15 Celebs You Didn’t Know Were Jewish
Jewish celebrities might not be something you think about all the time. But think again. What could be more relevant these days than the popular Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump? The website Haaret published an article by Chemi Shalev called “The Shameful Jewish Silence on Trump’s Anti-immigration Incitement” last week. Shalev writes about Jewish immigration in the 1800’s and “were it not for the kind of anti-immigrant sentiment that Trump is stoking now, together with the lethal mix of religious and racist hatred of Jews that was rampant in those years, America could have saved countless more Jews than Roosevelt.” We are truly a country of diverse celebrities, including our favorite Jewish celebrities.
Straight up now tell me, do you really want to love Paula Abdul forever? Those are Paula Abdul’s lyrics. Bet you never thought you would read about Paula Abdul in the Jewish Journal! Well, she’s there in all of her post-American Idol glory. Abdul was born to Jewish parents from the Syrian Jewish community in Aleppo. Abdul recently walked with the Israeli team during the opening ceremony for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
Jerry Seinfeld was born to a father who was Jewish immigrant from Kherson Oblast and a Syrian Jewish mother. He volunteered in Kibbutz Sa’ar at the age of 16. Seinfeld told ESPN this summer, “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘They’re so PC.’ They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
Natalie Portman is Jewish and she told the Independent, “I think a really big question the Jewish community needs to ask itself, is how much at the forefront we put Holocaust education…which is, of course, an important question to remember and to respect, but not over other things. We need to be reminded that hatred exists at all times and reminds us to be empathetic to other people that have experienced hatred also.”
Jeff Goldblum was born to a Jewish family, belonged to an Orthodox synagogue and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Last week, SFist wrote a piece about him that highlighted his musical talents. He has a Mildred Snitzer Orchestra and performs weekly in Los Angeles. “I like to improvise. I like to do cold readings. I’m a big proponent of preparation, coming up with an interesting way to play something whether it’s musically or theatrically,” Goldblum told SFist.
Shia LaBeouf told Indie London, “Yeah, my dad’s Cajun. I have a cool lineage, a good group of people. I’m Jewish so I was named after my grandfather. Shia means “gift from God” and LaBeouf means “the beef” so my name means “thank God for beef!” According to Venture Capital, LaBeouf seems to have gotten over Mia Goth and there are rumors that he has a new girlfriend in Studio City. They even got groceries together at Gelson’s.
Maya Rudolph was born to a father who was an Ashkenazi Jew and an African-American mother. Even more interesting is that her grandfather owned all of the Wendy’s and Rudy’s restaurants in Dade County, Florida. Think of all the Wendy’s nuggets you could eat! Fill up on the sweet and sour sauce for a good old time. Vanity Fair reported that Maya Rudolph will have a variety show with Martin Short.
Kat Graham was born in Switzerland to an Americo-Liberian father and a Jewish mother. She has a half-brothe rnamed Yakov in Tel Aviv, Israel. Graham also attended Hebrew school. Graham was on the show “Stalker” about victims of stalking which starred Dylan McDermott and Maggie Q. Graham can be found on Youtube singing songs that say, “all of my secrets turn me on, cause nobody knows,” and “let’s do it in public.”
Drake’s father is an African-American and his mother is a Jewish Canadian. He attended a Jewish day school and also had a bar mitzvah. “The racism I experienced was being Jewish. Jewish kids didn’t understand how I could be black and Jewish, because we’re all young. It was just stupid, annoying rich kids that were closed-minded and mean, so I dealt with that more than anything. But it had everything to do with being Jewish, not being black,” Drake told Vibe.
Matisyahu is an American Jewish musician who was controversially barred from a reggae festival in Spain, according to Jpost. Protestors did not like his lack of response to political issues regarding Palestine. “Whoever you are and wherever you come from, raise a flag and wave it in the air. Let music be your flag,” Matisyahu told the crowd. Matisyahu was raised as a Reconstructionist Jew and attended Hebrew school at Bet Am Shalom.
Paul Rudd is Ant-man, but did you know he was Jewish? “I was always in new school and had British parents, which was not the norm, and I think there was also… I’m not particularly religious, but I was born Jewish and I always felt like the outsider because I wasn’t Christian or Catholic. So I learned early on that I could be accepted if I made people laugh when I turned the joke on myself,” Rudd told The Guardian.
It’s official. Forbes recently released an article called “Why Adam Sandler is Failing While Tom Cruise is Kicking Butt.” Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. “Sandler’s career is on a downhill slide while Cruise is making a nice comeback,” says the article. Sandler’s new movie “Pixels” was not able to make the top spot. Sandler grew up in a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York. Don’t forget he also made that Hanukkah song in that cartoon movie.
Amy Schumer was raised Jewish? According to Jeffrey Salkin’s website, he was her rabbi at Central Synagogue of Nassau County. “I remember Amy as a sweet, funny kid, who often asked probing and humorous questions in religious school. Amy has catapulted to the very top of American popular consciousness. I enjoyed “Trainwreck.” It tells the story of a woman who avoids true intimacy,” said Salkin. That’s a bit awkward since Amy has a bedroom scene with John Cena.
Seth Rogen was born to two parents who met in Israel at a kibbutz as radical Jews. He went to Vancouver Talmud torah Elementary school and went to a Habonim Dror camp. On Marc Maron’s show, he said, “The Jewish population in Canada just dipped to zero” after talking about bringing his friends from Canada down to Los Angeles for a premiere. He also mentioned his dad’s farrakhan yarmulke and said, “I think it was his way of grappling with baldness.”
Andy Samberg’s family is Jewish. His grandfather was the executive chair of the American Jewish Congress. On the show “Chelsea Lately,” Chelsea Handler joked with him about his background. “You’re pretty Jew-y looking,” Handler said. “I’m pretty Jew-y. And my last name is Samberg,” said Samberg. Samberg is going to host the Emmys next month on Fox. He will probably do a great job and recently released a list of words that sound dirty.
Jon Stewart opened the Sunday SummerSlam Show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Stewart ran to the ring with a chair and knocked out John Cena, according to Yahoo. Stewart also had Jewish jokes earlier this year to talk about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. “The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed Congress today in observance of the sacred Jewish holiday of Suuk-on-it-Mr.-President,” said Stewart on “The Daily Show.”