By Kate Weldon LeBlanc
Ethan Zohn was the keynote speaker at the JF&CS Board of Advocates annual meeting on November 1st. I found Ethan’s remarks not only funny and inspiring but relevant to the JF&CS mission.
Ethan is best known for winning Survivor: Africa (season three) and for the $1,000,000 in prize money. My husband Joe and I watched Survivor faithfully during this time. We were big fans of Ethan, at first because he was from Lexington, Massachusetts and later because he competed with such skill and honor. Ethan managed to win without a single competitor ever voting against him and feels that his integrity has roots in his Jewish faith. Ethan remarked:
“Reality television has been criticized for being against things Jewish, and these critics viewed Survivor as a game that rewarded one for being dishonest and selfish, and one had to isolate oneself in a community to win. I can see these points, but I do not agree. I made myself a crucial member of the community. I was selfless in a selfish game. I was a teacher and a leader. And while I’m certainly proud of winning Survivor, I’m more proud of knowing and understanding what it was that helped me win – my Jewish upbringing – embracing it wholeheartedly, embracing it publicly, and embracing it personally.”
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