Heavier hitters than me have spilled ink to say goodbye, but I can’t let this moment go without adding my voice to the chorus, particularly since I quietly said “goodbye” a while ago.
There was a time when I didn’t miss a single episode. Before choosing a vacation spot, I’d insist on staying in hotels that offer Comedy Central. Among my keepsakes I include a recorded episode of the Daily Show that aired the day my first child was born.
Then last summer, something changed. When the world started to show its fangs toward Israel, when college campuses decided to provide warm homes to organized Bigotry, Defamation and Slander (that’s what BDS stands for, right?), when social media started to suffocate under the weight of casual, unquestioned anti-Semitism, Jon Stewart didn’t say a word.
He has spoken up for veterans, he has spoken up for Iranians, but he did not speak up for Jewish kids who are being bullied daily—just as he reportedly once was—for simply being Jewish.
Stewart’s views on Israel don’t comport with mine. That’s fine. I can listen to, respect and laugh at well-written jokes that I don’t agree with. But I can’t laugh at silence. Silence isn’t funny.
I believe Jon Stewart had an obligation to say something about the bullying on college campuses and the wildly asymmetrical hatred being directed at his brethren on social media. He, apparently, did not.
So my DVR started to fill up. Episodes were getting deleted before I had a chance to watch them. Hubby noticed the difference but, a little jealous of my talk-show crush, said nothing.
When Jon Stewart announced he was leaving, I felt sad, but not devastated. Stewart is leaving me? I already left him.
And then Charleston happened.
When news that a hate-filled villain with a gun terrorized and murdered nine innocent churchgoers, I along with countless others, ingested all I could handle of the horror. And then we all waited until the next day. To hear how Jon Stewart was going to handle it.
After the Towers fell, after this nation elected its first black president, after anything of consequence has happened in the last 17 years, Jon Stewart provided the quintessentially American—and inadvertently Jewish—perspective.
During that first monologue after the shooting, when he said, “Al-Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS. They’re not sh-t compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis,” he both declared something that all Americans need to hear, and he summed up every story that Sholem Aleichem ever wrote.
So, Jon, meet me at Camera 3: Baby, how can I stay mad at what you didn’t say, when I recognize so much Jewish wisdom in what you’re saying now? Stew-Beef, I want to get back together.
Just in time to say goodbye.
Mayrav Saar is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.