Sarah Silverman's Rabbi Sister: Filthy Sarah's Like the Biblical Prophets, Only More Effective

Sarah Silverman's website is promoting an interview Sarah and her sister the rabbi, Susan Silverman, gave to CNN contributor (and former Bush staffer) Margaret Hoover at The Daily Beast's Women of the World summit after they spoke on April 4.

Hoover encouraged Rabbi Susan to explain again how Sarah Silverman preaches and is "in the line of the biblical prophets...but they were also less effective." (Video below)

MARGARET HOOVER: You both preach. And you have a great line about your sister’s preaching. Um, that people actually listen to her, unlike the prophets.

RABBI SUSAN SILVERMAN: I really feel like she’s in the line of the biblical prophets. I mean, they didn’t drop F-bombs quite as much, but they were also less effective. And people have said to me, like ‘How do you feel, you’re a rabbi, how do you feel that your sister is, like, you know, what, obscene or crass in her language.’ [To Sarah] I’m not saying you are, (she is). I would much rather see someone speak of truly holy things in crass language than speak of, then put, like, oppression wrapped in the language of, of holiness.

HOOVER: Yeah, yeah.  It’s authentic.


This merely repeated a shtick from the Daily Beast article previewing their joint appearance, by Kevin Fallon:

“I suppose it’s because our lives seem at the surface to be so polar opposite,” Sarah says. “But the truth is we both kinda … preach; and we both take in our surroundings and try to mirror it.”

Speaking over Skype from her home in Israel—where she, her husband, and her five kids have lived since 2006—Susan agrees. At least about the preaching bit. “I was just saying to a friend, it’s sort of like a Kardashian phenomenon,” she says. “Like I’m not exactly sure what all the attention’s about, but I feel like since I’m getting it, I should use it for good....”

“I really think of her as carrying on the prophetic tradition, of just pouring out truth and justice,” Susan says about her sister. “And she does it in a way that people want to hear.” Then, with a hearty laugh: “No one wanted to listen to the prophets.”

Fallon also reported “Rabbi Susan says things like “fuck.” Maybe it’s not that hard believing she and Sarah would be sisters, after all.” Her mentor is apparently radical historian Howard Zinn. The sisters allegedly carry a "shared spirit of mischievous do-goodery—preaching without fear of four-letter words and a little controversy—comes from an upbringing that encouraged speaking one’s mind, making people laugh, and the necessity to use both as tools for enacting change."

Their parents, “no surprise, were about as outspoken as their daughters have grown up to become.”

“Our mom is a big brain—very passionate and opinionated,” says Sarah. “She always had buttons on her purse and her overalls (yes, overalls) that said stuff like ‘question authority’ and how the military should have a bake sale and schools should be funded, ‘We have met the enemy and they are US'—you know, that stuff.  And our Dad is also outspoken, very liberal, very funny.  He calls himself a reverse snob. He’ll heckle people: 'Nice Rolex. That could probably feed a whole town in India—but good for you. I love my Timex—it was $35 and it can go underwater!'”

Sarah told Hoover their mom wore the classic pin saying "Thing Globally, Act Locally." Apparently, Sarah Silverman has always been ready to mix sweetness and filth to get laughs:

“One day my grandma walked in and Sarah was coloring, maybe she was 3 or 4,” Susan remembers. “And my grandma said, ‘Sarah, I made some brownies for you.’ And Sarah, not even looking up, said, ‘Shove them up your ass, Nana.’ She did it to be funny. She didn’t know what she was saying, really. She just knew that it was crude and her adorableness saying it was going to be funny.”

PS: Sarah Silverman is Orbit Gum's idea of a "Brushed Clean" spokeswoman? Apparently the slogan isn't "Shove that minty fresh gum up your (ahem), Nana."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis