Krusty the Clown, 'yeshiva bucher'

By Angela Garber and Leonard Fein

© New Jersey Jewish News, Mar 15 2001, p31

It was not until the third season of The Simpsons that the truth came out about Krusty the Clown. In the episode titled "Like Father Like Clown" (original air date, Oct. 24, 1991), Krusty, as a dinner guest at the Simpson home, is asked to say grace. He demurs, is finally persuaded... and out comes a flawless Hamotzi.

The clown then breaks down in tears. It seems his real name is Herschel Krustofski, and his father, an Orthodox rabbi (voiced by Jackie Mason), disowned him when he insisted on becoming a clown. And Krusty misses his father.

Bart and Lisa take it upon themselves to reunite father and son. After several failed attempts, they consult the Talmud - as well as The Big Book of Chosen People, Views on Jews and Jewishness Revisted - and try and persuade Rabbi Krustofski to forgive his son. He will not be swayed, until Bart offers a quotation focusing on the theme of family in Jewish history. The rabbi is impressed and wonders about the source: Is it the Shulhan Aruch? Maimonides? the Dead Sea Scrolls? Bart tells him: The source is Sammy Davis Jr. - and the rabbi is won over.

For Simpsons fans, this episode addressed irregularities in Krusty's character. Viewers had learned that Krusty is illiterate (as demonstrated in previous episodes by his inability to read fan letters, holding them upside down, for example); and yet, he has been seen jotting down notes. In a flashback, Rabbi Krustofski brags that his son was first in his class at yeshiva, and presumably Krusty read from the Torah when he became bar mitzva. Fans speculate: Could it be that Krusty can indeed read and write... but in Hebrew only?

Transcribed by Bruce Gomes

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Last updated on March 31, 2001 by Jouni Paakkinen (