"As his star has risen, Stewart, born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, has also become an ambassador of Jewishness. Dispensing Jewish humor like a tic, Stewartís impish grin, self-deprecating punch lines and jokey cultural references are a staple of the show. He has referred to himself as 'Jewey Von Jewstein' and cracked wise on Jewish noses, circumcision, anti-Semites, Jews who play baseball (a short list), Israel as 'Heebie Land' and his grandma at Passover. When it comes to Jewish and Israeli politics, he stomps where WASPier comedians fear to tread. But although he regularly brings up the fact that he is Jewish, he rarely speaks earnestly about his Jewish upbringing or what being Jewish means to him."
And one more, with a quotation from Rabbi Moshe Waldoks of Temple Beth Zion in Brookline:
"Itís impossible to watch The Daily Show without quickly divining that Stewart is Jewish. 'Stewart brings a sharpness of wit and a clear desire to never let the audience forget who he is by bringing his Jewishness up again and again,' observes Moshe Waldoks, a rabbi in Brookline, Massachusetts, and co-editor of The Big Book of Jewish Humor. His cultural Jewishness, that is; Stewart regularly hosts The Daily Show on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. (A New York Mets fan, Stewart did name one of his pit bulls Shamsky, after Art Shamsky, a Mets player who declined to play on Yom Kippur.) Well-versed in Jewish affairs, he is the first to admit that his knowledge of the religion doesnít run deep. 'Iím not a religious scholar,' Stewart conceded to viewers in 2001. 'Letís face facts: Very few people would confuse me with Maimonides.' He gently pokes fun at his own lack of observance. 'I fasted today, not out of any religious duty but because I donít want to let a day go by where I canít feel worse about myself. So Happy Yom Kippur to you!' Stewart wished his audience in 2003."
(Photo, by Josh Reynolds for the Globe, shows Jon Stewart at Northeastern University in October.)