Oprah Winfrey – “There’s more Chassidic Jew in me than I Knew”

February 16, 2012 by Henry Benjamin
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Rabbi Motti Seligson who attained his smicha at Sydney’s Yeshiva Rabbinical College and worked for two years at Bondi’s Central Synagogue has interviewed Oprah Winfrey. Watch the video…

Rabbi Motti Seligson interviews Oprah Winfrey pic: chabad.org

Winfrey is now an independent producer with her own network and is making a program on the life of Chassidim. Before being interviewed, she visited the Ginsburg family in Broooklyn and the impact of meeting them and learning about their lives is a focal point of her interview with Rabbi Seligson.

She told him that she had formally found Chassidim “formidable” and had never until that day spoken with any of them. She discovered that “we are are all more alike than we are different”.

What impressed her most was the warmth and sense of family values saying that she shared with them the principle of using life “for something purposeful”. Oprah Winfrey was surprised to learn that women were not in the basement of Chassidic life but were in fact “its foundation”. She said: “I felt a closer connection to my own heritage and traditions – I didn’t realise Judaism was so family oriented.”

She asked the Ginsburg children about Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Beyonce and J-Z. None of them knew what she was talking about. “This knocked me out” she said. “They are focused on what matters to them”. She told Rabbi Seligson that the average US child spends more than seven hours a day playing electronic games, texting and watching TV.

Winfrey said she had learned that Chassidim seek to find their own potential. “I live to serve that cause”, she told the rabbi.

Regretting that that their was no Shabbat in her life she voiced her wish that perhaps that at least once a week an entire family could have a meal together. The interview ended with Oprah Winfrey declaring: “There’s more Chassidic Jew in me than I knew”.

Rabbi Motti Seligson spent two years in Sydney where he attained Smichah at Bondi’s Yeshiva Rabbinical College. Rabbi Eli Feldman told J-Wire: “Seven years studying is a long time and many rabbinical students emulate the secular pattern of spending part of their courses in a different country.

At Bondi’s Central Synagogue, Rabbi Selugson worked as a youth leader with Studio Central, taught Torah classed and used his creative skills to produce the promotional material for the Shul.

He told J-Wire: “Oprah spent the morning in Brooklyn with the Ginsburg family and visited Crown Heightsd before being taken on a tour of a Mikvah in Brooklyn Heights. She also met with a black Chassidic family. Whe was very respectful, very gracious and very warm.”

The iconic TV star had decided that in order to produce a program about the Chabad-Lubavitch movement sjhe would learn about their lives and values for herself rather than following the stereotyping. Rabbi Seligson said she had been “pleasantly surprised”.

Rabbi Motti Seligson does not carry out many high-profile interviews in his position as spokesmana for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He put getting Oprah Winfrey involved down to “good old-fashioned chutzpah”.

He added: “She left us feeling very inspired. It seems the lives of the Chassidim have inspired the inpsiring.”

Oprah Winfrey’s personal network visits communities at work and in their homes. The program on Chassidim aired in the U.S. this week.




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2 Responses to “Oprah Winfrey – “There’s more Chassidic Jew in me than I Knew””
  1. Ellen says:

    This doesn’t make up for the damage her repulsive ‘blood libel’ show has done all these years. I don’t believe her. She’s a fake.

  2. Lynne Newington says:

    Isn’t it wonderful, at sometime in their lives, those with Jewish roots seek them out.
    Even those who aren’t, only to seek ligitimacy.
    Were there any bishops in the Jewish tradition, I can’t recall any, not that I’m familiar with the Torah.
    As far as we’re concerned with connection to Rome, the wearing of the meter by our bishops had no religious significance other than a 12th century land owner and priest’s, in turn for the power to say mass, is serf property of the church.
    Interesting piece of history, thanks to Abott Marmion OSB. with more that I won’t bore anyone with.

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