Bruce Springsteen is the son of Catholic parents and grandparents. There is no ambiguity on this point. And yet, in much the same way that New York football fans have casually annexed the stadium across the river to root for what they like to pretend is their “home” team, some Jewish Springsteen fans are devoted to proving that New Jersey’s favorite Irish Italian son is, if not actually Jewish, nevertheless somehow Jew-ish. Perhaps you thought young Bruce was mostly singing about cars, girls, and getting the hell out of town before he switched gears to focus on the dignity of working folk, the broken promises of the American dream, and more cars and girls. But amid the empty factories, crowded barstools, and swimming holes that constitute the foundation of the Springsteen oeuvre, some detect a whiff of the Chosen.
Jews are an essential part of Springsteen’s entourage. His drummer, “Mighty” Max Weinberg, is so Jewish, his parents ran a Jewish summer camp in the Poconos. Bruce’s first sound engineer, Louis Lahav, was an Israeli. Bruce’s two managers, Mike Appel and Jon Landau, hail from the Hebraic faith. So does the record-company exec who originally signed him, Clive Davis. (Davis was forced out because—wait for it—he charged his kid’s bar mitzvah to the company.) Writers at the Forward newspaper have gone so far as to track “Springstein” misspellings in The New York Times. And the Forward writer Seth Rogovoy was pleased to read in Bruce’s 2016 memoir that in his teenage years, he lusted after Jewish neighborhood girls, with their “fabulous voluptuousness, full mouths, smooth dark skin and weighted breasts—oy!”