One of my jobs in the opinionator office is to post editorial cartoons online (click here for the site). I post pretty much any color cartoon that comes in unless I think it’s too regional for local viewers to understand or, occasionally, because it’s offensive. Generally I give them the benefit of the doubt and post them, figuring online viewers see a lot of borderline material.
Today this one by Robert Arial came in; it’s a tribute to former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who died Friday. It’s the editorial cartoonist cliché of the deceased person at heaven’s pearly gates, with Koch speaking his famous “How’m I doin’?” line.
We talked among ourselves here whether to post it, wondering whether some Jewish readers might find it offensive. Koch, a devout Jew, is wearing a halo – which we thought was a Christian thing. But a quick online search turned up a Q&A with a rabbi who says that the halo does indeed appear in Judaism. But we wondered if Jews would be bothered by the pearly gates, which in the cartoon genre are usually manned by St. Peter. This one doesn’t show any welcoming committee for Koch, but it still seemed like it portrays a Christian view of the afterlife.
Checking with the Judaism 101 website, I found this:
Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion. It is possible for an Orthodox Jew to believe that the souls of the righteous dead go to a place similar to the Christian heaven, or that they are reincarnated through many lifetimes, or that they simply wait until the coming of the messiah, when they will be resurrected.
We decided to go ahead and post the cartoon on the theory that even if it doesn’t exactly fit into some Jews’ beliefs, they would probably excuse it as being a good-natured tribute to Koch.
Do any of our Jewish readers have a thought on this?