Jews in the News: Sarah Sherman, Asher Grodman and Ethan Katz

New Jewish “SNL” Cast Member; "Jewish" Ghost; Playoff Hebrews

Three new “SNL” cast members were announced a couple of days before the season premiere on Oct. 2.  One of three, SARAH SHERMAN, made my job easier by making many Jewish references in a 2019 interview with “Vice Magazine”.

Sherman, who is about 27, grew-up on Long Island. She graduated from Northwestern Univ. in Chicago in 2015. Shortly thereafter, she co-founded a Chicago-based ensemble company called Helltrap Nightmare. The company, made-up of “edgy weirdo” comics, put on monthly shows that Sherman hosted. She was voted Chicago’s best comic (2016) in a “big-time” reader poll.

Sherman’s high school nickname was “Squirm” because, she said, she was really skinny and gross and squirmy.  She embraced the nickname and Sarah Squirm was Sherman’s Helltrap Nightmare stage name. She told Helltrap audiences to “embrace their inner squirm”.

The “Vice” magazine journalist who interviewed Sherman began his piece by noting: “Helltrap Nightmare is billed as an ensemble. But it really is the Sarah Squirm Show.”

Somehow the interview landed on the topic of Jewish vs. Catholic guilt. Here is most of what Sherman said: “I wasn’t raised to be told I was bad, or that there were sins inside me I needed to exorcise. I think Jews post-Holocaust are raised like, ‘We are the chosen people.' I’ve always been taught that I’m gifted and a genius…Jewish guilt is more like my dad…He’s always calling me up on a High Holiday: 'Did you go to shul?” I’m like, 'No.' and he always says, 'Just remember, 6 million in the oven, that’s all I’m gonna say.' That’s Jewish guilt.”

“Ghosts” is a CBS comedy series that premieres on Oct. 7 (9PM). The premise is that Alison and Mike, a nice young married couple, inherit a huge country estate and decide to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. The estate house is inhabited by a close-knit group of “souls” who once lived in the house. One ghost lived in the 1700s, while some others died recently. Alison is a descendant of one of the ghosts and she is the first living person to be able to see and talk to the ghosts. ASHER GRODMAN, 34, plays Trevor, one of the ghosts. This is the first big TV role for this very handsome fellow. His father is a prominent New Jersey physician.

The major league baseball playoffs began on October 5. As I write this, all but one division title has been clinched. The division winners include Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco, and the Chicago White Sox.  I mention these teams because they all have an on-field Jewish connection.

Houston’s star third baseman is ALEX BREGMAN, 27. He missed about half the games this season with a muscle injury but returned to the line-up in September and has been hitting pretty well. Like Bregman, Atlanta starting pitcher MAX FRIED, 27, has had an up-and-down season. He was rocked in early appearances, but turned things around in the second half. He is now 13-7, with a low ERA.

San Francisco, not seen as a contender last March, is now viewed by many as the best team in baseball.  Virtually everyone gives great credit to GABE KAPLER, 46, a former major leaguer who took over as the Giants’ manager last year. His training regimen and smart “platooning” helped dramatically raise the Giants’ hitting stats.

I became aware of White Sox pitching Coach ETHAN KATZ, 37, when he walked to the mound a few times during the epic “Field of Dreams” game the Sox played against the Yankees, last July, in Iowa. I looked Katz up and, yes, he’s Jewish.

A Los Angeles native, Katz pitched several years in the minors before beginning his coaching career. His first coaching job (2009) was at Harvard-Westlake High School, a very good L.A. private school. He stayed in that job for 4 years and then joined the Angels organization. While at Harvard-Westlake he coached Max Fried and Fried’s teammate, Lucas Giolito, 27. 

Giolito is now a star White Sox pitcher and, after the 2020 season, Giolito recommended Katz for the (Sox) head pitching coach position. That’s how Katz, the Giants’ assistant pitching coach last year, got the top Sox spot—his first head pitching coach job.

It’s a nice story---you teach and you mentor young people, and sometimes you reap unexpected benefits for being a “mensch”.


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