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Ambiguously Jewish
"I wish I was Jewish. I'm not Jewish, but my wife and my children are Jewish, so that would clear up a lot of identity issues."
Jeff Tweedy from Wilco

A character who fits "Jewish" stereotypes, possibly played by an actor who is Jewish in real life, but who is never (or cryptically) actually stated to be a Jew on the show. In some cases, the show might present contradictory evidence on both sides. Often this is because it's difficult to establish a character as Jewish without depicting them as a walking stereotype, particularly when there's no omniscient narrator to simply say so or when they don't fit the stereotype.

Note that having Yiddish as a Second Language is a clue but is not conclusive. As Lenny Bruce said, all New Yorkers are at least a little Jewish. Having a "Jewish" name ending in -berg, -stein or the like is also evidence but not proof. These names are actually just German names that many Ashkenazi Jews took when required to adopt some type of surname. Authentically Hebrew names will often begin with "Bar" or "Ben," so they're a good tip-off. For Sephardic Jews, a common name is "Garcia", but again that is such a common Hispanic name that by itself it doesn't prove anything.

If the series is set in New York City or its equivalent, expect a lot of these. About 12% of New Yorkers are Ashkenazi Jews and they've had a great deal of impact on the culture, which is part of the reason why You Have to Have Jews.

This is the exact opposite of Informed Judaism, which is when a Jewish character's faith is plainly stated, usually as an afterthought, but never really exhibited by their thoughts or actions and has no relevance in the plot.

Also pay attention that having a 'Jewish-sounding name' is not enough, especially if the character in question shows no other traits that could hint at his cultural heritage, or, even worse, is almost blatantly a member of a different culture. Many if not most Ashkenazi Jews bear typical German and Austrian last names. Like, you know, actual Germans, Austrians and many Scandinavians with absolutely no Semitic background.

If such a character is non-human or at least not from Earth, that's Space Jews.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Spike Spiegel on Cowboy Bebop is considered Jewish by some fans because he has a Yiddish family name, a stereotypically (in the US, anyway) Jewish haircut, and carries an Israeli-made Jericho 941 pistol. Obviously he's not played by a Jewish actor since he's an animated character, but while his Japanese voice actor obviously isn't Jewish, his American voice-actor is. When asked, the series creators said he was modeled after actor Yusaku Matsuda, and they just thought the name sounded cool.
  • The Gundam metaseries has a few characters with Jewish-sounding names (which might merely be German names) whose background is never really elaborated on. Notable examples include 0080's Bernie Wiseman, 0083's Deitrov Kosel and Anavel Gato, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam's Jamitov Hyman, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED's Seigal Klein. What's particularly strange about these examples is that all of them, with the possible exception of Klein, come from factions that had an unfortunate tendency toward Putting on the Reich. Sure, it's a political divide, not ethnic, but it's still odd to see possibly-Ambiguously Jewish characters goose-stepping.
    • In some circles of Gundam fandom, hero Amuro Ray and Captain Bright Noa may or may not be Jewish. It doesn't help anything that Amuro looks like a Jewish Lesbian woman in Chars Counterattack.
    • Speaking of Gundam, presumably Louise Halevy of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Jewish ancestry, as Halévy (from ha-Levi, "Levite") is a generally Sephardic Jewish surname and Louise's family is from Spain.
    • The Kleins were confirmed by Word of God as being from Scandinavia, possibly related to royalty or nobility. However, they ironically go in a different direction than most of the examples because their own faction (the coordinators) is treated with about the same respect as WWII-era Jews by the naturals.
  • Code Geass: Ohgi. His hair, held back by a hairband, looks vaguely afro-ish, but it was that random Star of David on his uniform that earned him the name Jewgi.
    • Ohgi says "Never Again" in response to Nunnaly announcing her plan to revive the Specially Administrated Zone of Japan. The ramifications of which clearly compare The princess Massacre to the Holocaust.
    • Nina Einstein takes this trope Up to Eleven. Just look at her last name.
  • McCoy from Area 88 has a large nose, olive-toned skin, and cares only about money, thereby fitting the stereotype. The only thing off about it is his name, which is Scottish.
  • Some characters from Baccano! likely qualify as well, especially some of the Immortals, most notably Czeslaw Meyer.
  • Some fans like to portray Levi from Attack on Titan as Jewish, both because of the name and because of some of his physical features.

     Comic Books  

  • Ben Grimm, the Thing in the Fantastic Four, was created by Jews, has a Jewish name (Benjamin Jacob), resembles the Golem legend, and grew up in a Yancy Street neighborhood resembling New York's Lower East Side. Grimm was finally confirmed as Jewish in 2002, 41 years after his first appearance. This ended with an immortal "You don't look Jewish..." That story explains that he'd been hiding as many signs of his Jewishness as he could ever since the accident, due to his monstrous form, not wanting his monstrousness to be anti-semitism fuel.
  • The character of Moon Knight, aka Marc Spector, was retroactively made Jewish several years after his debut when his creators were informed that 'Spector' was a Jewish name. They originally chose it because of the character's ghostly appearance, his temporary death in his origin story, and Rule of Cool.
  • Superman, prior to the Byrne reboot in 1986 (which got rid of some of these elements), is a classic example: his origin story is a modern take on Moses (his people faced terrible destruction, and his parents cast him adrift hoping to spare him; Kandor represents the people he came back to save and take to the promised land); his cultural heritage, which he took great pride in, was a distinctly non-Christian monotheism with an emphasis on intellectual achievement; and his Kryptonian name, "Kal-El," has an ending meaning "God," common in Jewish names such as Nathaniel and Israel. (In fact, in Hebrew, "Kal-El" could translate as either "All [that is under] God," as in, "One Nation, Under God," the American Way; or "The Voice of God," as in, Prophecy, Truth, and Justice.) Superman was created by two Jews, Siegel and Schuster in the late 1930s, and given a name which is a rough translation of the German word "Übermensch." The Nazis were fond of this concept, as well; a black-haired Ubermensch who fights for "truth, justice, and the American way" might well have been a Take That, or at least some catharsis, for the creators. In one Golden Age what-if story, Supes even delivered a "distinctly non-Aryan sock to the jaw for you, Adolf!" (Compare and contrast to Captain America, the blonde, blue-eyed Nazi's worst nightmare.)
  • Elliot S! Maggin stated that he saw Lex Luthor as Jewish, and has the character use some Yiddish as a Second Language in his novel Last Son of Krypton. It should be noted that A) this was Silver Age Luthor, who was not a Corrupt Corporate Executive whose primary trait is greed, B) Maggin is Jewish, and C) Maggin is very, very fond of Luthor.
  • Some suspect Ultimate Spider-Man is Jewish, mostly because he has Yiddish as a Second Language and dated Kitty Pryde, Marvel's Jewish poster girl. He's modeled after Stan Lee, who is Jewish, but it's probably just the Big Applesauce effect.
  • Batman. His maternal grandfather is Jewish, which is why his mother has a Jewish last name, Kane. Because her mother wasn't Jewish, however, she would not have been considered Jewish. The name is probably a Shout-Out to Bob Kane, co-creator of Batman, who was Jewish. Current Batwoman and distant-relative Kate Kane, however, actually is Jewish.
  • Batman's enemy The Penguin started out vaguely Jewish-y and has only gotten more and more so over the course of several decades and across multiple media. Aside from the obvious clues, long nose, short stature, and pot belly (all stereotypical Jewish traits in old cartoons); and his fondness for stealing priceless works of art, he also had an archetypal Jewish Mother who made him carry around an umbrella at all times to shield himself from the sun, causing him to be bullied at school and sending him inexorably down the road to villainy. More Jewish traits were suggested in the 1992 film Batman Returns, with the Penguin's parents played by Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger (both actors with Jewish ancestry, although their characters have a tree at Christmas and are buried in a Christian cemetery, but they could have converted) and the Penguin himself portrayed by Danny DeVito with pale makeup, an even longer nose, and long, wavy dark hair reminiscent of that seen on Hasidic Jews, plus a costume that makes him look a lot like Fagin (the Jewish gang leader from Oliver Twist) and a fondness for eating herrings. Soon afterward, the portrayal of the Penguin on Batman: The Animated Series included the name, long nose, shortness, pot belly, umbrella, long dark hair, and love of eating fish and added to that a suggestion in one episode ("Birds of a Feather") that the Penguin aspires to join high society but is viewed with contempt by all, even by the rich young WASP woman who dates him, and certainly by her Upper-Class Twit friend, who tells her that Oswald is "not our kind." (Of course, since in the animated series the Penguin has flippers instead of hands and literally eats his fish like an aquatic mammal, this could just be Fantastic Racism.)
  • From Watchmen, Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl), Jonathan Osterman (Dr. Manhattan), and Rorschach, son of Sylvia Glick, and Sally Jupiter (the original Silk Spectre), who changed her last name to hide Polish ancestry. Given Alan Moore's interest in the history of the comic-book medium and the history of superheroes, it is not hard to imagine that he might have made many of his superheroes Ambiguously Jewish as a deliberate allusion to the ethnic background of so many of the creators of the superhero-comic form.
  • Shilo Norman was shown consulting a rabbi in the 2006 Grant Morrison-written Mister Miracle miniseries. This background makes him perhaps the only comic superhero who is both black and Jewish. It might also be noted that Norman has escaped death after dying, much like another Jewish celebrity.
  • Word of God said that Wiccan of the Young Avengers was Jewish long before this was mentioned in passing in the actual comics. Given that his real name is Billy Kaplan, it's not exactly a surprise.
  • X-Men Big Bad Magneto (real name Max Eisenhardt but known by an assumed name of Erik Lehnsherr) has occasionally had his ancestry cast in doubt like this. It's a well-established part of his backstory that he was in a Nazi concentration camp, but other groups were placed in those as well. Briefly, Marvel claimed he was a Gypsy or just avoided mention of his ethnicity for a while out of fear of being called anti-Semitic (having him be a Roma was apparently completely okay), but it was eventually confirmed that he's Jewish.
  • The character of G.B. Blackrock from the Generation One Transformers comic published by Marvel Comics. Blackrock sounds like an Anglicization of Schwarzstein, and creator Bob Budiansky said he based the character's name off that of his friend Gary Bennett Schwartz; both Budiansky and Schwartz are Jewish. Nevertheless, Blackrock's religious or ethnic background is never referred to explicitly in the comic. Also, there was an amusing incident during the scraplet outbreak wherein Goldbug (an alternate name for Bumblebee) telephoned Blackrock for help; Blackrock's secretary mispronounced Goldbug as Goldberg.
  • The entire Fritsche family in Supurbia. In issue five, we meet the parents of Nightfox, a.k.a. Paul Fritsche: Asher and Stella Fritsche. Asher is a Hebrew name from the Bible, and one that is very uncommon among non-Jews. Stella, likewise, is a very common Anglicization of Esther. Fritsche is a German name, but it obviously could be a Jewish name also, especially in the United States. On the other hand, their characterization is very stereotypically WASPy. Also, Paul's estranged wife, Alexis, seems to be getting involved with a business associate named Jake Weintraub, a name which is very Jewish.
    • The Metzger family is another interesting case. Metzger, again, is a German last name, but one that could be Jewish, especially in the United States. The father's name is Jeremy, while the two children are named Eli and Sara. All three names are of Hebrew/Biblical origin. That being said, the mother, Batu, is a princess of a tribe of Central Asian Amazons, so the children would not be Jewish (by Jewish law, at least) even if the father is.

    Film 

  • Maury Ballstein of Zoolander.
  • Miracle Max and his wife in The Princess Bride. This was somewhat lampshaded in the book. Billy Crystal, who played Max, once referred to the pair as "little Jewish trolls."
  • Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane. Particularly suspicious is a brief scene in which Charles's overly WASPy first wife, Emily Norton, admits that she doesn't feel comfortable having Mr. Bernstein around, although she won't say why. Mr. Bernstein was played by a Jewish actor, Everett Sloane.
  • It's hard not to suspect that Jake Gittes, the Anti-Hero portrayed by Jack Nicholson in Chinatown and The Two Jakes, is a closeted Jew, given hints here and there in both films. Not only is his nose famously targeted by a knife-wielding thug, but his last name sounds like it could be Ashkenazi (and on two occasions the Big Bad in Chinatown mispronounces the surname "Gitz", making it sound even more Ashkenazi) and his dark hair and eyes distinguish him from most of the Caucasian population of Los Angeles in the 1930s and '40s (which was famously of fair-haired Midwestern stock before more "ethnic" whites began arriving after World War II). There's more: When Jake investigates the retirement home, he asks the owner if they "accept people of the Jewish persuasion" (they don't); while this question is part of his cover story of possibly sending his father (supposedly a Racist Grandpa who won't abide being put up in a home with non-Aryans) to live in the home, it's still strange that he would bring up the subject when he didn't absolutely have to. In The Two Jakes, Jake (Gittes, that is) complains to Jake Berman (Harvey Keitel) that Lou Escobar, his old partner on the police force, has been denied a home loan in a neighborhood for which Berman is a realtor due to his Mexican descent. While this could simply be a case of sticking up for an old colleague, it's hard not to shake the suspicion that Gittes is thinking he wouldn't be welcome in that neighborhood either - which only becomes more likely when Berman, who is explicitly stated to be Jewish, says that he couldn't sell a home to himself, or to anyone in his family, in that same neighborhood.
  • Pretty much everyone in Wet Hot American Summer: it takes place at a Jewish summer camp, but this is mentioned so little that viewers could easily miss it. Listen to the names Janeane Garofalo calls out in the cafeteria for the "early bus to Boston" (they're all incredibly stereotypical Jewish names, and include "David Ben Gurion").
  • Egon Spengler and Janine Melnitz of Ghostbusters have very Jewish-sounding names, but their ethnicities have never been mentioned. Harold Ramis, a Jew, jokes about his hair in the film being a "Jewfro." In case you wonder, Oswald Spengler, the philosopher who inspired Egon's surname, was non-Jewish.
  • Lots of characters in Mel Brooks' movies (not counting the ones who are explicitly Jewish). Not a surprise, as Brooks is proudly Jewish himself and loves referencing Jewish/Yiddish culture.
  • Eduard Abramowitz, a.k.a. Eisenheim, the titular illusionist of The Illusionist. Not only is Abramowitz a Jewish surname, but, well, he's a stage magician in early twentieth century Vienna.
  • The Three Stooges (Jews in real life) drop a lot of Yiddish phrases in their dialogues, and break out into Klezmer-style dancing when one of them injures his foot. The characters' actual ethnicity, however, is never mentioned.
  • Played for Laughs in Superman II. When Superman saves a boy who was about to plummet into the Niagara Falls, a stereotypical old Brooklyn lady exclaims: "What a nice man! Of course he's Jewish!"
  • The film version of The Devil Wears Prada is an interesting case. In the book both protagonist Andrea Sachs and the eponymous devil Miranda Priestly are explicitly Jewish, and this is somewhat significant for both characters. In the movie, however, this is never mentioned, or even really hinted at much.
  • Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds is an interesting case. He's placed in charge of a unit of commandos who are all Jewish, but we never learn if he's Jewish himself. Nothing about his name or personality suggests that he's Jewish, but he does seem to have a personal hatred for Nazis that goes beyond simple enemies of war. Word of God says his hatred of Nazis has to do with his years fighting The Klan (who, ironically, were despised by the Nazis despite their common anti-Semitism). The scar on his neck was likely from a lynching. Whether this is because he's Jewish, part-Native American, or some other reason is unknown.
  • Dr. King Schultz from Django Unchained is a German immigrant in the mid-19th century, when the first Jews came to America from Germany with the stereotypically Jewish profession of dentist. He clearly has a strong German identity due to his fascination with German folklore, but Jews were much more assimilated in Germany than any other European country (prior to Hitler, of course).
  • Cher from Clueless lives in Beverly Hills, has the last name Horowitz, and has a New York-accented litigator for a father, yet no explicit mention is made of her Jewishness. Incidentally, the actress who plays Cher and the actor who played her father are both Jewish.
  • Played with in Friends with Benefits with Jaime: her mother, not knowing who Jaime's father is, refers to her as looking ambiguously Middle Eastern. Jamie later claims that with Photoshop, her nose gets "way more Christian." Mila Kunis, who plays her, is Jewish.
  • In addition to exaggerating the Penguin's already Jewish-like traits as described above, screenwriter Daniel Waters gave Max Shreck, the Corrupt Corporate Executive and tertiary villain of Batman Returns, some Ambiguously Jewish characteristics (most notably a few Yiddish expressions slipped into the script, including goniffs ("thieves"), although these were dropped in the actual film. Max's portrayer, Christopher Walken, is actually a Methodist of mixed British and German descent, although he is a native New Yorker and reportedly knows some Yiddish (and said that he based his characterization of Max on Meyer Wolfsheim, the Jewish gambler in The Great Gatsby, even asking director Tim Burton for a pair of cuff links made from human molars, as an actor playing Wolfsheim wore in one of the Gatsby film adaptations). Andrew Bryniarski, who played Max's son Chip in that movie, is of Russian descent, so he could easily be Jewish. The novelization, however, mentions that their family celebrates Christmas.
  • The two backpackers in An American Werewolf in London have Jewish names and come from New York. A nurse says that she thinks one of them is Jewish because he's circumcised, but another nurse counters that lots of gentiles are circumcised these days. It's never confirmed one way or the other. David's nightmare, in which Nazi soldiers with pig's heads slaughter his family, is also suggestive - the three menorahs over the fireplace would appear to be conclusive. Word of God from the film's Jewish director in the DVD commentary for this scene suggests this scene was based on his own childhood nightmares, and confirms that David is intended to be Jewish.
  • In Hollywood Sins, top Hollywood agent Donna Silverstein is played by Kim Dawson (a blue eyed blonde who speaks with a Southern accent).
  • The main character of Amen, SS Lieutenant Kurt Gerstein, suspects that his housekeeper Mrs Hinze may be Jewish, but keeps quiet about it. Also, Father Ricardo Fontana, who is portrayed by half-Jewish Mathieu Kassovitz, is implied to be from a family of converts.

    Literature 
  • Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky, the first novel in the larger Empire Trilogy, has as one of its main protagonists the retired tailor Joseph Schwartz. Not only did most of its readers assume that Schwartz was Jewish, based on his name and Asimov's own Jewish ancestry, but apparently so did almost all the reviewers and industry professionals. When this was finally mentioned to Asimov himself, he said that he never ascribed any particular faith to Schwartz when he was writing the story, and the novel itself actually gives no specific mention of any religion.
  • It was noted in a recent Guardian review of the original novel Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day that ironically, given the title character's racism and anti-Semitism (emblematic of the time period and which the author seems to endorse), her eventual romance is with a character named Joseph Blomfield.
  • The Corrupt Corporate Executive Melmotte in The Way We Live Now is a Fauxreigner who has likely altered his name to sound French. His wife is explicitly Jewish, and his name could be interpreted as a clever adaptation of the Jewish name Malamud, and there is a lot of prejudice by the author and characters which relies on the assumption that he is Jewish. David Suchet, who played him in the Masterpiece Theatre series, has Jewish ancestry. On the other hand, the author's notes during writing peg him at one point as an Irish-American originally named Malmedy. So, Melmotte's background basically depends on what Anthony Trollope was thinking about at any given point while writing.
  • The Baudelaire orphans of A Series of Unfortunate Events are Jewish, according to this interview by Daniel Handler. Count Olaf uses expressions like "Truth, Schmuth", and has on at least one occasion disguised himself as a rabbi.
  • Sherlock Holmes
    • Irene Adler, from the story "A Scandal in Bohemia," and many other Holmes stories by writers other than Doyle. Certainly, her name sounds Jewish, and it has been theorized that she was inspired, at least in part, by Sarah Bernhardt.
    • Sherlock Holmes himself sometimes gets hit with this, as his physical appearance contains two stereotypically "Jewish" features—black hair and a large hawk-like nose. There is actually an essay that theorizes the possibility of Holmes having Jewish ancestry, and author Shane Peacock's Young Adult series, The Boy Sherlock Holmes, portrays the young Sherlock as a boy of Anglo-Jewish descent (the product of an English woman and Jewish man).
  • Some have interpreted Black Michael of The Prisoner of Zenda as being Jewish/having a Jewish mother. In the novel, Black Michael cannot legitimately take the throne because he's the product of a Morganatic marriage, but adaptations have presented him as a Bastard Bastard and placed more emphasis on a lack of royal ancestry on his mother's side, leading to the assumption that she must have been of a different religion than that of Ruritania's Catholic monarchy, and the further assumption that this meant she was Jewish. Besides all of the assumptions this requires, it seems unlikely, since if he was intended as Jewish, the book would have called attention to it, and Black Michael is supposed to be beloved by the religious, Slavic peasants of Ruritania, a somewhat unlikely feat if he was Jewish.
  • Francine in the Arthur books. She's Jewish in the cartoon, though it's most likely a retcon, but in the source books she seems to celebrate Christmas.
  • Many have interpreted Ebeneezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol as an anti-Semitic caricature, being that he's an exceptionally stingy moneylender with a Hebrew name. However, the whole point of the story is getting Scrooge to appreciate Christmas, something he has resisted due to his personality rather than any religious opposition. Hebrew names were also not uncommon among Gentiles during Dickens' time, and the inspiration was a tombstone that Dickens saw as a child, not an attempt to make the character sound Jewish. Nevertheless, several adaptations have run with this, including A Muppets Christmas Carol.
  • A minor character in Harry Potter is Anthony Goldstein.

     Live Action TV  
  • George and the rest of the Costanza family on Seinfeld. On the one hand, they have an Italian last name (though it could be Sephardic), Frank is allegedly a member of the Knights of Columbus, and why would they need Festivus as a Christmas alternative if they could have just celebrated Hanukkah instead? Frank also sold statues of Jesus to Koreans. On the other hand, they are all played by Jewish actors and George is the avatar of co-creator Larry David, who is also Jewish. Jason Alexander said he wasn't sure what ethnicity George was meant to have until Estelle Harris was cast as his mother, saying "She can't be anything but Jewish." Wikipedia says that they are a Jewish-Italian mixed marriage, but this is clearly just a retcon, as David admitted that they didn't really think about any of this, just choosing names that they liked for the characters and casting the best actors and actresses available. And Jerry Stiller, who portrayed Frank, once remarked "I think we're a Jewish family living under the Witness Protection Program as Italians"
  • Paul Buchman and his relatives on Mad About You. Casting Mel Brooks as Paul's Uncle Phil was a heck of a clue, though. There was even ambiguity for Jamie Buchman. The closing tag to one episode showed her telling Paul that she had relatives in Israel. When he looks doubtful, she says "Don't assume." Helen Hunt is actually one-quarter Jewish.
  • Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show was originally one of these... until they eliminated all doubt by having an episode about his Bar Mitzvah. Also a very early example of Very Special Episode.
  • At least some people think that Jerry And Millie (especially Millie) were supposed to be Jewish.
  • Brodie on Homicide: Life on the Street was never confirmed Jewish, but in the episode "Kaddish", which focuses heavily on the religion of Jewish cop John Munch, he knows a great deal about Jewish burial rites. Ironically, a peeved Munch had once said of Brodie that he knew what the "JH" stood for, with the implied answer being "Jew hater."
  • Kipp Steadman on Less Than Perfect. He'd occasionally use "shalom" as a greeting. Also, at one point, the main character threatened to tell his boss that he doesn't go the synagogue on Friday evenings, to which he responded with "Oy vey".
  • Fox Mulder of The X-Files. David Duchovny, himself descended from Russian Jews, said early in the show that he would "assume Mulder is Jewish until told otherwise." Not all the show's writers agreed. The evidence for and against includes:
    • In the episode "Kaddish", Mulder can understand a few words of spoken Hebrew, but can't read any. He doesn't otherwise show much familiarity with the traditions of the very orthodox Jewish community they're investigating. ("Kaddish" was written by Howard Gordon, who is Jewish himself but had long insisted that Mulder wasn't.)
    • In both "Kaddish" and "Drive," antisemites accuse Mulder of looking Jewish. He refuses to answer both times.
    • In "Conduit," also by Howard Gordon, Mulder is seen sitting alone in a Christian church, apparently having gone there for comfort when he was upset, although he's agnostic and usually vaguely cynical about organized religion.
    • In "The Blessing Way," Mulder's father has a Christian funeral. There's also an episode where we can see a box of Christmas decorations in the garage of Mulder's mom's house, although some Jews do celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. When Mulder was a child they lived in Martha's Vineyard, an extremely WASPy part of New England.
    • Both Mulder and Kuipers (his mom's maiden name) are usually Dutch/Afrikaner surnames ("Miller" is the rough English equivalent of Mulder). His mother's first name is Teena, which is usually short for Christina and would be a fairly weird name for a Jewish woman of her generation.
  • Most of the characters of Salute Your Shorts had "Jewish" last names (Stein, Ziff, Gelfen, Pinsky, etc.). None of them were directly stated to be Jews, but it was mentioned in one episode that if Budnick and Dina had a child, it would have a Bar Mitzvah. Dina also fits the stereotype of a JAP (Jewish-American Princess), so they are not ambiguous. There used to be an actual Camp Anawana on the site of (and operated by) Borscht Belt resort Kutsher's, which would cater mostly to Jewish clients.
  • If his wedding is any indication, Lord Zedd, one of the Big Bads of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Of course, that could just be the Jewish writer Haim Saban writing the ceremony he knows. Also, see "I'm Dreaming of a White Ranger", when he tries to usurp Christmas with spinning tops.
  • NUMB3RS: The Eppes family were ambiguously Jewish for the first two seasons. They clearly weren't observant at all, but the actors who play Don, Charlie, and Alan (Rob Morrow, David Krumholtz, and Judd Hirsch) are all Jewish. In season 3, it was established that they are in fact nonobservant Jews.
  • Matt Parkman on Heroes is Jewish according to actor Greg Grunberg (who is also Jewish). The only "hints" of his religion on the show was when he said "Mazel tov" to HRG.
  • In Plain Sight on USA has a character, Robert "Bobby D" Dershowitz. The name would give it away, except that he's black. The ambiguity is gone now (for those of us who realized Dershowitz was a Jewish last name) as he has now moved to Chicago where he's settling in well because there are so many more synagogues than in Albuquerque, where the show is set.
  • Hank and Evan Lawson from Royal Pains. Winkler showed up as their father Eddie.
    • It's official now. In the episode "Keeping the Faith", Hank's patient mentions needing a "new Faith" (he's referring to his sister/manager, who will no longer be working for him). Evan suggests Judaism as, "we could use a big guy on our side".**
  • Kenny in The War At Home seems to be Ambiguously Jewish, since his mother has a Hebrew name ("Shirra") and the music that plays during his fantasy of marrying Larry sounds Jewish-theme. Then again, he could also qualify as an "Ambiguously Muslim" since his father's name "Achmed" is a common Muslim name. If so, Kenny was kicked out of the house because homosexuality isn't allowed in the Muslim world and Shirra also had to follow her husband because of the rules (which was rather exaggerated).
    • Then again, Kenny's parents might be inter-faith married.
  • Lorne from Angel often displays Jewish mannerisms and diction; e.g, calling Angel "Bubeleh" and telling an assistant to "eat a bagel; you look a little waxy."
    • Though he's a green-skinned demon from another dimension....
  • Jack Gallo on Just Shoot Me! acts, talks, and looks just like a stereotypical New York Jew from the Bronx (this is because his actor, George Segal, is a New York Jew from the Bronx.) Yet to avoid Unfortunate Implications, he's revealed to have a Jewish Mother, but he wasn't raised religiously. Finch even lampshades this telling Maya about his WASPiness (paraphrased):
    Look, you and Jack may be Jewish, Italian, or whatever you've got going on. But I'm a WASP from Upstate. We didn't talk about these things.
  • When Law & Order started airing in Israel, many thought that Sam Waterston was Jewish (Waterston->Waterstone->Wasserstein, etcetera). Despite over a decade to get wiser, people haven't. Woody Allen may be partly responsible, as he cast Waterston as a rabbi in Crimes and Misdemeanors.
    • Hilarious since the actor Steven Hill (playing Schiff) is actually an Orthodox Jew — he had a "no work on Sabbath" clause in his contract.
  • Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night has a very Jewish name (Isaac is from the Biblical patriarch, and the last name Jaffe comes from the Hebrew word for beautiful), and frequently uses Yiddish expressions. On the other hand, everyone who knows him insists that his use of Yiddish expressions doesn't work for him, which is probably connected to the fact that he is black, suggesting that if he is Jewish, his background is not Ashkenazic. His wife also has a Jewish name, Esther. On the other hand, in the episode "April is the Cruelest Month," Will tells Jeremy that the two of them, plus Elliot and Will "pretty much represent the Jewish population around here," which implies, but does not state outright that Isaac is not Jewish.
  • Pavel Chekov on Star Trek: The Original Series, portrayed by Jewish actors Walter Koenig in the original series and Anton Yelchin in the reboot, has some fandom support for this. Leonard Nimoy, also Jewish, adapted the famous Vulcan hand salute from Jewish religious tradition, making the Vulcans a positive example of Space Jews. William Shatner is also Jewish, but Kirk doesn't seem to get this quite as often from the fandom.
  • The Muppets:
    • Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, since he's a cousin to Moisha the Oofnik, an Israeli-Jewish Grouch. Also Count Von Count... no one really knows why someone would make vampire seem Jewish, but they did.
      • When the Count performs the song "Hands" on a Sesame Street children's record, the music in the background sounds like something right out of Fiddler on the Roof.
      • "The Song of the Count" also has a distinct klezmer style to it.
      • It's becase most Count's songs are based on csárdás, a traditional Hungarian dance that is usually associated with the Balkans, in the way of Transylvania, in the way of vampires. Count himself has also rather thick Uberwaldian accent, and a bit of comedic aristocratic manners.
    • Fozzie Bear from The Muppet Show. Frank Oz, who is himself of Jewish ancestry, performed him as a callback to the Borscht Belt vaudevillians of old; as a result Fozzie has done gags like pulling a rabbi out of a hat.
    • Another Muppet Show character, Wanda, has the high, shrieky, lower-class New Yorker accent that is often associated with Jewish women.
    • Marjorie the Trash Heap on Fraggle Rock.
  • Miranda Feigelstein in Mysterious Ways is an in-universe example: early in the first season, Declan says that he assumed she was Jewish because of her last name. She replies that she's not Jewish and her name is pronounced FeigelSTEEN, and gets upset at how little he seems to know about her.
  • In "Dead Luck," an episode of Lost Girl, Mayer and his family come across as stereotypical Jewish gangsters, although, being that they are fae, this is presumably just an affectation for them.
  • Roseanne from Roseanne, despite mostly being depicted as a typical mid-western WASP, dropped clues that she had some Jewish heritage through the series. This was eventually confirmed in an episode where D.J. asked about the religious practices of the family. Rosanne Barr, of course, is Jewish.
  • In Homeland, Nicholas Brody and his family have a Jewish last name, but no other obvious markers of any kind of Jewish background. Whatever Brody's religious upbringing, a key plot point is that he has since secretly converted to Islam. Interestingly, the show is an adaptation of an Israeli TV series Hatuphim, in which the family's last name is not Brody. In any case, episode four shows the family in church, so apparently it was just a name, nothing more.
    • But then in season three we find out that Jessica Brody's maiden name was Lazaro, which is a very (Sephardic) Jewish last name. Jessica is also a Jewish name, so the theory seems to have gotten a new lease on life.
  • In an episode of Fringe, Walter mentions that William Bell's father taught him Yiddish (and proceeds to speak it later in the episode). Bell is played by Leonard Nimoy, who is Jewish, and profession-wise Bell is a scientist, academic, and business magnate who lived in New York City, which pretty much hits the nail right on the head.
  • In Friends Rachel Green is implied, but never stated, to be Jewish; in one episode, she refers to her grandmother with the Yiddish term "bubbe."
  • Artie Nielsen, born Arthur Weisfelt, of Warehouse 13 has numerous hints dropped through the first two seasons, but is placed firmly in this category by the Christmas episode (where the credits paired his name with a dreidel) of Season 2 which reunites him with his father, played by Judd Hirsch. As a sort of retro lampshade to this sudden Judaism, his de facto daughter, Claudia, when invited to say grace at the (gentile) Christmas dinner table, intones "Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech...", although she is rapidly put right by the two older gentlemen.
  • In at least one episode Starsky has a Star of David on his dashboard and a menorah in his apartment. (Paul Michael Glaser is Jewish in real life.)
  • Though it's never mentioned, both Niles and Daphne's failed spouses on Frasier, Mel and Donnie, who play a large role in season 7, appear to be Jewish. Both are played by Jewish actors who have a stereotypically Jewish "look" (the actor who played Donnie, Saul Rubinek, has played Henry Kissinger in the past) Mel's last name is "Karnofsky," and both have high-paying, elite jobs often stereotyped with Jews (surgeon and lawyer). Since the Cranes are portrayed as quite irreligious, and since the show has come under fire for its lack of cast diversity, it's possible the ambiguity was an intentional effort to add some non-consequential multiculturalism.
  • Many of the Crawleys on Downton Abbey, incredibly enough. When we meet Cora's mother at the beginning of season three, she turns out to have the very Jewish last name of Levinson. That would suggest that, by Jewish standards at least, Cora and her three daughters are also all Jewish as well. Given the unlikelihood of an English earl of Robert Crawley's time ever even considering such a match, and the fact that Mrs. Levinson's last name is never remarked upon within the show, it seems quite possible that the writers simply picked a name at random from an American telephone directory without grasping the implications of the one they chose.
    • Word of God says Cora's father was Jewish but her mother was not, so Cora and her brother were raised Episcopalian.
  • A Catholic version with the Wizards of Waverly Place. There are St. Gabriel candles in the lair, and Max mentions that they go to church in the Werewolf special. Considering they're Hispanic/Italian that might be likely.
  • Blair Sandburg in The Sentinel. He says his Swiss Army knife was a Bar Mitzvah present, but he is seen wearing a cross around his neck and he goes on retreat in a community of Christian monks.
  • Elsbeth Tascioni, a recurring character in The Good Wife, does not seem Jewish at all, but is the victim of an antisemitic slur in one episode, "A Few Words."
    • Also, ADA Matan Brody has a very Jewish name, but we otherwise know little about the character.
  • Inverted in Glee, with the character of Rachel Berry, who identifies as Jewish, even though her mother's identity is at first unknown, and, when revealed, turns out to have the very non-Jewish name of Shelby Corcoran, suggesting that, by Jewish law, Rachel is not Jewish. It is worth noting, however, that the actress who plays Shelby, Idina Menzel, is Jewish, although the actress who plays Rachel, Lea Michele, is not Jewish, despite having Jewish ancestry.
  • Pretty much the entire cast of Kings, since it is a retelling of the story of King Saul and King David. At one point, Samuel quotes directly from the Talmud, Berakhot 57B, when he says "Dreams are one-sixtieth of prophecy." The only reason there's any ambiguity at all is that the specific religious beliefs or practices of the characters are never explored in detail, and because Samuel has the title of "Reverend."

     New Media 
  • I Love Bees has a whole planet of ambiguous Jews. There are religious dietary restrictions and Jewish Mother stereotypes, but the characters have names like Zaman and could conceivably be Muslim.

    Theater 

  • Death of a Salesman has been seriously analyzed for decades (NY Times article) on the subject of whether the Lomans were Jewish. Arthur Miller was brought up Jewish and based the character of Willy Loman on his uncle who was a salesman in the Depression. Miller stated in a 1969 interview that Willy Loman's religious or cultural background seemed irrelevant, but acknowledged in the 50th anniversary edition of the play that the Lomans could have been assimilated Jews. Loman lacks any identifying features of a Jewish (or any other) background, but this can be interpreted both ways; either Willy Loman was written without religious or cultural background to act as The Everyman and represent the broader American experience, or else his conspicuous lack of these features is a sign of how he abandoned an immigrant past in his drive for the American Dream.
  • The Hollanders from Don't Drink The Water. Woody Allen wrote this one and actually played Walter Hollander in the second movie version.
  • Dolly Levi of Thorton Wilder's The Matchmaker and Hello, Dolly! is an interesting case, as she is played by Barbra Streisand in the film, and the character in the play is presumably Irish-American (her maiden name is Gallagher) and intermarried, but in both cases speaks with a "Yiddish" rhythm and is a good fit for the stereotypical matchmaker of Jewish humor (compare her with Yente of Fiddler on the Roof).
    • "Dolly" is usually "Dolores" (cf. Lolitas Dolores "Dolly"/"Lolita" Haze). "Dolores" is an indirect way of naming a girl after the Virgin Mary — "Dolors" are "Sorrows," and Mary is "Our Lady of Sorrows," or the Mater Dolorosa.
    • "Levi"/"Levy" and "Cohan"/"Cohane"/"Caan" are also Irish (cf. George M. Cohan, whose second wife was, by the by, named "Ethel Levey"). A lot of crackpots on both sides of the Celto-Semitic ethnicity line desperately want this to be proof that the Irish, especially the Black Irish, are one or more of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Further "proof" is that until the latest extended trend of exogamy, Celts (including the non-Irish ones) and Jews were the only ethnic groups to have, in their gene pools, the genetic trait that causes redheadedness.
      • Gingers are common in Finland. Redheads have very fair skin, almost always lighter than non-redheads. This is an advantage in northern latitudes and very rainy countries, where sunlight is sparse, as lighter skin improves the absorption of sunlight, which is vital for the production of vitamin D by the body.
  • Nathan Detroit of Guys and Dolls is often thought of as Jewish, mostly because of his use of the Yiddish word "nu," but no one ever spells this out. When the show was written, Nathan Detroit was probably intended as an Expy of Arnold Rothstein, a well-known Jewish gambler.
  • In Richard Wagner's Parsifal, Kundry's backstory is that of the Wandering Jew. Unfortunate Implications regarding her character abound in this religious-themed work.
  • Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!, who is supposed to be Persian. The role was originally played by Yiddish actor Joseph Buloff.
    • In the original play, Green Grow the Lilacs, the character was explicitly Jewish, but in the wake of WW II, such stereotypes were no longer funny.
      • In real life, the character was based on a Syrian Christian, whose family later went on to found a dry goods store in Tulsa, which later became a high-end department store.

     Video Games  

  • Bridgette Tenenbaum from Video Game/Bioshock1 is presumably Jewish, as she has a Jewish name and was a prisoner at a Nazi prison camp.
    • Ditto Sander Cohen.
      • Dr. Steinman has a rather Jewish sounding name. Andrew Ryan is clearly based on Ayn Rand, who was Jewish (but atheist) in real life and also, like Ryan, a refugee from Communist Russia.
  • Otacon from Metal Gear Solid has the surname Emmerich, and uses a little Yiddish in Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • Possibly references to Einstein; Otacon designed MG REX and his grandad was part of the Manhattan Project.
    • He's actually mentioned in the novelization of Metal Gear Solid 4 (which was narrated by him) to be a Christian.
  • Rugal from The King of Fighters has the surname Bernstein.
  • Tora from the third Mega Man Battle Network might be Jewish. His name sounds like "Torah", he's obsessed with chess, another Jewish stereotype, has a Jew-fro, and he uses the word "kosher" once or twice in its slangy sense.
  • Not because of stereotypes, but the Hoenn region of the Pokémon games has a number of legendary Pokémon (which are, for the most part, an indication of the regions's mythology) which are based around Jewish mythology. Kyogre and Groudon, which are based on the Leviathan and Behemoth, respectively, as well as the Regi trio, based on golems, lead one to believe that the denizens of the region practice a rough equivalent of Judaism.
    • This might make Rayquaza the Ziz.
  • Telltale's Sam And Max games have mentioned Jewish things like "Matzah" and "Seder" before, and they live in New York.
  • Professor Layton has the first name Hershel, an extremely uncommon name among goyim, let alone British people. It would also explain his insistence on Never Bareheaded (though, this does eventually get properly explained in-game in a different way.).
  • Though it's strictly Wild Mass Guessing, many fans speculate that the Medic from Team Fortress 2 may be Jewish: he was alive in Germany at the time of WWII, but Word of God confirmed isn't a Nazi.
  • The Baron of Hollywood in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines is named Isaac Abrams, and he both owns a jewelry store and is a major (albeit secret) player in the film industry.
    • The Tremere primogen, Maximillian Strauss, also has a fairly Jewish-sounding name. Incidentally, he's Abrams's bitter rival.
    • Also, the rather minor character of Hannah Glazer. She's one of the other residents of your apartment building downtown (assuming you are neither Tremere or Nosferatu), whom you encounter during the plaguebearer quest. There is no particular information on her ethnic or religious background, but she has a very Jewish-sounding name.
  • Lisa Silverman from Persona 2 has a definitely Jewish sounding last name. Her parents are both American ex-pats who have pretty well assimilated into Japanese culture, to the point her dad is a clearly Steven Seagal expy (who is ethnically Jewish) who wears a yukata around the house and practices aikido while her mother renamed herself Akiko and behaves like a Yamato Nadeshiko, much to Lisa's embarrassment. It's more likely that American players would pick up on her implied Jewishness than players from the original Japanese market.
  • Isaac Kleiner from Half-Life 2 has a Hebrew first name, a German last name and named his debeaked headcrab after a Jewish actress.
  • The Genki Girl Wrench Wench, Gaige the Mechromancer, from Borderlands 2. One of her lines when opening a chest is "It's like Hanukkah!"

     Web Original 

  • In Red vs. Blue, either Church or Tex is probably Jewish considering their funeral. Of course, since they're both AI, it probably isn't all that important to them.
  • May I present Jew or Not Jew.
  • As seen here on This Very Wiki.
    * Stephen Fry is openly gay and Jewish.
    * Dude, so is half of Hollywood. Well, maybe they're not openly Jewish.
    * Jewish? He's an atheist.
    o To many, "Jewish" can be a culture as much as or more than a religion.
  • Stone, a former member of the titular hero team in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, was played this way. It was eventually confirmed by his player that he was a non-practicing Jew whose family name was originally "Stein" until his immigrant father changed it in order to "be more American". And his first name, which had never been revealed in nearly ten years of stories, turned out to be "Herschel".
  • Rick Finklestein of Bowser's Kingdom. He has the German last name, the accent and got in an argument with Paul Hammerbro in episode 10 over how to eat bagels:
    Paul: Hey look, all I'm saying is, a brought bagels for everyone to enjoy, and you're not sharing.
    Rick: Sharing, Sharing?! Please, you know how'd to share if there was something to share, what is this stuff?! You call this a bagel?! This is no bagel, a bagel is toasted and loaded with smeer. How can you say this is a bagel, you have no looks!
    Paul: Uh, damn Lakitus!
    Rick: Ya know, I don't even understand somebody's sterotypes against us. I mean, come on, Lakitus control all the media, this kind of things are unjust to just plain ignore if you ask me.
    Paul: Look, I know what I said what wrong, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone out there who's Lakituish. Just know that, it was a simple mistake and nothing to throw hammers about.
    Rick: He was lucky that I didn't have any hammers at the moment.
  • Lackadaisy Cats gives us a frigid psychopath named Mordecai Heller. This is a markedly Jewish name, especially considering the time period. Eventually confirmed by Word of God after she kept getting questions about it.
  • The German general in Humon's post-WWI "American in Berlin" series was eventually revealed to be named Benjamin. After people criticized her for giving him a Jewish name, she responded by asking when she said he wasn't.
  • In the American version of House of Cards, produced by Netflix, the prostitute that Francis Underhill uses to manipulate Congressman Russo into falling off the wagon, thereby sabotaging Russo's campaign for the governorship of Pennsylvania, had the very Jewish-sounding name of Rachel Posner.

     Western Animation  

  • Almost every character in Drawn Together has exemplified Jewish stereotypes; several of them know Hebrew song lyrics and the entire cast celebrated Hannukah. This is most likely just another way of making fun of Jews, however, given the nature of the show. It's Self-Deprecation, too, since the creators are Jewish. The show would every now and then parody how Jews frequently parody themselves in Hollywood. Yeah, this gets meta.
  • Zoidberg from Futurama. He fulfills many, many Jewish stereotypes but is never exactly confirmed. He's also an alien lobsterman.
  • Jay Sherman from The Critic is played by a Jewish actor, and the character has any number of jewish-seeming manurisms. However, as a baby, he was adopted by parents who are rich, white, stereotypical Protestants, which would make him Protestant as well. Duh. However, when presented with the posibilty of finding his birth-mother, he expressed hope that she was Jewish, which, as previously noted, would make him Jewish as well. Verdict: Borderline Jew. according to: Jew or Not Jew.
    • In that same episode when he asked the man at the adoption agency if he was Jewish the man replied, "Oh, what do YOU think?"
  • Hades in Disney's Hercules. He has a tendency to say "Oy Vey" when aggravated. On the other hand, he's a pagan god. Phil similarly uses Yiddish as a Second Language a few times, despite also being a pagan god, and a satyr.
  • Regular Show: There aren't too many Gentiles named Mordecai.
    • Muscle Man's actual last name ("Sorenstein") and his dreidel-emblazoned sweater in the Christmas special are enough to make one wonder.
  • Fish Hooks: Bea Goldfishberg? Also, her best friend Oscar is incredibly neurotic, and sports a "Jewfro."
  • Walter Wolf on Animaniacs talks with an Alter Kocker accent and has thrown a few "meshuggenehs" around. On that note, Slappy Squirrel has used the term "bubbeleh" at least once and sarcastically said that she thought that a bird on Skippy's head was a new yarmulke. Probably Big Applesauce again.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head from the Toy Story series have to have gotten that Yiddish accent from somewhere. It also helps that both are voiced by Don Rickles and Estelle Harris (who are both Jewish) respectively. However, Mr. Potato Head crosses himself in the first film.
  • Filbert in Rocko's Modern Life is Woody Allen in turtle form.
    • And Wendell T Wolf on Taz-Mania is Woody Allen in wolf (actually thylacine) form.
  • The Wheezers in Jimmy Neutron both look and behave like stereotypical Jews and Carl's mom has a Jewish accent.
  • Melman the giraffe in Madagascar gives off strong Woody Allen vibes.
  • The main family on Birdz has the last name Storkowitz. They also have huge noses/beaks, which are even referenced as such more than once.
  • The Belchers on Bob's Burgers are voiced mostly by Jewish actors (Kristen Schaal being the odd woman out) and their dialect has a Yiddish-y cadence to it. On the other hand, mother Linda has referred to her First Communion, and the restaurant is pretty far from Kosher.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Harold came off this way before it was confirmed by a Bar Mitzvah episode. Also, Eugene has the last name "Horowitz" and Sheena can at least recognize Hebrew at a glance.
  • Many Daria fans think that the title character's surname, "Morgendorffer," sounds Jewish, though Word of God says that that isn't intentional. The same is true of Tiffany Blum-Deckler, who is Asian despite her commonly-Jewish last names (although a Jewish family with an adopted Asian daughter would hardly be unusual).
  • Harley Quinn, the Joker's moll on Batman: The Animated Series, always seemed vaguely Jewish with her quirky personality and "fingernails-on-a-chalkboard" screechy voice. Then the beans were spilled when Harley was asked why she liked Christmas trees so much if she was Jewish. Later in that same story, Harley shouted "Happy Hanukkah, chump!" when attacking Batman. The Joker himself spouts the odd Yiddish phrase, but this is probably either by association with Harley or due to his background in show business - or maybe, once again, it's just Big Applesauce. It was recently revealed that Harley is half-Jewish and half-Catholic.
  • In "The King Is Dead" episode of Family Guy, we learn that Diane Simmons' maiden name is Seidelman.
    • Surprisingly, all of the Goldmans fell into this trope before the series' renewal. They were not seen or mentioned in the synagogue in "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein," and it wasn't until a newspaper headline in "Blind Ambition" that they were actually referred to as Jewish, though their stereotypically Jewish names and mannerisms made it obvious beforehand.
  • The Pines family in Gravity Falls. Mabel uses the phrase "Mazel tov!" in one episode, Grunkle Stan acts like a typical cheapskate, and their surname (like the creator's) is of Ashkenazic Jewish origin.
  • Kent Brockman on The Simpsons. His real name is Kenny Brockelstein and he's sometimes seen wearing the Hebrew Chai symbol on a necklace. However, Brockman's seen several times attending Reverend Lovejoy's Presbylutheran Church.
  • Bugs Bunny is almost certainly intended to be Jewish — although most of the other evidence (the Noo Yawk accent, particularly) is circumstantial, it would be really quite unusual for a rabbit of any other ethnicity to grow up playing pisha-paysha.
    • And also his voice actor was Jewish.
    • Although one more recent special showed that he really likes Christmas.
  • One episode of Dude, That's My Ghost! reveals that 'Billy Joe Cobra' is a stage name for Baruch Cohen, with an accent.


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