When Howard Stern first hit the airwaves, none of us had ever heard anything quite like it. Labelled a “shock jock,” his radio show contained content that was more graphic, sexual, and lewd than had ever been broadcast. Still, he attracted enough of a following to earn his own satellite radio channel even if, today, he tones it down enough to appear as a judge on a family television program like America’s Got Talent.
Listeners wondered about what the effect of his radio show would be on their children, but I wonder how many thought about how his raunchy style might influence the lives of his own kids. Emily Stern, his 32-year-old daughter, recently shed some light on her personal experience. Her life, it seems could not be any different from her famous father’s public personality.
Devout and Modest
Almost ten years ago, Emily made the decision to begin practicing Orthodox Judaism. On any given day, it’s not unusual to find her, just blocks away from her dad’s Upper West Side home, reciting a blessing while wearing a modest ankle-length skirt.
The Torah-scholar spends her Friday evenings hosting Shabbat dinners at her apartment instead of going out on the town. For now, she is also single and told the New York Post*: “It’s rare I go on dates [now]… my dad’s emphasis on sexuality [in his career] kept me out of the dating ring [when I was younger].”
Emily and her sisters, Ashley and Debra, were shocked when their parents divorced. Howard had been married to his college sweetheart, Alison Berns, for 21 years. Emily told the Post: “I believed that my parents were very much in love. I felt like the divorce came out of nowhere. I thought that sacred bond was so strong. He used to be one way, and then he marries a model.” She’s referring, of course, to the fact that her father married Beth Ostrosky, a model 18 years his junior, in 2008.
While trying to figure out what went wrong with her parents marriage, Emily theorized that her father resented her mother for returning to work as a psychoanalyst. Maybe Alison’s profession clashed with how he felt about the world around him in light of his fame. Emily recalled: “My dad always instilled in us, ‘Everybody’s watching you.’ I was alone. The belief that we were so different made it unhealthy. Maybe because he was disconnected from the world, he experienced so much shame about who he was.”
Finding Her Own Path
While Emily does say that her family observed Yom Kippur and Passover while she was growing up, she does acknowledge that her parents were not very religious. Instead, they practiced Transcendental Meditation, something Emily continues to this day.
She graduated from NYU’s Tish School’s theater program, but says that she didn’t receive enough guidance from her parents in pursuing a career. Instead, she had to try to navigate the industry on her own and it didn’t always go well.
For now, Emily is focusing on photography and recently had an exhibit at the Hadas Gallery in Brooklyn. Despite the transitions, she remains “close with both” parents who have shown no resentment towards her more religious lifestyle. She’s a great example of finding a life that works for you, regardless of how you were raised.