Our first Jewish cartoon spotlight, Kyle Broflovski, is one of the four main characters from Comedy Central’s all-time most successful show, South Park.
Kyle has appeared in every episode since South Park first aired in August 1997. He is distinguished from the other main characters by his green hat and orange winter coat. Kyle is also modeled after the show’s co-creator Matt Stone who was raised Jew(ish) in Littleton, Colorado. He sports a Jewfro similar to that of Stone before the stress of 237 episodes left him with a scaled-back do.
That Jewfro gets temporarily coiffed into a Pauly-D style in the show’s fourteenth season, when we learn that Kyle’s Jewish mother is originally from New Jersey.
Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s father, is an attorney and is always seen wearing a kippah–at home, in the courtroom, and even in the hot tub.
Kyle also has a younger brother Ike, who was born in Canada and adopted into the family.
We get to meet Kyle’s cousin from New York that he can’t stand: Kyle Schwartz. Schwartz’ neuroses and raspy voice are likely modeled after Jewish filmmaker Woody Allen.
At all times during the year, a menorah can be seen displayed in the living room of the Broflovski home.
Kyle’s Jewish identity has been featured prominently in several episodes:
“Mr. Hankey” (S1E9) In the winter of South Park’s first season, Kyle laments feeling ostracized by his town as he sings “It’s Hard to Be a Jew on Christmas”.
“Jewbilee” (S3E9): Kyle takes his non-Jewish pal Kenny to a Jewish scouting camp.
“The Passion of the Jew” (S8E3): Kyle confronts Mel Gibson about false depictions of Jewish people in his film, The Passion of the Christ.
“Jewpacabra” (S16E4): Kyle experiences Passover as his malicious cohort, Eric Cartman claims that the eighty-day festival is a threat to Easter egg hunts.
Cartman is Kyle’s primary nemesis on the show. Often the voice of ignorance, Cartman taunts Kyle and is quick to use Kyle’s religion as a pejorative. While Cartman’s outlandish and intentionally offensive characterizations of Kyle have become more gratuitous over the years, by the denouement of each episode, Cartman is duly punished for his anti-semetic school-yard slanders.
Kyle and his fellow South Park characters do not age on the show, although they did graduate from third grade to fourth grade in the fourth season. It might be nice to see what happens when Kyle finally gets Bar Mitzvahed.
While there has been no indication of this, we will have to wait and see what adventures Kyle is up to with his buddies when South Park’s 17th season premiers on September 25.
Reruns of South Park are aired every day on Comedy Central. Also, while it is not on Netflix, you can watch every episode of the show on their official website, www.southparkstudios.com