The name's Bond - Shlomo Bond

By Sandy Rashty, December 28, 2015
James Bond as played by Daniel Craig. But was 007 based on a Russian-Jewish spy?

James Bond as played by Daniel Craig. But was 007 based on a Russian-Jewish spy?

The secret's out.

James Bond is a Jew.

That's right. Her Majesty's most loyal secret servant, 007, the apple of every woman's eye - is a nice yiddishe boy.

At least, that's what more than 300 people were told at a Limmud session with Rabbi Raphael Zarum, of the London School of Jewish Studies, on Monday afternoon.

Dr Zarum told attendees that Ian Fleming's character - which has been played on screen by Sean Connery, Roger Moore and of late, Daniel Craig - is based on the life of Sidney Reilly, born Shlomo Rosenblum, a 19th-century Russian-Jewish spy who worked for Britain.

Rabbi Zarum argued that just like Reilley - who is widely considered to be the first "super spy" - the character of Bond is an outsider and master of deception.

"James Bond really is Jewish, I'm not making this up," he said.

"Fleming used Reilly as a model for Bond.

To be a spy you have to be a person outside of the system - a Jew. It's a great Jewish story."

Rabbi Zarum said the themes in Bond bore parallels with the Hebrew Bible, claiming James Bond's name was based on the character of Jacob.

"James is the Christian form of the name Jacob and Jacob had a lot of women too," he said, adding that the Jacob's biblical brother Esau, was represented in the Bond villains.

He made his point using examples from Craig's last two Bond films: Skyfall and Spectre.

In Skyfall, he argued that the villain Tiago Rodriguez bore the surname that translates as 'red-haired one' in the Middle Ages.

"Eisav was red, the hairy one.

"Does the film's director Sam Mendes know this? Probably not, but still," he said, adding that the character of spymaster M, played in Skyfall by Judi Dench, represented Jacob and Esau's biblical mother Rifka and they were fighting for her love and attention.

He added that the theme was continued in Spectre, with Bond and the villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

As the audience laughed, he continued: "You do what you want, I'm just telling you what the Torah says."

He added: "Bond's story is a great mythic story. Myths and stories are fundamental to who we are.
"I do not see cinema as escapism. I see them as reinforcing theories we have deep inside us."

Last updated: 5:52pm, December 28 2015