Friday, September 14, 2012

David Gregory's Jewish Life

David Gregory interviewed Jake Gyllenhall (who's mother is Jewish) on this morning's episode of The Today Show. During the interview, Gregory, who serves as the host of NBC's "Meet the Press", made a comment that he hadn't had that much fun since his bar mitzvah.  I had no idea that Gregory was Jewish so I did some research.

Sure enough, Gregory did have a bar mitzvah at thirteen and lives a proud Jewish life. While only Gregory's father is Jewish, he was raised in the Jewish faith and takes it seriously as an adult.

In an interview with the Washington Jewish Week, Gregory talked to Eric Fingerhut about how he discovered the importance of Judaism in his life. He talked about studying Jewish texts with Dr. Erica Brown, scholar-in-residence at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and saying the bedtime Sh'ma with his children (a son and son-daughter twins) as a way to model Judaism for them and "create a Jewish narrative in their lives that's not just obligatory."

Gregory become a well known journalist in Washington when he was assigned by NBC to the press corps covering George W. Bush when he ran for president in 2000. During the campaign, Bush threw a party for Gregory's 30th birthday on the campaign plane. President Bush nicknamed Gregory "Stretch" because of his height (6'5") and also "Dancing Man," for his dance moves.

In the Washington Jewish Week article, Gregory explained that while he was raised in a Jewish home despite his non-Jewish mother, there wasn't much emphasis on theology or spirituality. But, with the encouragement of his non-Jewish wife (Beth Wilkinson), it was "enough to carry me to a sense of identity" and give him a desire to "probe further" the question of "Why be Jewish?"

He said, "What I decided was [that] what mattered was not just a sense of actual knowledge" or attending High Holiday services, "it was to understand how to live Jewishly ... [and] find daily meaning in Judaism. So now "Shabbat has become a lot more important to me" as a way to "stop and think about what matters most to me ... what kind of father and husband I want to be. I was born into a tradition," he said. "Who am I to let it slip through my fingers?"

In a post last year on the TVNEWSER blog, Gregory said about his Passover tradition, “I prepare a big seder where we do the costumes and a script and basically tell the story of the Exodus."

Perhaps as a way to share their common Jewish heritage, at the end of the Today Show interview Gyllenhaal let Gregory know that he was "shvitzing."