David Kilimnick, The Honest Rabbi, Off the Wall Comedy Theater, Jerusalem

He even shows respect for antisemites, as in “they do so much of a better job of getting Jews to move to Israel than the Jewish Agency.”

July 1, 2019 21:45
2 minute read.
David Kilimnick

Comedian David Kilimnick 370. (photo credit: Dana Dekel)

Getting comedy right is like magic. There is nothing else like it in the entertainment industry. I have been following David Kilimnick’s comedy for years and enjoyed his musings on Israeli life in his long-running Aliyah Monologues, which made him a local celebrity in Anglo-Israel circles. Even so, I was apprehensive that he might not get it right in his new show, The Honest Rabbi.

I didn’t need to be.

Performing at the Off the Wall Comedy Theater, the venue he established years ago, Kilimnick attacked the crowd like an inspired preacher. Convinced he is making the world a better place, he doesn’t just want to make you laugh.

A soulful dialogue about his love of religion and Israel and his desire that we improve ourselves is the glue of his new show. He used the common Jewish experience of prayer and synagogue to make his points, including a soliloquy about how Jews have to stop stealing his coat from the shul coatroom just because it also has lapels.

He let all know how important it is for clergy to be honest. “I would like to go to one funeral where a rabbi is honest. Just one time, to hear, ‘We all hated him.’” And synagogue liturgy and off-tune singing became a target when he exclaimed, “If you are singing a different song, you can’t call it harmony!”

He even shows respect for antisemites, as in “they do so much of a better job of getting Jews to move to Israel than the Jewish Agency.”

Despite such barbs, Kilimnick’s vulnerability is what ultimately allowed the crowd to bring him in. Once he was embraced, the belly laughs started. “Those laughs are the deeper connection. The soulful religious laughs,” he told me after the show. “Vulnerability opens the door to your soul and makes you lovable. People are only willing to laugh once they love you.”

His lovable character shined when he recounted his childhood to his pupils: “Kosher means that you can’t have milk and meat together or friends.” The audience roared with laughter, and Kilimnick took it deeper, ending with his signature bit about Jews wearing a baseball cap to hide their Judaism. He then said that it doesn’t work, as his father is “walking around with a beard, a baseball hat and a suit.”

Honest and true, Kilimnick provides a link to the religiously curious who love the miracle of funny.

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