At halftime, a religious alternative to Beyonce

(RNS) Super Bowl halftime shows often burn more vivid images into the American conscience than the most-watched football game of the year, and can claim millions more viewers.

They can also ignite controversy, as Janet Jackson did with her halftime "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004. Last year, performing with Madonna, British-born hip-hop star M.I.A. gave the finger to 114 million people.

janet jackson

Janet Jackson. Image courtesy of Andy Liang via Wikimedia Commons.

Outraged by the raunchy behavior, or simply to capture some of the Super Bowl’s supersized audience, some religious programmers are now producing halftime shows of their own.

In direct response to the Jackson breast-baring, Sky Angel, a national Christian television network, the next year offered a halftime alternative to Paul McCartney singing “Hey Jude,” with a special that included testimony from Christian athletes, as well as commentary about the Patriots-Eagles matchup.

More recently, Catholic TV and the Eternal Word Television Network have aired the Faith Bowl at halftime. Produced by the Hollywood-based, Catholic-oriented Family Theater Productions, the show has featured Catholics in sports preaching about how faith can inspire an athlete.

Last year, Yeshiva University, the Orthodox Jewish university in New York City, introduced its “Torah Super Bowl Halftime Show” online, with glitzy, NFL-style graphics. Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff, who has moonlighted as a comedian, kicked off the first of three mini-lessons: “I thought maybe we could learn something by watching these people run around the field.”

The show got more than 3,000 hits.

This Sunday (Feb. 3), a new crop of scholars from Yeshiva, which doesn't have a football team, will relate the finer points of the sport to the Hebrew Bible, and intersperse their teachings with trivia. For example: “Who was the only Jewish football player to win four Super Bowls?” (The answer: Randy Grossman, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.)


Beyonce performs in 2007. RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Rabbi Kenneth Brander, head of the Center for the Jewish Future at Yeshiva University, and one of the featured teachers in this year’s YU video, is going up against 16-time Grammy winner Beyonce at halftime, as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. He will keep the tone light as he compares football heroes to biblical heroes, and quipped that unlike Beyonce at President Obama's inauguration, he and the other Torah scholars will actually be saying what the audience is hearing.

"We won't be lip-syncing," he said.

Brander described the YU halftime show as less a reaction to the halftime antics of the past than a chance to impart some Torah wisdom to whomever might tune in.

"A lot of people are watching the Super Bowl and the halftime show can be a time of reflection and introspection," Brander said. "Why not be able to cull from sports ideas that can be transformative for Americans' lives?"

You can watch the “Torah Super Bowl Halftime Show” on Super Bowl Sunday at



  1. Halftime Alternative!
    Great idea.
    Thank you for passing this on.
    Entertainment from last year was more of indoctrination to Pool of Fire University….so many have sold their souls to reap fame and fortune. The little Detroit harlot from last year is proof positive that Satan reigns in show business. Well his day is almost over and the frogs that haven’t jumped out of the boiling pot of water will make a tasty meal for the old Deceiver.
    Yes…We are praying and fasting for them, so they make it out of the pot.
    Please do likewise.

  2. It’s about time! Who wants to listen to someone who thinks She all that ! She said that She lip synced at the presidents (DICTATOR’S) event!!! Lets for once have some really GOOD FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT THAT EVERY ONE CAN ENJOY!!!!

  3. We’re inviting some family friends and clergy to watch the game with us. Our halftime show will be recitation of the rosary.

  4. CL-
    When you arrive at the third Glorious mystery please ask the Holy Spirit to convert each viewer of the game to return to the Sacraments. Please.

  5. It is time the American people start to demand MORE family friendly viewing programs and not just at half time. Cable cost so very much and if you want to stay to something that has great moral and family values, as God has ordained them, there just aren’t many stations to choose from.

  6. So this contact sport that promotes traumatic brain injury and over competitiveness in males is morally healthy? No peeking at the cheerleaders….

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