Friday, March 25, 2011

The Daily Show Pokes Fun at Eruv Battle in Westhampton Beach

The controversy surrounding a Long Island community's attempt to construct an eruv and opposition from some local residents reached a boiling point of sorts this week when it became the subject of a report on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart's popular news program that's laced with heavy doses of parody and satire.

Erica Jackson summed up the spoof and the underlying controversy in a local Westhampton Beach newspaper:
The bit, called The Thin Jew Line, airs as a “news” report by “correspondent” Wyatt Cenac.  The satirist interviews Jeff Weisenfeld, member of the Hampton Orthodox Synagogue; Charles Gottesman, member of the Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv; and residents at the Beach Bakery in Westhampton Beach.

The five-minute spoof already has people in Westhampton Beach talking.
Westhampton Beach Mayor Conrad Teller, who said he heard about the show on the On The Beach Blog, said he couldn’t say much since the issue is in the courts. However, he did say, “It’s a comedy show that poked fun at a very serious issue.  We consider this a very serious issue.”
Hank Sheinkoph, who represents the East End Eruv Association, called the Daily Show’s bit, “a wonderful thing.”

“It makes the opposition look ridiculous and they are ridiculous,” said Sheinkoph.  “John Stewart knows what the elected officials have not yet figured out  — and maybe after they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the lawsuit, the taxpayers will understand too.”

Arnold Sheiffer, who heads up the Jewish People Opposed to the Eruv, said he was approached by the Daily Show to appear but he refused.  He says the spoof "missed the point of the situation entirely."

He said, "There is nothing funny about this.  The vast majority of Jewish people oppose the eruv becuase it does not keep with the basic tenants of the Jewish tradition of honoring customs and tradition in the area of which you live."
Sheiffer also said that the show did not point out that "the eruv benefits very few and extends to their economic benefit."
Sheiffer said he was further disappointed to see that the show made a "mockery" of Gottesman.
"It's a shame. He is a very nice person and a credit to the community," he said.
Elise Richman, a Westhampton Beach Main Street Business owner, said she found the parody amusing, but even more so, she said it says something about the opposition to the eruv proposal: “It’s obvious from this video that it’s more than the eruv that they want to keep out of Westhampton Beach. I say put it up and save everyone a lot money fighting a losing battle.”
Here's the report as it appeared on Wednesday's edition of The Daily Show. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Comedy is a good way to get people talking about a serious issues. Good stuff.