Saturday, February 20, 2021

55 years ago: A bar mitzvah on The Dick Van Dyke Show

This episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show aired on March 2, 1966. It is one of the few times that Judaism figured as a major plot point in a sitcom in those days. 

I do wonder if the writers used the kosher joke on the same episode as Buddy eating swiss cheese and turkey on purpose....

According to IMDB:

There are differing stories about the origin of this episode. Morey Amsterdam recalled that producer Carl Reiner and some of the show's writers, all of whom were Jewish, were swapping bar mitzvah stories one day when Reiner asked Amsterdam about his experience. Amsterdam responded that he had never had a bar mitzvah because his family had been too poor, adding, "In those days my folks couldn't afford to be Jewish." Amsterdam said that this exchange prompted Reiner to commission the episode. Art Baer, who co-wrote the episode recalled it differently, claiming that he, too, had never had a bar mitzvah as a child, but that his mother had asked him to go through the rite at age 40. Baer mentioned this to Reiner at a story conference, who thought it would be a good plot line for Buddy Sorrell, and he and Baer then worked out the story.
In the episode, Buddy's Hebrew name is revealed to be Moshe Zelig. My guess is that was Morey Amsterdam's real Hebrew name.