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?

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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