Barbra Streisand could have done buttah by marrying a Jew

Beezer, Beezer, Beezer.

If you're one of her legion of devoted fans, you know exactly who I'm talking about.

None other than Barbra. La Streisand.

Beezer is what her main squeeze, James Brolin, calls her. That's his show of affection, just like the old "Coffee Talk" sketch on "Saturday Night Live" used to worship her by saying her voice was "like buttah."

Many, many over the years have bowed to her talent and shown a devotion to her that borders on the Elvis-like.

I am not and have never been one of those.

I have to admire her talent, her voice, her comedic skills, but I just don't care for her.

In trying to understand that, I think there are two reasons. The first is her well-deserved reputation for being a tyrant, being very difficult to work with, a perfectionist who shoots the same scene over and over until it satisfies her even if it exasperates everyone else involved with it.

My other problem with her is that she commits the cardinal sin of thinking her amazing talent in one area makes her expert in all areas. Yes, she has an incredible voice, yes, she's a powerful presence on the movie screen, yes, she can direct and write as well as act. But that doesn't mean she's qualified to, as she did, give an address on government at the Kennedy School at Harvard.

If it ain't to sing, she ought to keep her mouth closed.

Now you may be wondering at this point why I'm sharing my thoughts and feelings about Ms. Streisand. The reason, of course, is that she was in the news last week.

She got married. When I heard that, I found myself surprisingly very, very angry at her. Surprising because I almost never take note of what she's up to and surprising because when I do, it's basically to dismiss her, for reasons explained above.

But this time I found myself getting mad, really mad.

The papers and TV shows, of course, all gave the event the intense coverage it deserved. And each duly noted in its coverage that the wedding was "a traditional Jewish ceremony."

That's what got me mad.

One problem though. While the wedding had a rabbi, a broken glass, even Marvin Hamlisch, what it did not have was two Jews as the primary participants.

It had Barbra, sure, who's as Jewish as buttah. But it also had James Brolin, who is not.

Now I suppose it's not politically correct of me to say and perhaps not even pluralistically correct of me to say, but I got a problem saying a wedding was a traditional Jewish ceremony if it don't got a Jewish groom and a Jewish bride.

You can skip the chopped liver, skip playing "Mazel Tov," hell, even skip the rabbi but the only thing that truly makes a wedding Jewish is one Jew marrying another.

And there's nothing wrong in saying that. Though there seems to be. In moving away from the time when a parent would literally sit shiva for a child that intermarried, it seems we've moved too far, moved to where there's no stigma to intermarrying, to where the only thing that counts is that "he's (she's) a nice guy (girl) and he (she) loves him (her)."

Losing that stigma is not a good thing. But it seems we have. Even though no respectable rabbi of any denomination, not Orthodox, not Conservative, not Reform, will officiate at an intermarriage.

The fact that that's something virtually all rabbis, traditional or liberal, hold sacred should send a signal of stigma. But based on the numbers, clearly it doesn't.

And Barbra sure as hell doesn't help. Here you have our little Barbra who so many Jews look up to and adore, little Barbra who made such a big deal out of making the movie "Yentl" and who talked about all the Jewish learning she did while doing it, little Barbra who in her very latest album sings the "Avinu Malkeinu" prayer, little Barbra marrying a non-Jew.

Why? Essentially because he's a nice guy and she loves him.

That, after all, is all that matters. Even to Barbra, who's made a career emphasizing her Jewishness, from her unfixed nose to her New York accent to her self-deprecating jokes such as the one in her movie "The Mirror with Two Faces" in which she says the only thing her mother taught "me about the Sabbath is that Saks wouldn't be as crowded."

I don't minimize the impact something like Barbra's marriage has on intermarriage because high-profile Jews doing the wrong thing do much to cause the stigma against intermarriage to disappear.

And high-profile Jews do seem to be doing much. I saw just how much a couple of weeks ago in that Bible of popular culture, People magazine. The magazine put out a special weddings issue, in which Jews played a fairly prominent part.

And a very destructive role. The marriage of Larry King and Shawn Southwick was a "Mormon Jewish ceremony," we are told. The wedding of Phil Bronstein and Sharon Stone was one in which "Bronstein, following Jewish custom, broke a glass underfoot."

Problem is that Shawn and Sharon aren't Jewish.

And that wasn't all. I don't know if it's worse or not, but the marriages of three other Jews Woody Allen, William Shatner and Andrew Schiff (a descendant of banker-philanthropist Jacob Schiff who married Vice President Gore's daughter) don't have any mention of anything Jewish in their ceremonies.

And so you have five high-profile couples whose weddings rated a mention in People, but at each wedding you had only one Jew. Even though at two of the weddings you had Jewish tradition.

Just like at Barbra's wedding.

What that tells young Jews out there is that it really doesn't matter who you marry, as long as you have something Jewish in your wedding, a traditional ceremony, a breaking of the glass. That'll take care of the Jewish part.

It don't work that way. Jews marrying Jews is important because the Torah told us it is. And if that isn't good enough for you, it's important because it is the very best way to keep alive the culture and peoplehood of a very, very small tribe in a very big world.

Barbra, who makes so much of being Jewish, did so much damage by sending the message that it's not who you marry but how Jewish the ceremony is that counts.

Wrong. Next time, Barbra, forget about Hamlisch playing "Hava Nagilah" and stand under the chuppah with a nice Jewish boy.

I'm telling you, it'll be like buttah.