Friday, February 10, 2012
Oprah Winfrey has discovered her inner Jewishness.
Winfrey, who rarely does interviews, sat for a TV chat with a Hasidic rabbi on the day last fall she immersed herself in Brooklyn's Hasidic neighborhoods.
The interview, produced by Oprah's OWN network and posted Wednesday only on chabad.org, the Web site of the Lubavitcher sect, was a rare scoop for a site that deals mainly in religious practices.
"There's more Hasidic Jew in me than I know," says Winfrey — dressed in a modesty-preserving ankle-length skirt— at the end of the interview with Rabbi Motti Seligson, the Web site's media liason.
"She was very real and very warm and easy to connect with," Seligson told The Post yesterday. "What I really think was nice about this was [Winfrey's] willingness to experience Hasidic life — as opposed to just going off stereotypes."
Last October, Oprah took cameras into Hasidic homes in Borough Park, Crown Heights and a mikvah, a ritual bathhouse, in Brooklyn Heights as a part of her "America's Hidden Culture" segment on her weekly "Oprah's Next Chapter Show" show.
Seligson is briefly featured at the beginning of Sunday's episode, in which Winfrey also visits the Ginsberg family.
In the interview, Winfrey says that her experience dispelled some of her misconceptions about Hasidic Jews.
"I have been perhaps, like most people who've walked down the street and seen Hasidic Jewish men, in particular . . . oftentimes wearing the hats and long beards and always found it somewhat formidable or intimidating," she says.
"This experience has really confirmed and affirmed what I truly believe as one of my deep spiritual principles — that we're all more alike than different."
Winfrey also says she was "speechless" that, when she visited the Ginsberg family — and mentioned Mickey Mouse, Shrek, Beyoncé and Jay-Z to their kids — none of them recognized the references.
"They said they didn't even care and weren't even curious about it," she tells Seligson.
"We live in a culture where seven-and-a-half hours a day are spent consumed by some electronic device . . . It's amazing to me that, right across from Manhattan, there's a whole world of children who aren't doing that and who are happy, fulfilled and loved."
"I had a few questions I wanted to ask her," Seligson said yesterday, explaining innocently how he got the interview.
"I really wanted to hear about her experiences," he said.
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