A few weeks ago, Mad Men added its first Jewish regular character, Michael Ginsburg, played by Ben Feldman. Ginsburg is joining Peggy as a member of the creative team, and we’re slowly learning about his backstory. This week, he told Peggy that he had been born in a concentration camp to a woman who eventually died, and that he was raised in a Swedish orphanage until adopted by his father. But Ginsburg turns out not to be the only Jew on the show – last night’s episode featured two more characters, both of whom we’ve already met.
– Peggy’s boyfriend Abe, who works at the Village Voice, told her that he would say “a bracha” (blessing) over her candy. While the line was a throwaway, it gave some more shading to their relationship and to their identity as an interfaith couple (Peggy grew up Catholic). When she heard Michael’s story, she called Abe to ask if it could be true that a baby was born in a concentration camp, and he said that it was.
– Roger married a secretary named Jane Siegel a few seasons ago, but she has not been a major character. This week, Roger and Jane took LSD at Timothy Leary’s house, and Roger told Jane that when she was high she spoke German. Jane, however, said that it wasn’t German – it was Yiddish. This seems like confirmation for the fans (including me) who suspected Jane was Jewish.
It’s not clear how much Judaism is going to be a theme this season, but it’s about time we addressed the backstories of Jane and of Abe. So we can at least thank Ginsburg for that.