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?

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Last month Hillel Ontario heard from Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada. After winning the leadership race back in October of 2020, Annamie became the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal Canadian political party. Since then, she has been speaking to Canadians all across the country, spreading messages of hope and inspiration, during a time where these moments are a rarity. No matter the political orientation of the Zoom attendees of this fireside chat, everyone walked away with a few life lessons up their sleeve.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways. First, Annamie spoke about following your passion, a message that I know many students needed to hear. When I graduated from grade 12, I was constantly asked where I saw myself in five years, ten years, and sometimes even twenty years. Although I was asked with the best intentions, I’ve always felt overwhelming pressure to envision a clear career path. Annamie dispelled this myth by referencing the enjoyment associated with the process of discovering your passion rather than having a final goal in mind, and Annamie’s enthusiasm for human rights through a policy lens has shaped the course of her life. Second, Annamie spoke about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice. Whether you consider yourself an advocate or not, Annamie highlighted the need to follow your moral compass, never remaining complicit. Following Annamie’s time as the leader of the Green Party, it is clear that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and position to shine light on racism, antisemitism, and sexism. These are two lessons I think everyone can learn from.

Annamie spoke about growing up in Toronto Centre (the riding where she will be running in the next federal election), her career as an international lawyer, and her decision to enter politics. As someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician, Annamie referenced about the challenges that she’s faced as a Black, Jewish woman. Racism, antisemitism, and sexism were all constant throughout her leadership campaign, and her six months leading the Green Party. 

Throughout Annamie’s talk, I learned about the importance of elevating voices that have previously gone unheard. In a predominantly white space, Hillel students and staff need to work hard to ensure that Jews of Colour feel welcomed. 

After 45 minutes, the latter half of which consisted of an insightful Q&A, Annamie mentioned that she would love to be invited back to another Hillel Ontario fireside chat. For now, I’ll take Annamie’s lessons with me while looking forward to hearing about all of her accomplishments in a year from now.

  • Skylar Banks, Guelph Hillel
Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

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