Someone called Oprah Winfrey came to dinner

By Nathalie Rothschild, February 16, 2012
Oprah Winfrey at table with the Ginsbergs

Oprah Winfrey at table with the Ginsbergs

The Ginsbergs and their nine children live in Borough Park, a Charedi neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York. Until recently they had never heard of Oprah Winfrey. They apparently have no idea who the many celebrities who have been on her show are and they have never taken advice from Dr Phil.

But then the US talkshow queen came over for dinner, production crew in tow. Over a meal of gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, potato kugel and challah bread, Oprah asked the Ginsbergs about what it is like growing up without gadgets, dating or pop music.

In "America's Hidden Culture", a two-part episode of her show, Oprah's Next Chapter, the media magnate also visits a black Orthodox family, talks to Chasidic women about their sex lives (they don't cut holes in the sheets) and finds out what kids who have never heard of Shrek or Miley Cyrus do for fun.

The Chabad movement is not, it seems, completely unaware of the power of Oprah. They posted an interview with her on their website in which Rabbi Motti Seligson asks what advice she would give to non-observant Jews exploring their heritage.

In the interview, Oprah expressed admiration for Orthodox parents who keep their children off electronic devices at a time when US children spend, on average, 7.5 hours a day using them. The Jewish children, she said, "are happy, fulfilled and loved". So is the world's most famous talkshow host having second thoughts about the benefits of TV?

Last updated: 1:36pm, February 16 2012