesting about horrific events that had befallen the Jewish faithful. However, Joan Rivers was as quick to defend herself as she was to come up with jokes, citing that the true damage to Jewish people were those who are actually anti-Semitic.
A Changing World
During Joan Rivers’ life, she was able to witness some of the most trying times for the Jewish people and came away with a unique worldview. One of the areas of her faith that she never wavered upon was her support of Israel. The nation has been facing a great deal of trouble since its inception and has often slipped from the mindset of the people in the United States.
However, Joan Rivers was always one to remind the world about the constant danger that faced Israel. In one of her final diatribes on the subject, she revealed that she did not believe that the Obama administration was doing enough to ensure that Israel would remain safe. Like other supporters, she reveres Israel as a bastion of endurance against a world that often appears hostile and indifferent. With her death, many people have taken up her calls for more and continued support of Israel, especially in the ongoing conflict with Hamas.