20 Famous Jewish Celebrities Kicking Ass in Hollywood
The entertainment industry is full of people from all different backgrounds. It’s this diversity that makes Hollywood such a melting pot of cultures. Along with people who have varying ethnicities and genders, there are also many religious entertainers doing great work. You might not know but there has been an influx of Jewish celebrities making their mark in Hollywood over the past few decades.
While you are probably aware of famous Jewish celebrities such as Jerry Seinfeld and Seth Rogan, you might be surprised by who else follows the religion. Shining a light on Judaism and those that follow the faith, here are 20 of the most famous Jewish celebrities kicking ass in Hollywood.
1. Seth Rogan
Actor, comedian, and screenwriter Seth Rogan has never been one to shy away from his Jewishness. The Pineapple Express and Knocked Up star has always been open about his experiences as a Jewish man in modern society.
“Being Jewish is complicated,” he said in an interview with comic Marc Maron. “And being a famous Jewish person is, in some ways, a little bit more complicated,” he added. Balancing Jewish culture and Jewish history in the current day is something that challenges Rogan, although he is always striving to be the best version of himself he can.
2. Ilana Glazer
The Broad City actress is unashamedly Jewish, just like her character in the hit Comedy Central show. The series cast a light on what it’s like being a Jewish person as a millennial, with Glazer hilarious as the sex-positive Ilana Wexler who is proud of her heritage. It’s not often that Jewish characters are shown in such a positive life, with the usual self-deprecating humor of Jewish comedians replaced by Wexler’s naive lust for life and an open-eyed world outlook that never makes her a caricature of Judaism stereotypes.
As well as Broad City, Glazer released her debut stand-up comedy show in 2020 and has been serving as a producer on the Broadway show A Strange Loop.
3. Daniel Radcliffe
I bet you didn’t know Harry Potter was brought up as a follower of the Jewish faith. Although he is not a practicing Jew, Daniel Radcliffe is glad he was brought up by a Jewish mom and has nothing but respect for the religion.
4. Scarlett Johansson
Although born in the States, Scarlett Johansson has Danish and Jewish heritage. Her father hails from Copenhagen and her mother is a Jewish woman from the Bronx. And while Johansson doesn’t speak much about her private life, she has said she identifies as a Jewish person. Apparently, Tom Cruise even tried to convert her to Scientology, but she held firm.
5. Ben Platt
Not only is Ben Platt Jewish, but he’s also queer. He came out as gay to his parents while on a class trip to Israel. Luckily for Platt, his parents were very understanding and he has managed to live a life free of being burdened by his religious and sexual preferences.
6. Sarah Silverman
Comedian and actress Sarah Silverman has been very open about being Jewish. She often comments on the religion in her stand-up routines, talking about her Jewish family and what it’s like being a Jewish woman in today’s society.
The one downside is that she is often typecast. Chatting with Howard Stern she explained how “The parts I get to play, you’re either a sassy friend of the main character who’s just in charge of exposition…or you’re that guy’s sleazy book agent, or scumbag executive.”
7. Sacha Baron Cohen
The British comedian best known for playing Ali G and Borat is also of the Jewish faith. While he isn’t a strict Jew, Sacha Baron Cohen tries to maintain a kosher diet and attends synagogue at least twice a year. “I wouldn’t say I am a religious Jew,” he said in an interview with The Times. “I am proud of my Jewish identity and there are certain things I do and customs I keep.”
His wife, Australian actress Isla Fisher, converted to Judaism for him and the two married in 2010 in a Jewish ceremony in Paris.
8. Mila Kunis
That ’70s Show star Mila Kunis is another Hollywood actress who follows the Jewish faith. While she isn’t as steadfast in her religion as some, she does observe Shabbat in her own way, telling Dax Shepherd on his podcast that Friday nights are a time when the family gets together, reconnects, and talks about their week.
9. Jack Black
Comedian, actor, and musician Jack Black is another celebrity with Jewish roots. His mother was Jewish and his father converted to Judaism when they married. During a chat with the H3 Podcast, Black revealed he was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah, but stopped practicing soon after. He now considers himself an atheist but said he wants his kids to be raised Jewish.
10. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth Paltrow was born to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. Growing up she was exposed to both faiths and was rumored to have taken up Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism.
In 2014 she converted to Judaism to reconnect with her heritage and would go on to marry Jewish producer and director Brad Falchuk.
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11. Billy Joel
Musician Billy Joel is another Jewish celebrity born to parents who both followed the religion. Despite being born into a Jewish household, Joel was not raised with the religion and attended a Catholic school. He was baptized in a Church of Christ in Hicksville at age 11, but the experience hasn’t left a positive mark, with Joel considering himself an atheist these days.
12. Paula Abdul
Although she grew up in a Jewish household, Paula Abdul never went to Hebrew school or had a bar mitzvah. This didn’t stop her from following the Jewish religion. In 2013 at the age of 51, she made the pilgrimage to Israel.
“Beyond being Jewish, I’ve always found myself to be very much in tune with spirituality,” Abdul told The Associated Press. “I feel very grateful coming to Israel now, where as a woman I know who I am a lot more than even ten years ago.”
13. Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix has been exposed to several religions throughout his life. His grandparents were Jewish immigrants who escaped Russian for the Bronx, but he wasn’t brought up with the religion. Instead, his parents belonged to the infamous Children of God cult.
These days Phoenix is a secular jew, which is someone who identifies as Jewish but has nothing to do with the religion.
14. Barbra Streisand
Famous entertainer Barbra Streisand was brought up by Jewish parents. At the age of five, she began her education at the Jewish Orthodox Yeshiva of Brooklyn. “I was raised in a religious home,” she told Refinery29 in 2019. “The Sabbath was always honored, candles were lit. My grandfather went to synagogue every Saturday and he would take me along.”
As well as following the religion, Streisand has played many Jewish characters in movies such as Funny Girl, Funny Lady, Hello Dolly!, and Yentl.
15. Bob Dylan
Musician Bob Dylan has been both Jewish and Christian. He was raised in a Jewish household and had a bar mitzvah. In 1971 he even visited Israel and also met with Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the New York-based Jewish Defense League.
He converted to Christianity in the late 70s but by the end of the 80s was back identifying with the Jewish religion. He is a supporter of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic dynasty, and had his sons attend Hadar Hatorah as kids.
16. Natalie Portman
The Black Swan actress was born in Israel and has always had an affiliation with the religion. She wants to raise her kids as Jewish and even got her husband to convert to Judaism.
Natalie Portman is very in tune with Jewish culture and history, explaining to Harper’s Bazaar how her “great-grandparents were killed in the camps, and my grandfather’s younger brother was shot in Poland during the war,” and what impact this had on her.
17. Adam Sandler
Jewish actor and comedian Adam Sandler is another famous Jewish celebrity who has always been open about his religion. He’s often used it as part of his comedy act, including his iconic Hanukkah song, “Eight Crazy Nights.” He even got his wife to convert to Judaism.
18. Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones was brought up in a Jewish household but never had a bar mitzvah. The daughter of African-American record producer Quincy Jones and Jewish actress Peggy Lipton has had a successful film career and is proud of her Jewish heritage as she discussed with Porter magazine in 2018.
“I am a product of slaves. I am also a product of Jewish immigrants and Holocaust survivors,” Jones said. “I have a responsibility to represent those things. The possibility of me being alive is so slim.”
19. Bob Saget
Comedian and actor Bob Saget was another Jewish celebrity who struggled with his religion at times. “I’m not gonna lie, I’ve gone in and out of feeling closer and not closer to [my faith] and I think a lot of that has to do with difficulties and pain and a lot of losses the past couple years, I lost some serious friends,” Saget told host Jay Sanderson on The Jewish Federation’s Jay’s 4 Questions podcast.
“It’s complicated, it’s a very complicated thing and yet … I’m very proud that I’m a Jewish person.”
20. Wynona Ryder
Like many actors and actresses, Wynona Ryder understands her Jewish history but doesn’t follow the religion. As she told the Times of London in a 2020 interview, she’s “not religious, but I do identify” as Jewish.
Ryder’s family migrated from Russia during the war to make a new life in America. She had a cousin and several other family members die in concentration camps during the Holocaust.
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