If you judge Hollywood by celebrity names, you’d think Jews never made the cut (there’s a bris joke in there somewhere.) For some reason, most of the Jewish sounding Hollywood names belong to gentiles who changed their names to fit in. The gentile-named celebrities are often Jews trying to fit in with the gentiles trying to fit in with the Jews. OY!
Here’s a list of some classic name changes that our friends at JSpace put together of Jews trying to lower their Jewbellish Score:
7. Albert Brooks
Real Name: Albert Einstein
The need for a name change was probably obvious at an early age for this American-born Jew, who would later go on to become a leading comedic actor and stand-up act. Over his long career, Brooks has made a name for himself as favorites of the likes of Johnny Carson and “Saturday Night Live.”
Real Name: Allen Konigsberg
Famed director Woody Allen has become a household name due to such smash hits as “Annie Hall” or more recently, “Blue Jasmine.” Brooklynite Allen, born Konigsberg, has a strong Jewish connection too, as both his parents were second-generation Jewish immigrants.
Real Name: Lawrence Harvey Zeigler
The longtime late-night talk show host is also a Brooklyn native, like his fellow funnyman Woody Allen. King was born in 1933 to Orthodox Jews who had emigrated from Russia.
Real Name: Bernice Frankel
Everyone’s favorite “Golden Girl” was born in New York in May of 1926, the second of three daughters of Jewish parents. As a Jewish child growing up Cambridge, Maryland, Frankel faced anti-Semitism from her peers, according the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Real Name: Natalie Herschlag
Famous for her portrayals of everyone from Anakin Skywalker’s love interest in the “Star Wars” prequels to the neurotic, talented and ultimately doomed prima ballerina in the “Black Swan,”Portman goes by her grandmother’s maiden name. Born in Jerusalem in 1981, Portman is arguably one of the most recognizable Jewish actresses today, something that is both a blessing and a curse. “Like, every Jewish role comes to me,” the actress told Marie-Claire magazine in November.
Real Name: Erich Weisz
The world-famous magician and escape artist was born in 1874, in Budapest, Hungary, although for years he would claim he was born in Wisconsin, where his family later moved. Houdini was one of seven brothers and sisters, and his father was a Jewish rabbi.
Real Name: Chaim Witz
Although he would later found classic 1970s rocker group KISS, Simmons was actually born in 1949 in Haifa, Israel. For most of his childhood, Simmons was raised by his single mother, Flora, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor whose family perished in Nazi concentration camps. Simmons and his mother eventually moved to New York City, where he learned English and began to become interested in the music scene.
Written by Zvi Hershcovich with Mendy Pellin
Drawing: Stephen E Hughes
Inspired by: Frum Satire
Rabbis from around the world gathered in New York for an annual convention. Don’t let their shtetle-look fool you, some of these Rabbis can tweet! Here are some of our favorites from the convention.
Note: To understand some of these tweets, you must know three worlds: Kinus (convention); Chabad (the hasidic sect that these Rabbis belong to); Shluchim (another name to refer to the group of Rabbis who are ‘messengers’ for Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson OBM)
— Mendy Pellin (@MendyTV) November 3, 2013
— Harford Chabad (@HarfordChabad) October 31, 2013
— Benny Hershcovich (@hershky84) October 30, 2013
— Rabbi Chaim (@youngchabad) November 1, 2013
— Rabbi J. Eisenbach (@chabadNW) November 1, 2013
The main reason 4000 Chabad Shluchim fly to New York for the #kinus is to have one Friday a year when they dont need to prepare a sermon.
— Zvi Hershcovich (@cholentface) November 1, 2013
— Shmuli Evers (@Shmuli) November 3, 2013
— Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff (@AggieRabbi) November 3, 2013
— Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff (@AggieRabbi) November 4, 2013
— Benny Hershcovich (@hershky84) November 4, 2013
— SWProductions (@SWP_NY) November 4, 2013
— Mendel Rubin (@shabboshouse) November 3, 2013
— Jewbellish (@jewbellish) November 3, 2013
What if Jews celebrated Halloween? That was the question of a viral Jewbellish image. In that spirit our guest writer has put together a hypothetical code of Jewish law for Halloween.
Add your own laws in the comments below.
by Binyomin Ginzberg
1) No trick or treating until sundown. This year not before 5:54PM in the NY area. Children may trick or treat earlier for Chinuch (educational purposes), but it’s preferable if they wait until the zman.
2) A scary costume is preferable, but b’dieved (2nd choice), one dressed as a princess or a Minion has fulfilled the obligation of dressing up.
3) One who turns off the lights and pretends to be away is called a sinner!
4) Shaving cream used for tricks does not require kosher supervision.
5) If Halloween falls out on Shabbat (like this year), trick or treating within the eruv (a string around the city allowing Jews to carry outdoors on Shabbat) is permissible. If there is no eruv, one still trick or treats, but the custom is to cut a hole in bottom of the plastic jack o’ lantern so the candy goes to waste.
6) To be considered a trick, one must damage property valued at at least one perutah (approx. 5 cents). A trick must also inconvenience the victim by at least 6.7 minutes. In case of emergency, there is a lenient position of 4.8 minutes one may be allowed to rely on. Consult your Halachik authority (your Rabbi).
7) The pumpkin should be placed on the top step, to the right of the door.
It is preferable to use a real pumpkin as a jack o’ lantern. B’dieved (2nd choice), plastic is also acceptable.
9) One does not make a blessing before trick or treating, because it is not certain that the homeowner will be home. (And one may not utter Gd’s name in vain.)
10) When giving candy, one must give an amount at least the size of an olive (about five candy corns.) Some are of the opinion that it has to be at least the size of an egg (twelve candy corns.) This opinion is preferable.
11) When egging cars, one should be careful not to drop any eggs prior to throwing them. Remember, Ba’al Tashchis (the sin of wasting)!
12) Not Tznius (immodest) witch costumes, only at home with one’s husband.