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Jewish Megafights We Want To See

Fantastical title fights inspired by boxing’s ‘Fight of the Century’

Jonathan Zalman
May 01, 2015
(Photo illustration: Esther Werdiger)
(Photo illustration: Esther Werdiger)

Tomorrow night, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (47-0) will face off against Manny Pacquiao (57-5-2) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, in what is being billed as the “Fight Of the Century.” On the line are three Welterweight Championship Belts. And even though both boxers are at the beginning of the end of their careers (Mayweather is 38; Pacquiao, 36), they remain two of the best in the business. This bout should be a doozy—a veritable megafight.

Which got us thinking: What megafights in the wide, wide, splendid world of Jewry would we like to see? Here’s our list:

The Championship Belt for Most Quotable Jewish Judge

Matchup: Judge Judy vs. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Winner: Ginsburg

Tale of the tape: Judge Judy comes out swinging, hurling quip after memorable quip: “Do I have stupid written across my forehead?” “You’re a hustler, madam!” “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” Despite Judge Judy’s shouting and finger-jabbing, Ginsburg appears listless in the first round, even nodding off at one point. (She’d had a glass or two of wine with Antonin Scalia before the bell.) But Judge Judy tires after going 10 minutes without a commercial break, giving Ginsburg—who has removed her robe to reveal a “Notorious RBG” T-shirt with her own face on it—the chance to offer a stirring dissent. Ginsburg wins over the refs with her pointed, if less meme-friendly, statements about women on the court and feminism. Her surprising commentary on Passover lands the knockout punch, as Officer Byrd carries Judge Judy out of the ring.

— Wayne Hoffman

The Championship Belt for Jewish Rap King of the Millennials

Matchup: Drake vs. Matisyahu

Tale of the tape: It’s the battle of the rapper who’s Jewish and the Jewish guy who raps. When the sidelocked sensation known as Matisyahu burst onto the reggae/rap/rock scene in 2004, he was something of a novelty: a yarmulke-clad Hasidic Jew who rapped, and rapped well. Since shaving his beard in 2011 and announcing he’s no longer religious, though, the modern-day Samson has struggled to find his professional footing. By that time, Canadian Jewish TV alum and emotional pincushion Aubrey “Drake” Graham was comfortably established as a talented rapper who happened to be Jewish. He drank, partied, and sang about things that would make your grandmother blush. He also recreated his bar mitzvah in a music video. And those crazy kids ate it up.

Winner: Drake

— Stephanie Butnick

The Championship Bout for Best Living Jewish Celebrity Harvey

Matchup: Harvey Weinstein vs. Harvey Fierstein

Tale of the tape: In late March, Weinstein faced accusations he groped someone he ought not to have (that is, not his wife). Then, in late April, he was robbed of Tony nominations for Finding Neverland, the first Broadway production for which he was lead creative producer. But Broadway is Fierstein’s domain. It’s the Harvey with the gravelly, brash voice who’s conquered the Great White Way (he’s got a Tony!). Where Weinstein’s bully tactics are infamous and unsavory, Fierstein’s tactics are downright haimish. Plus, he has signed on to make a live TV version of The Wiz. Ease on the down the road, my brother. And TKO.

Winner: Harvey Fierstein

— Sara Ivry

Norman Mailer vs. Gore Vidal

Title belt on the line: Oh wait we already saw that
Tale of the tape: “Why don’t you fold it five ways and put it where the moon don’t shine.”

Winner: Dick Cavett

— Matthew Fishbane

The Championship Belt for Jewish Comedy Ambassador

Matchup: Andy Samberg vs. Adam Sandler

Tale of the tape: The Wedding Singer faces off against the SNL Digital Shorts king. The comedic mind that brought us “The Hanukkah Song” is now better known for his recent string of mediocre films, the latest of which caused Native American actors to walk off the set in protest during filming last week. Samberg may make dick jokes, but for the most part, his humor manages to be smart and funny without being offensive.

Winner: Andy Samberg

— Stephanie Butnick

The Championship Bout of Jewish Roman à Clef Musical Heavyweights

Matchup: William Finn vs. Jason Robert Brown

Tale of the tape: Jason Robert Brown is sure-footed and packs a heavy punch but predictable in style, and once he falters, he becomes erratic. Singing about cheating on your wife will do you no good here. Finn, on the other hand, will lull you into a false sense of security with his humorous work, and then knock you down before you realize what’s happening. He survived a brain tumor and wrote a show about it. Heck, he took three shows to tell the story of a gay Jewish man. He’s a survivor. And he’s relentless.

Winner: William Finn

— Gabriela Geselowitz

The Championship Belt for Unlikeliest Haganah Member

Matchup: Vidal Sassoon vs. Dr. Ruth

Tale of the tape: Even though Sassoon had fine skills in fighting fascists with knives and razor blades, it’s Dr. Ruth who is not to be messed with. She’s little; she’s compact; she’s a sniper who could seduce someone with her feminine wiles–and then slit their throats.

Winner: Dr. Ruth

— Marjorie Ingall

The Championship Belt for Most Bitchin’ Feminist Jewish Supreme Court Justice

Matchup: Elena Kagan vs. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Tale of the tape: Is it a fair fight if the contestants train together, each accumulating an intimate inventory of their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses? If yes, this would be the fairest fight of all, because colleagues Ginsburg and Kagan share a personal trainer and schvitz together on the reg.

In the left corner: Kagan’s raw youth. At the age of 55, the sweet, sweet memory of convincing the rabbi of her Orthodox synagogue to allow her to read Torah at her bat mitzvah would still be fresh. But in the right corner: Ginsburg’s experience and seniority. Her feminist Jewish credentials are so tight they basically deserve their own wave—the great R.B.G. served as camp rabbi at Che-Na-Wah back in 1948. It’s a tough call, but I think Ginsburg would triumph. She “has the best jab-cross-hook-punch combination on the federal bench,” according to Kagan, many bitching pairs of gloves, and thousands of fans petitioning Ben & Jerry’s for an ice-cream flavor in her honor.

Winner: Notorious R.B.G.

— Elissa Goldstein

The Championship Belt for Best TV Portrayal of Twentysomethings in New York City

Matchup: Broad City vs. Girls

Tale of the tape: Both shows revolve around struggling twentysomethings in the Big Apple. But there are critical differences between the two (no, not the repeated allusions to va-hee-na or weed or the presence of the amazing Hannibal Buress as Lincoln.) It’s the physical comedy. Have you seen the Broad City episode that takes place at a dentist’s office where Abbi skulks on the floor, stoned out of her mind, away from a little boy who confuses her for a mother? Or the Season 1 finale wherein Abbi gets all Hulk-like to save the shellfish-afflicted Ilana? It makes me want to watch The Three Stooges, which is something I could never imagine would be true.

Winner: Broad City

— Sara Ivry

The Championship Bout of Jew-Created Superheroes

Matchup: Batman vs. Superman

Tale of the tape: While Supes (the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster) and the Caped Crusader (spawn of Bill Finger and Bob Kane) both sprang from the pens of first-generation 1930s American Jews, the former is all otherworldly bright colors and optimism, while the latter is a haunted, bitter creature of the night. So which attitude toward American acculturation should reign supreme? Through the years, comic book writers have pitted the buff duo against one another with varying outcomes, but in real life it is obvious that Superman would win. Superman would melt Batman with heat vision or drop a building on him. Done. “Faster than a speeding bullet; more powerful than a locomotive” trumps, “Oh look, that guy has a tool belt.”

Winner: Superman

— Marjorie Ingall

The Championship Belt for Most Unfortunate Elderly Jewish Male Dye-Job

Matchup: Sheldon Adelson vs. Donald Sterling

Tale of the Tape: Don’t get me wrong, they have both have magnificently absurd orange-red hues. But the thing about Adelson is that he manages to combine the color with a comb-over—and, it seems, with a kind of body wave of the few combed-over strands. It’s as if Adelson has rescued his hair only to embarrass it.

Winner: Sheldon Adelson

— Mark Oppenheimer

The Championship Belt for Best Jewish Pet

Matchup: Dogs vs. Cats

Tale of the tape: The truth about cats and dogs in ancient Judaism wasn’t all fur and games. Today, though, you can throw your Semitic pooch a bark mitzvah, or get your cat blessed by a rabbi. But no amount of Talmudic-style parsing can solve the age-old debate. Meow.

Winner: Draw

— Stephanie Butnick

Photo credits
Dog: iStockphoto
Broad City: Comedy Central
Drake credit: YouTube
Samberg: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Batman: Batman comic by Bill Finger and Bob Kane

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.