Best Jewish Characters on TV

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Hillel Ontario, Uncategorized | 0 comments

It’s always a pleasant surprise to see Jewish characters on major television series. We instantly feel a connection to them and enjoy the Jewish references, such as Shabbat dinners and Jewish holidays. Over the years, we have been introduced to a number of memorable Jewish television characters in both starring and supporting roles. Here are some of our favourites:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Midge Maisel

Set in the 1950s, Midge Maisel is a young Jewish woman living on the Upper West Side in New York City. After her husband leaves her, she tries to pursue a career as a comedian. The show provides us with many familiar Jewish traditions, such as Shabbat dinners, breaking the fast at Yom Kippur, going to shul, and eating corned beef at a deli .

Broad City – Ilana and Abbi

Ilana and Abbi are two Jewish girls living in New York, trying to figure out life in their twenties. In fact, Ilana Glazer who portrays Ilana, and Abbi Jacobson who portrays Abbi, are both Jewish comedians and they co-write the show. This show will have you laughing and saying, “This is me!” . One of the most talked about episodes is their flight to Israel on a Birthright trip.

Friends – Ross and Monica

Ross and Monica are one of the most popular television siblings of all time. In a classic episode, The One with the Holiday Armadillo, Ross dresses as an armadillo to teach his son Ben about Hanukkah.

New Girl- Schmidt

Let’s be honest, Schmidt was definitely the highlight of New Girl. Although he is self-absorbed, his humour and quirkiness make him a loveable character. Schmidt is known for expressing his Jewish pride. His conversations always include references to Judaism, such as suggesting the name Mordecai as a baby name, creating a JDate profile, and one liners like “Baruch atah adonice dress!” Max Greenfield who portrays Schmidt is quite open about being Jewish and shared in an interview that the theme for his Bar Mitzvah was Saturday Night Live.

The O.C – Seth Cohen

Who can forget nerdy heartthrob Seth Cohen? He was the memorable Jewish character on The O.C. and coined the phrase “Chrismukkah”- a combined celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah. Adam Brody who portrays Seth was raised in a Jewish family and celebrated the High Holidays and had a Bar Mitzvah.

Here are a few more notable Jewish characters:
Ari Gold- Entourage
Rachel Berry- Glee
Jerry Seinfeld- Seinfeld
Tommy Pickles- The Rugrats
Harry Goldenblatt- Sex in the City
Grace Adler – Will & Grace
Larry David- Curb Your Enthusiasm

As new shows are developed, we hope to see more Jewish characters being reflected in a positive light. Who are your favourite Jewish characters on TV?

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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