EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 2, 2013

Author to speak on Jewish origins of Superman

By Yadira Betances
ybetances@eagletribune.com

---- — HAVERHILL — Growing up, Larry Tye sat in awe watching George Reeves on TV as Superman fly through the air, helping those in need and beating up bullies.

Tye’s fascination grew stronger after writing “The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and the Birth of Public Relations,” one of the first and most successful public relations specialists. Tye’s book, ”Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero” was published last June by Random House. One interesting fact Tye found during his research for the book was that Superman is Jewish.

Tye will speak on, “Superman: Who Knew He Was Jewish” tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St.

Tye, 57, a Haverhill native, said Superman is Jewish not just because the super hero was created by Jerry Seigel, the son of Jewish immigrants and budding artist Joe Shuster.

Superman’s home planet, Krypton was going to be destroyed, so his parents brought him to Earth to save him leaving him with a couple in Kansas.

“If that’s not the story of Moses, then I don’t know what is,” he said. Another indication that he is Jewish comes from his given name Kel-Al which in Hebrew translates to “Vessel of God.”

“I don’t think it was accidental that he was named Vessel of God.” He changed it to Superman, which Tye said any name ending in “Man” is Jewish.

During his research Tye discovered that Seigel said he wrote about what he knew and many of his experiences growing up can be found on the pages of the comics. Siegel’s father was a tailor who was held up at his store. In the first issue of Superman, the hero rescues a middle age man after being held up by a robber.

Seigel was short, fat and wore thick glasses and was often bullied because of his name and appearance.

”He was telling his own story through Superman,” Tye said. “He saw himself as Clark Kent, if only the other kids or the girls would see his true self.”

Tye admits he wished he had some of Superman’s powers including flying and the ability to read an entire library of books in a flash.

“People only saw his strength, but there was another positive message, he was really smart,” Tye said.

Tye said Superman has remained popular because his persona has evolved with each era.

He said in the 1930s, Superman was a crime fighter, in the 1940s, he protected the home front by deliberately failed his eye exam so he would not fight in World War II.

“If he had gone to war, people would have asked, ‘Why didn’t we win? It was also a tool to help Americans buy war bonds.” On one of the radio shows, Superman speaks about the Klu Klax Klan.

”He is consistent; about righteousness and about right and wrong and basically, that’s all we want in a hero,” Tye said.

Tye, a former newspaper reporter, said he wrote the book to delve into the history of the longest living hero and why Americans like the heroes they do.

Tye did research for two years for the book, including interviewing 200 people; reading everything he could find on Seigel, even his private diaries as well as books on Greek mythology and American history of the time. He also watched all 104 episodes of the television shows, numerous movies and listened to radio broadcasts.

“If you call work reading comics, it’s been incredibly fun,” Tye said.

Tye was born in Haverhill and graduated from Brown University.

After college, Tye worked with an environmental group called the Union of Concerned Scientists. He also worked for former Gov. Michael Dukakis representing the state in Washington, D.C. on issues ranging from energy and environmental to consumer affairs.

He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1993-94.

Tye thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but decided to take a year off to work in Washington before attending law school. Several years later, he got the travel bug and wanted to see more of America. He saw journalism as a way to do it.

He worked at the Boston Globe for 15 years and previously at The Anniston Star in Alabama and The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

Tye is currently working on a seventh book, a biography of Sen. Robert Kennedy, which he hopes to finish in a year. He also runs a Boston-based fellowship program for medical journalists.

His book, “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend,” about the Negro League pitcher, was on the New York Times bestseller list, was named a TimesNotable Book, and won the Casey Award and the Seymour Medal — as best baseball book of 2009.

“I love using one person’s life as a lens into bigger issues. Satchel Paige, for instance, let me look at the history of Jim Crow in America. Eddie Bernays offered a mirror into our age of spin and Superman let me see why America embraces the heroes we do,” Tye said.

Monks to present Tibetan mystical arts

NORTH ANDOVER — The Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery present The Mystical Arts of Tibet, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College.

The company will present one performance of sacred music and sacred dance for world healing. The monks will be robed in magnificent costumes and play traditional Tibetan instruments. In addition, the Loseling monks will create a traditional sand mandala in the Sakowich Student Center beginning Feb. 5.

Church listings

Congregation Beth Israel, 501 S. Main St., Andover: Fifth and sixth graders lead Torah services Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.

Corpus Christ at Holy Rosary, 35 Essex St., Lawrence: The parish hosts “Why Catholic?” — a program focusing on the first of two parts of the Creed, Feb. 4 and every Monday at 1 p.m. and Feb. 5 and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Workbooks cost $14.

Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: Pastor Marsha Heydenreich leads a Bible study group on “The Old Testament in Matthew,” Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 am, beginning Feb. 13. For more information or to sign up, visit www.faith-andover.org, contact marsha@faith-andover.org or call (978) 475-4059.

Free Christian, 31 Elm St., Andover: Alpha Course starts Tuesday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and continues every Tuesday until April 9.

Little Sisters of St. Francis, 8 Barnard Way, Danville: The sisters hold days of prayer for women March 23, April 13, Sept. 28 and Nov. 26; for men on May 18 and Oct. 19 and for married couples on Aug. 24 all from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call 603-382-7490 or send an email to littlewaystac@yahoo.com.

Mary Queen of Peace of Sts. Joseph and Mary parish, 200 Lawrence St., Salem: Children serve as greeters, ushers, lectors, gift bears during the family Mass Feb. 10 at 9 a.m. Merrimack College, 319 Turnpike St., North Andover: Members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim community come together in Prayer, Feb. 6, 7-8:30 p.m. in Cascia Hall.

North Parish, 190 Academy Road, North Andover: The Rev. Lee Bluemel and the Membership Committee lead “Exploring Unitarian Universalism,” tomorrow and Feb. 10, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Reservations can be by sending an email to MembershipCoordinator@northparish.org. The movie, “Bag It” will be shown tomorrow, 6:30-8 p.m. Green Sanctuary Film Series presents, “Bag It” Feb. 10, 6:30-8:00 p.m. Discussion follows. Book group discusses “Albert Einstein” by Walter Issacson, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.

Sacred Hearts, South Main Street, Bradford: The parish hosts the city wide youth Mass Feb. 24 at 5 p.m.

St. Augustine chapel, 128 Ames St., Lawrence: Confirmation class hosts holy hour for the sick Feb. 10 at noon. St. David Episcopal, Main St., Salem: Course on basic Christianity begins tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. and every Sunday in February.

St. Joseph of St. Mary and Joseph Parish, 33 Main St., Salem: The Rev. John Michalowski leads a workshop on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius now through June. Participants will pray 45 to 60 minutes a day over the assigned scripture passages or meditations from Ignatius’ exercises, then write their experience in a journal. The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, continues Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter.

St. Matthew, 2 Searles Road, Windham: Men of St. Joseph meet Feb. 9 at 7:15 a.m. with praying of the rosary, Mass celebrated by the Rev. Thomas Frink of Sts. Mary and Joseph parish in Salem. Breakfast and reflection by Frink follow.

St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: The parish celebrates Father Paul Keyes’ 50th anniversary as a priest, tomorrow at noon. Reception follows. The Tuesday Bible study group explores the book of Revelation at 7:30 p.m. “Why Catholic?” a faith sharing group begins Feb. 10 and meets for six-week to explore the key tenets of the apostle’s creed with emphasis on the trinity, the incarnation and the paschal mystery.

St. Monica, 212 Lawrence St., Methuen: The Rev. David Taurasi celebras the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Reception follows. Latin Mass is celebrated Wednesday at 7 p.m.

St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: “Life and Faith” adult faith formation series exploring part II of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will be held Feb. 21, March 14 and April 11, from 7-8:30, through April.

St. Paul Episcopal, 390 Main St., North Andover: Arkady Tandilyan leads a spiritual conversation tomorrow at 5 p.m. to find inner harmony and pece with God through Christian spirituality, prayer, meditation and mysticism. The Women’s Book group reads “The Postmistress” by Sarah Blake, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

St. Robert Bellarmine, 198 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Religious brothers, sisters and priests are remembered tomorrow at 11 a.m. as part of Consecrated Life Day. The parish celebrates World Day of Prayer for the Sick with a communal anointing of the sick Feb. 10 during the 11 a.m. Mass.

Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: The movie, “The Lemon Tree” will be shown as part of the deli dinner and movie night, Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Cost is $15 and reservations must be made by Feb. 7. Cantor Idan Irelander leads a bar and bat mitzvah class for adults beginning Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Participants will learn to read Hebrew, the history of music and chant the Torah trope or the musical phrase cantillation applied to sacred text during public readings. The book group discusses “Heatwave and Crazy Birds” by Gabriela Avigor-Rotem, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. led by Rabbi Miriam Phillips.

Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St., Haverhill: Tomorrow at 1 p.m., the temple host memorial service honoring the Jewish, Catholic and Protestant chaplains who gave their life preservers when the USS Dorchester sunk on Feb. 3, 1943. The event is sponored by the American Legion, District 8. Reception follows at the Haverhill American Legion Post 4, 1314 Main St. Bible study class on the issues concerning Israel and the Middle East meets Feb. 9 at noon.

Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover: The church hosts “An Evening of Love Songs” a coffee house concert, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. featuring church’s soloists. Donation is $7.

Universalist Unitarian, 15 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill: The Book Group discusses “Redfield Farm” a novel by Judith Redline Coopey chronicling a Quaker family’s work on the underground railroad, Feb. 10 at 9:15 a.m. Rick Baillargeon, who has been married for 25 years, leads a workshop on relationships Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. He has taught prenuptial classes and counseling for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.