The year is 5780. The month: Tishrei. No, this isn’t science fiction. It’s a new year on the calendar of the Jewish people, celebrated by a culture of millions throughout the world with a history spanning thousands of years. This month, Jews of every nation celebrate Rosh Hashanah, their new year’s day; Yom Kippur, their day of atonement; Sukkot, their holiday of thanksgiving; and Simchat Torah, their festival upon completion of an annual cycle of scripture. Jewish history and comic book history have gone hand-in-hand since the very beginnings of the medium. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: so many of the titans who made comics what they are today trace their roots back to American Jewry.
It’s appropriate, then, that so many of DC’s icons can claim Jewish heritage themselves. Here’s a list of 20 Jewish Super Heroes- enough for two minyanim, even- to help you ring in the new lunar year. G’mar v’chatima tovah!
Atom Smasher (Al Rothstein)
Recommended Reading: JSA
The godson of the original non-powered Atom, Al Pratt, Albert Rothstein had the power to increase his size and strength to enormous proportions. As a member of the JSA, he became a close friend and confidante to Black Adam as they struggled together under the yoke of moral absolutism.
Ragman (Rory Regan)
Recommended Reading: Ragman (2017)
Rory Regan didn’t just inherit the family ragshop from his father: he also inherited the suit of souls, a tattered cloak dating back to the days of Abraham worn by those chosen to punish the wicked and protect the innocent. A champion of the downtrodden, Ragman often protects Gothamites from dangers that even Batman overlooks — and also battles the supernatural alongside Shadowpact.
Doctor Fate (Eric Strauss)
Recommended Reading: Doctor Fate (1988)
It was once said that the Helmet of Fate was meant to be shared by two hosts. After the passing of Kent Nelson, Nabu the Wise chose Eric Strauss and his stepmother Linda to be the next bearers of the helm. Eric is killed by Desaad on an early mission to Apokolips, and his relationship with Linda only gets more complicated from there. Mother complexes may be fairly common for us Jews, but they take it to a new level. Well, at least he’s a Doctor now.
Firestorm (Martin Stein)
Recommended Reading: The Fury of Firestorm (1982)
The elder half of Firestorm, Professor Martin Stein’s Judaism wasn’t explicitly addressed until his appearances on TV’s ‘The Flash’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ — though his Jewish heritage has since made the leap to comics. As the mental segment of the Firestorm Matrix, Professor Stein advises student Ronnie Raymond on how to use his remarkable powers to their greatest ability. After all, Judaism has always been about passing down oral tradition.
Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel)
Recommended Reading: Harley Quinn (2016)
Although often garnished with a particularly violent streak, Harley Quinn has a very particulah sensa yuma that harkens back to the Jewish Catskill comedians of yore. Though her family background is left up to speculation for her first appearances in ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ later appearances in the comics make it clear that Harley comes from a mixed religious household, with a Jewish mother and a Christian father. Harley’s relationship with her mother currently plays a central role in the ongoing ‘Harley Quinn’ comics by DC Daily’s own Sam Humphries.
Colossal Boy (Gim Allon)
Recommended Reading: Legionnaires (1993)
Surviving generation after generation of religious persecution, the Jewish tribe has proven one of the most resilient people in human history. It’s no surprise, then, to see that we’re still present and accounted for a thousand years in the future. Colossal Boy, Gim Allon, is one of the few Earthborn members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, with the metahuman power to grow to extraordinary sizes. (A distant descendant of Al Rothstein, maybe?) In the Post-Zero Hour era, Colossal Boy even went by the codename “Leviathan,” after the great beast from the Old Testament.
Seraph (Chaim Lavon)
Recommended Reading: DC Comics Presents #46
As Seraph, Israeli school teacher Chaim Lavon represented his nation in the Global Guardians, an international team of Super Heroes. Armed with the strength of Samson, the ring of Solomon, the staff of Moses, and the mantle of Elijah, Seraph used the artifacts of the Old Testament to fight for justice for his people and the world. Long after the Global Guardians disbanded, Seraph remained one of the most active members of the team in his part of the world.
Recommended Reading: Suicide Squad (1987)
Named for a group of mythical beasts in The Zohar, an ancient Kabbalistic text, Hayoth was originally the Israeli government’s answer to Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad. Led by the amiable Colonel HaCohen, the four active members of Hayoth included the light manipulating Ramban (named for a classical Talmudic scholar), the artificial intelligence Dybbuk (named for a body-possessing demon in Jewish folklore), the super strong Golem (named for and resembling the Golem of Prague in Judaic lore), and Judith, an Israeli ninja who wielded the Sword of Zion and threw Star of David-shaped shuriken. Together, they protected Israel from the rise of the international terrorist group Kobra — and today, as revealed in ‘Doomsday Clock,’ are led by former Global Guardians member Seraph.
Sy-Borg (Sy Borgman)
Recommended Reading: Harley Quinn (2013)
Long ago, in an age of spycraft gone by, Sylvester Borgman was one of the top secret agents for the US government in the Cold War. When a mission to Russia went wrong, Borgman was patched up with the latest cybernetic technology known to man, as a sort of Vic Stone 0.5. Now half man, half machine, Sy Borgman continued to fight for the American way as… Sy-Borg. Today, though, Sy lives in a retirement community in Brooklyn, his human parts not quite able to keep up with his cybernetics. Fortunately, he has the best caretaker a retired super spy can ask for: one Harley Quinn. Sy-Borg will make his on-screen debut in just a few short weeks, for Harley Quinn’s animated series right here on DC Universe.
Alice Cohen & The Monolith
Recommended Reading: Power Girl (2009)
Judaism has long been a culture of birthright, with the duties and vows of one generation passing on to the next. So too was it with Alice Cohen, who inherited the power to command The Monolith — a latter-day golem charged with the protection of a small Jewish community. When the world came under fire from the Secret Society of Super-Villains during ‘Infinite Crisis,’ Alice put aside her own issues and stepped up to defend her people. Alice and The Monolith played a key role in the Battle for Blüdhaven, and went on to appear as supporting characters in Amanda Conner’s ‘Power Girl’ run.
Dust Devil (Moshe Levy)
Recommended Reading: Invasion!
When the Dominators invaded Earth to trigger the dormant genes embedded in the planet’s metahuman population, one of the first to survive the experiments and receive powers was young Moshe Levy: an Israeli child who found he could manipulate the wind and create tornadoes. As Dust Devil, Moshe escaped from imprisonment with the five other survivors- including the Justice League of America’s own Snapper Carr- and helped Earth’s heroes defeat the Dominators from within their own invasion fleet. Moshe and the other metahumans went on to form “The Blasters,” a super-team which remained in operation for exactly one issue and then never again.
Solomon the Wise
Recommended Reading: The Power of Shazam!
Solomon, son of David, was the third king of Judea, from 971 to 930 BCE. By the Bible’s accounting, Solomon was granted ultimate wisdom by God Himself, oversaw a prosperous golden age for the Jewish people, constructed their holiest temple, and bound the king of all demons to his service. But Solomon plays a significant role in the DC Universe as well, acting as one of the six patrons of Shazam! As Captain Marvel, Billy Batson gains access to the wisdom of Solomon himself, often providing the young hero with the wits to outfox even his wiliest foes.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Recommended Reading: Darkseid War
Hal Jordan has a long history of issues with his father, a test pilot who died on a risky flight aboard an experimental jet plane. But until 2015, we didn’t know too much about his mother. That changes in Tom King and Doc Shaner’s ‘Justice League: Darkseid War — Green Lantern,’ where we learn that not only was Hal’s mother Jewish, but that Hal was raised practicing some level of Judaism himself. This surprisingly heartfelt issue uses Hal’s revealed history with religion as a springboard to what it means to be surrounded by gods in the emergent Darkseid War, and even achieve apotheosis himself… themes which would continue later into King’s work on ‘Mister Miracle.’
Recommended Reading: DC Comics: Bombshells
Zatanna’s ethnicity isn’t explored too deeply in the main line of comics, but Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage’s ‘DC Comics: Bombshells’ establishes Zatanna as half Jewish, half Romani — a prime target for the ethnic cleansing practices of the Third Reich, which cast an ever present shadow over the wartime backdrop of Bombshells. Defiantly, Zatanna remains one of the most visible heroines of her age in a time and place where those around her would rather see her hidden away, fighting for the future of her people and all those who an oppressive majority would will out of existence. For the Jewish people, our continued survival against all odds may be the greatest magic trick of all.
Batwoman (Kate Kane)
Recommended Reading: Batwoman: Elegy
Now the star of her own TV series, Batwoman may be the most openly visible Jewish hero in DC’s stable today. Batwoman’s Judaism is essential to her identity, but as a survivor of tragedy, an openly gay woman, a former military cadet, and a disciplined vigilante, it’s far from her only facet. Though her complicated path through life has taken her all over the world and all across the moral spectrum, Kate still celebrates Jewish holidays with her father, Jacob Kane. Which brings us to what may be the final guest at our Yom Kippur service...
Batman…? (Bruce Wayne)
Recommended Reading: The Batman Chronicles #11
That’s right, we’re talking about the Dark Knight himself. The World’s Greatest Detective is also the World’s Greatest Jew.
Consider the facts:
As we noted above, Kate Kane’s father, Jacob Kane, is a practicing Jew. Jacob Kane’s sister was Martha Kane… who married Thomas Wayne, and became Martha Wayne. Unless Jacob Kane became Jewish through conversion, it would stand to reason that Martha Wayne was Jewish as well - at least by birth. This would make Bruce Wayne culturally Jewish, from his mother’s side. According to the vast majority of opinions in Judaic scripture, one is considered Jewish if they were born of a Jewish mother. This would mean that Batman himself has Jewish matrilineal heritage, and is therefore Jewish himself. (Even if Martha is sometimes depicted at a burial site with Christian imagery on her headstone, this wouldn’t change the notion that she was born Jewish. Unlike most faiths, Judaism is considered a culture as well as a religion.)
Is Batman Jewish? The evidence seems to indicate such. And regardless of Martha’s heritage, he was still created by two Jewish boys in the 1930s. As was Superman, for that matter. After all, “Kal-El” is Hebrew for “Voice of God” — so he’s invited to services too. While we’re at it, didn’t Barry Allen say he was Jewish in the ‘Justice League’ movie? It’s starting to look like half the Justice League might be Jewish! We suppose that explains why you can always find a nice bagel and lox spread in the Hall of Justice cafeteria.