Canadian actor, writer and director Seth Rogen has been reflecting on his religion ahead of the release of the new film An American Pickle.
The comedy-drama, which is directed by Brandon Trost but starring Rogen in the lead role, follows Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling Jewish immigrant labourer who immigrates to America in 1920 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family.
“One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years,” the synopsis reads. “The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present-day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is horrified to learn that his only surviving relative is his great-grandson, Ben Greenbaum, a mild-mannered computer programmer whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.”
Rogen, who was born in Vancouver to a Jewish family and attended Jewish camp as child, revealed that his parents met on a kibbutz in Israel and the religion has had a heavy effect on his life. In a bid to promote the film, the actor appeared on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast to discuss life as a Jewish person and the issues with Israel.
“[As] a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life,” Rogen told Maron who is also Jewish. “I remember my dad frankly telling me, ‘People hate Jews. Just be aware of that. They just do.’ And it’s honestly something that I am so glad was instilled in me from a young age. Because if it wasn’t, I would constantly be shocked at how much motherfuckers hate Jews.”
The conversation was drawn towards the conflict between Israel and Palestine, an issue which began in the mid-20th century when close to a million Palestinians forced to leave their homes to flee the fighting during the 1948. It was this battle that led to the creation of Israel and now sees millions of Palestine refugees in severe difficulty.
“You know, they never tell you that, ‘Oh, by the way, there were people there.’ They make it seem like it was just sitting there – oh the fucking door’s open!” Rogen said of the lack of information he recieved about the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Discussing the Jewish state, Rogen added: “For religious reasons, I don’t agree with it because I think religion is silly. If it is truly for the preservation of Jewish people, it makes no sense, because, again, you don’t keep something you’re trying to preserve all in one place – especially when that place has proven to be pretty volatile. ‘I’m trying to keep all these things safe; I’m going to put them in my blender and hope that that’s the best place! That’ll do it!’ It doesn’t make sense to me. And I also think that as a Jewish person, like I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life.”
Asked if he would ever go to live in Israel, Rogen said no. Maron replied: “I’m the same way, and we’re gonna piss off a bunch of Jews.”
Maron also suggested that he was “frightened” to have conversations about the topic publicly and later suggested that people he was afraid of were Jews.
“It’s scary,” Rogen admitted, “But we’re Jews – we can say whatever we want. We should. I mean, if anyone can say whatever they fucking want about this shit, it should be two famous Jewish people. If anyone’s getting rounded up first, it’s our fucking asses.”