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Kathie Lee wants rabbinical degree

While celebrating 60th birthday on live television, host jokes about attending Yeshiva University

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Celebrity television host Kathie Lee Gifford would like to attend Yeshiva University and become a rabbi, if her Friday appearance on NBC’s The Today Show is anything to go by.

Gifford, who hosts alongside fellow television personality Hoda Kotb, celebrated her 60th birthday on the show Friday, and discussed the things she’d like to accomplish.

One 60-year-old viewer wrote in, saying she was in her senior year of college and set to graduate in November.

“Would you go back to college if you could?” Gifford asked Kotb.

“No,” replied her co-host. “I think that there’s a lot you can learn, but you don’t really have to be in college,” Kotb said.

Kathie Lee Gifford (photo credit: Greg Hernandez/Flickr/Wikipedia)
Kathie Lee Gifford (photo credit: Greg Hernandez/Flickr/Wikipedia)

To Kotb’s surprise, Gifford then exclaimed, “I want to go to Yeshiva University and become a rabbi.

“I want to get my Orthodox rabbinical degree,” said the host, a born-again Christian with Jewish roots who first rose to superstardom alongside former co-anchor Regis Philbin on the talk show Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee.

(Gifford was born Kathryn Lee Epstein, and her paternal grandfather was a Russian Jew. She told CNN’s Larry King in 2000: “My father’s Jewish by birth and by race and blood. My mom was raised Christian, and we were raised in a godly home… We didn’t go to synagogue, but I was raised with many Jewish traditions and raised to be very grateful for my Jewish heritage, and taught all my life that Jesus was Jewish, the disciples were Jewish, Mary Magadalene was Jewish. It was all came — the first pope was Peter. He was Jewish.”)

As Kotb smiled in amusement, Gifford continued. “I want to understand what words mean, what all the context is. I’m so fascinated by that stuff.”

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