November 1, 2004 | Issue 15

Orthodox "Survivor" Driving Tribemates Batty

TRISTAN DA CUNHA, SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN — [] The Survivor series has had many contestants, from a rainbow of nationalities, but it's never had a Jew before, it certainly hasn't had an orthodox Jew and it definitely hasn't had one that brought along a Shabbos goy as a luxury item.

Gershon Cohen, of Kensington, Brooklyn, decided to try out for Survivor because of a bet. His audition tape, which showed him surviving the wilds of Boro Park, was a hit with the casting staff. Little did they know exactly how odd he would appear to the other contestants.

Amy Rohler, a bonds trader from Lansing, Michigan, describes Gershon as, "Odd. I mean it's one thing to use the Shabbos goy to write down a name at the tribal council, but it's quite another to have him compete in his stead for reward and immunity challenges."

Contestants have always been allowed to bring three changes of clothing with them. Gershon brought two changes of clothing and successfully claimed to producers that his tallis and tefillin were his third change of clothing.

Steve Nadel, a taxidermist from Orlando, Florida, finds other behaviors irritating. "He refuses to shake hands or slap high five with the female survivors," said Steve. "But every Friday afternoon the man strips naked, jumps in the ocean, dunks three times and jumps out. What is up with THAT?"

When Rupert Strohman caught a bull in the jungle, Gershon insisted on slaughtering the animal himself. He annoyed his tribemates by sharpening a long stone for hours while everyone else waited for their meal. His team was seriously confused when he covered up all of the blood in the sand, then dug out the thigh vein.

Gershon further frustrated the castaways when they finally confronted him early one morning about his odd behavior. All he said was, "Uh, nu, psukei d'zimro."


Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded, and writes books from 5-9:


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