When Batwoman was announced as being the next series in The CW's Arrowverse, one of the questions many fans had was whether the heroine would be Jewish as she is in comics. Before the show's premiere, showrunner Caroline Dries confirmed that the series would keep Kate Kane's religious and cultural identity intact, though it would simply be part of the character's background -- something incorporated into the story without being a "huge thing". While there have been small glimpses of that, specifically in the Star of David on the grave of Gabrielle Kane in episode four, last night's "A Mad Tea-Party" made a direct confirmation.
In the episode, Kate (Ruby Rose) confronts Alice (Rachel Skarsten) about their father whom Kate has figured out is being impersonated by Mouse (Sam Littlefield). During the confrontation, Kate insists that there is still good inside of Alice and, as evidence of this, she note the photo of the two of them that Alice has kept with her all these years. It was, apparently, taken at the girls' Bat mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ritual for girls that happens when they turn either 12 or 13, depending upon which branch of Judaism is followed (generally, Orthodox Jews use the age of 12 if they perform Bat mitzvahs at all as many only mark Bar mitzvah for boys, Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jews use the age of 13 -- and based upon Kate and Beth Kane's age at the time of the accident that defines both of their stories, the Kanes are likely Reform, Reconstructionist or Conservative Jews.)
The low-key, but present approach to Kate's Jewish identity is in line with how it's addressed in comics as well. Religion, generally-speaking, isn’t known for being a big part of Batman's corner of the DC Comics universe, but when it comes to Batwoman, her faith is a notable part of who she is. In DC Infinity Holiday Special from 2006, readers get to see how faith impacts Kate's life when readers see her celebrating Hanukkah with Renee Montoya on Christmas Eve just before the pair share a kiss. With The CW maintaining Kate's Jewish identity, she's the third main Arrowverse character to be Jewish behind the late Martin Stein/Firestorm from Legends of Tomorrow and Felicity Smoak from Arrow -- though one could make the argument that Mia Smoak from Arrow is also Jewish given that it is "passed" matrilineally. If one includes Rory Regan/Ragman, a recurring character in Season 5, the number of Jewish characters in the Arrowverse jumps to five.
The approach to Kate's religious identity is also notable for its "part of the whole" approach that is also how Kate's sexuality is handled on the show as well. It's something that Dries made clear at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year that is just part of who the character is.
"What's important to us is Kate being gay is just another one of her traits, and we're not going to make it that huge in the story apart from the fact that when she falls in love, it's with a woman," Dries said.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW.
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