Hannah Einbinder Belts Out a Hebrew Song In Her New Stand-Up Special

In "Everything Must Go," the Jewish comedian sings "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" and calls herself a "bad Jew."

In nearly all 27 years of my life, I’ve only ever heard the phrase, “You may be seated” in synagogue. So when “You may be seated,” were the first words Hannah Einbinder uttered in her debut stand-up special “Everything Must Go,” I felt guided by the Jewish actress and comedian in the way only a rabbi previously could have.

In “Everything Must Go,” Einbinder establishes her own captivating comedic voice after three years of playing a comedy writer on “Hacks.” Throughout 55 minutes, she tells jokes about trying to meditate with ADHD, why we should cut down all the trees in America, getting her first period, being a competitive cheerleader and more. Her command of the audience is almost otherworldly; her tone, cadence, urgency and overall vibe is like that of a pastor at a megachurch or a conspiracy theorist or even just Matthew McConaughey in a car commercial. We’re all in the palm of her hand.

Einbinder demonstrates this command immediately up top. After “You may be seated,” the 28-year-old immediately pivots into a blue-lit, jazz-accompanied moment of noir; instead of the straight “let me tell you about myself” bit that comedians tend to do, Einbinder sultrily moves across stage. “My mother [Laraine Newman] had me when she was 42, because before that age, she was… busy,” she cooly shares. Immediately after, Einbinder moves into a story about how her parents tried to have a boy by destroying all the double X chromosomed sperm in her dad’s sample. All except her. “If they wanted to play God, they’d have to deal with the devil herself,” she explained.

Perhaps the most spell-binding moment of the hour — besides each time Einbinder looks knowingly, directly at camera, reminding the viewer who’s in charge — is the last ten or so minutes of the show. It also happens to be when Einbinder gets into her most Jewish material.

After talking about how “bisexuals are the Jews of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Einbinder tells the audience that she’s “a bad Jew.” Like many diaspora Jews, Einbinder only knows the Hebrew word “shalom.” So when she was recently at her Jewish grandmother’s funeral, Einbinder was worried she wouldn’t know the words of the final prayer. “But then,” she laughs, softly. “Just then, the clouds parted. And as if God himself shined his light of knowledge upon me, I began to sing.”

The lights immediately dim and a spotlight shines on the Jewish comedian. She does in fact begin to sing in Hebrew. At first, she looks confused, then transfixed by someone in the audience. Continuing to sing, she approaches them, creating subtle humor in pausing between verses. Before belting out the last verse of the song, which happens to be “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” she places her hand on the audience members head, blessing them and then caressing their face.

The audience applauds.

“But how could I possibly know the prayer? The melody? Every single lyric… I looked back to the sky, a single tear fell from my eye,” Einbinder explains, before the heavy punch: “And then I realized, ‘Oh this is just the last song in ‘Schindler’s List.’”

It’s the perfect climax for a show written by a comedian who is so outwardly and vocally Jewish.

Einbinder goes on to tell one more hilarious story from her grandmother’s funeral, before the curtain closes and she dramatically collapses onto the stage. It’s almost as if leading the audience through her hour took every ounce of energy, every story she wanted to tell. And yet, at the last moment before the screen fades to black, Einbinder turns to the camera once more. Perhaps it’s a signal that she’s not done yet. She has more stand-up to do, more jokes to tell and more Hebrew songs to sing.

And I, for one, simply cannot wait for it.

“Hannah Einbinder: Everything Must Go” debuts on Max on June 13, 2024.

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

Read More