This character is Jewish. How do we know?
Well, remember when the show did the Christmas Special
? And there was that Aesop
and the other holidays in December? And she was shown with a menorah lighting candles? But then again, you never see her observing Passover, or the High Holy Days.
Fine, but then there was that episode about pork and how she keeps Kosher? Despite the shrimp cocktail and cheeseburger she had for dinner.
OK what about her Bat Mitzvah? You know, the characters were confused by the whole thing, and how they learned about her traditions. Which never got mentioned before or since.note
And that's the problem. A character who practices Informed Judaism will perform acts that most people can recognize as being Jewish, in contrast to the non-Jewish characters, but they don't show any more subtle signs of Judaism, even for an assimilated Jew, even the cultural aspect. Their Judaism becomes an Informed Attribute
. The characters listed on this page are Jewish because the writers tell
us, they don't show us, possibly because You Have to Have Jews
This is a trope that pops up in a number of Western Animation Christmas Episodes
; due to the nature of the shows' audience
, the powers that be
will want to place An Aesop
in to show that the characters keep a diverse
set of friends or peers. As a result, a character's Judaism is mentioned at some point in the episode, or perhaps a menorah will just be shown in the background, in order to keep up that diverse appearance. After all, who really knows what other religiously affiliated holidays are celebrated by a large enough group of people
in the mid to late period of December? This will in fact be the only mention of religion throughout the episode (if not the series) , as Christmas itself (assuming the name is used at all) will not be depicted as having any religious significance, but rather just be a "Warm, Feel Good Time
", thus making this revelation of a major character feel shoehorned in. This is also despite the fact that since the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, there is no guarantee that Hannukah and Christmas will in any way overlap: Hannukah could be completely over way before Christmas starts.
Of course, there is a place between Informed Judaism and Anvilicious
. A character doesn't need to shout "Oy, how meshuggenah, a golem! I'm ferklempt!" to be non-informed Jewish, and likewise, not every character who has a Chanukkah Special is informed. It's more of a gestalt
of the sense of the character. Yiddish as a Second Language
, for example, can be a clue...though, of course, pushing any element too far lands you back here.
This has an element of Truth in Television
: Some Jews in countries where they've been able to assimilate increasingly practice their religion only on the most important holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur), and only celebrate Chanukah to have a winter holiday. They don't keep Kosher or observe the Sabbath. A practitioner of Reform or Reconstructionist Judaism — quite common in America — is especially likely to disregard most forms of Jewish ritual, including the Kosher laws. "Passover and High Holy Days Jews" are the Jewish equivalents of "Christmas-and-Easter Christians." That said, even many of these still show the cultural aspects
of Judaism, often missing from these characters.
It is also true that Jews are not only people who practice Judaism
. Generally, in modern secular usage, Jews include three groups: people who were born to a Jewish family regardless of whether or not they follow the religion, those who have some Jewish ancestral background or lineage (sometimes including those who do not have strictly matrilineal descent), and people without any Jewish ancestral background or lineage who have formally converted to Judaism and therefore are followers of the religion. Therefore, someone can be a Jew and no one else would know unless they asked. Many Jews do not do any religious rituals, and some even have Christmas trees ("Chanukkah bush").
This has occasionally sparked controversy, in cases of religious figures in other religions
who have explicitly claimed Jewishness via ancestry. A particularly well-known recent example is the late French Cardinal Lustiger
, the former archbishop of Paris and a son of Polish Jews (his mother was killed during the Holocaust). He described himself as a "fulfilled Jew" all his life and maintained Jewish customs even as a Roman Catholic clergyman (he was known to recite Kaddish for his mother at a synagogue even after he became a cardinal, for example). Still, he was subject to much criticism by both Jewish and Christian groups.
often subjects these characters to extreme Flanderization
It should be noted that speculating on whether or not someone is really
a Jew (if they're patrilineal, a convert, or secular, for example) in real life is a big no-no, especially if the person doing the speculating is themselves not Jewish. There's a reason why this list has no real life examples.
Contrast Ambiguously Jewish
, where a character displays stereotypically Jewish traits, but is never referred to as such; halfway between these two is reality. Compare Raised Catholic
, which shares some characteristics with this trope.
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- The young woman in this commercial for the Koolanoo Jewish social networking site is wearing a Star of David.(mildly NSFW)
Anime and Manga
- Benny of Black Lagoon is Jewish. It's first mentioned in the second volume, where the crew of the Black Lagoon encounter a Neo-Nazi boat. Other than that? We're talking about a sea pirate who drinks, smokes and, more prominently, who works with and for criminals, local mafias, smugglers and drug dealers on a daily basis.
- A significant portion of the Pokémon fanbase has decided that Meowth of Team Rocket is Jewish, mainly because the most popular VA in the English dub gave him a fairly heavy New Yawk accent.
- For a non-Jewish example, Sōsuke Sagara of Full Metal Panic! is an informed Muslim. He was raised by Mujahedin in Afghanistan (or its Captain Ersatz in the anime), who instructed them in their faith, but he isn't seen praying towards Mecca and sees no problem with eating pork if that's what's available. He doesn't drink, but only because he doesn't want to impair himself with alcohol, and later on because he can't have it after sustaining serious damage to his liver, not for religious reasons.
- Legion of Super-Heroes has Colossal Boy.
- A few years ago, Ben Grimm of the Fantastic Four happened to mention that he's Jewish, and he is seen praying in Hebrew (which he admittedly stumbles through) when he thought a beloved store owner in his old neighborhood was dying. Since Ben was always a gentle self-caricature of Jack Kirby, who was Jewish, this makes sense, and the fans seem to be fine with it. But it still seemed to come out of nowhere after all these decades of never mentioning it.
- The in-universe reason that Ben never brings it up is that he didn't want his appearance to be used as an excuse for anti-semitic propaganda.
- Interestingly, a short story from a Marvel Christmas Special comic book a few years prior to this reveal had Ben Grimm dicussing the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah with a little Jewish girl. This story seemed to imply that Ben is not Jewish himself.
- Similarly, during his long run as writer on Incredible Hulk, Peter David decided that long-time supporting character Doc Samson is Jewish, although it had never been mentioned before. As the Biblical Samson was an Israelite, this makes a lot of sense.
- According to Elliot S! Maggin, the Pre Crisis Lex Luthor is ethnically Jewish, although certainly non-practicing. Maggin himself is Jewish, and always had a slightly more tragic/sympathetic take on Luthor than other writers of the period.
- Other informed Jews from DC Comics: The Atom (Ray), and the Sandman (Wesley).
- Other informed Jews from Marvel Comics: Iceman, Justice (Vance), Legion, Moon Knight, Sasquatch, the Two-Gun Kid, Volcana, and Wiccan.
- Averted with Kitty Pryde. While the generally atheist Wolverine was unable to drive Dracula off with a makeshift cross, Kitty's Star-of-David pendant burned Dracula's hand, due to the fact that she possessed true faith. (Unlike most stories where it's merely the cross that repels vampires, in the Marvel universe, it really is the religious faith, regardless of the symbol displayed, that actually does the trick.) A number of other stories also make use of her Jewish faith.
- Generally averted for Marvel characters who are also mutants. The theme of being persecuted for two things tends to make it more-than-informed. Magneto, for example, is not only explicitly Jewish, but survived Auschwitz.
- Harley Quinn being Jewish is mentioned once or twice. She loves Christmas though, and it's even brought up once.
Harley: Here it is the holidays and we're hanging out in this dingy rat-trap! No presents, no fun, no nuthin'! Can't we at least get a Christmas tree?
Poison Ivy: What?! And support the mad campaign of botanical genocide that grips this country every December? Absolutely not! And besides, aren't you're Jewish?
- Abby, in The Baby-Sitters Club, is Jewish and does get a Bat Mitzvah, but apart from it being mentioned about her as a stated fact ("Abby is Jewish"), it gets little attention. Dawn also mentions in one book that one of their sitting charges, Nancy Dawes, is Jewish; it actually had relevance to the plot because it was the Very Special Episode book about racism.
- Animorphs has both Jake and Rachel as this; their Judaism was rarely ever mentioned and wasn't really connected to anything else.
- There are several smaller hints, particularly from Jake, if you notice the descriptions of his family dinners. In this case it's more a function of the stories themselves because we never get any reference to holidays for any of the other characters either. In fact all we know about any of the other characters' faiths is that Cassie's family has a pastor and that Marco's mother sang in the church choir.
- Rachel may not be Jewish herself. In Elfangor's Secret, she only says that her father (through whom she is related to Jake) is.
- Captain Underpants, as shown in book five where his Secret Identity has a Jewish wedding.
- Pretty Little Liars has Hanna, who is revealed to be Jewish in Pretty Little Secrets
- An in-universe example in A Wolf In The Soul. Greg's parents are Jewish, but as he slowly becomes religious over the course of the book he starts to see their lackadaisical attitude towards religion in this light.
Live Action TV
- Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jewish name, check. Talks about her very observant father (who won't even let her watch A Charlie Brown Christmas) as she nails crosses to her wall note , check. Responds to "what are you doing for Christmas" with "Being Jewish. Duh." And...that's it. In seven seasons, she only ever does one thing that's a Jewish custom or practice without a neon sign blaring "Jewish! Different!" And let's not get started on the whole "Wicca/witch/magic" thing.
- That one thing, by the way, is placing a small rock on a headstone she visits. That's a Jewish custom.
- Willow's mother appears in Season Three, and she seems more of a Straw Feminist than an observant Jew as her parents were previously suggested to be. Willow's mother analyzes her daughter's magic use in terms of psychology (until everyone turns into a crazy witchhunter) and gives no hint that it might conflict with their religion. In fact, the mother never mentions Judaism at all.
- Tiny Jewish Santa! Season five. They only seem to remember when Christian-norming comes up—but then, since Willow is distinctly non-practicing, when else would it come up? Some demon that doesn't want to use Jewish blood for a sacrifice? Talk about an awkward thing to air.
- In a rare hard sci fi set in the future example, Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5 is explicitly Jewish. While she doesn't keep kosher (she is seen happily eating bacon and not even thinking about whether alien food items are acceptable), her religious beliefs are central to the show: for example, she is explicitly seen lighting menorah in a meaningful scene wrapping up Season 2 (appropriately titled "Fall of Night," echoing the original Chanukka story in a way).
- When her family Rabbi visited and encouraged her to sit shiva for her father, she explicitly told him that the reason she hadn't done it was because of her complicated history with her father, not because she had stopped being a Jew.
- Brenda Song in both the Made for TV movie Stuck in the Suburbs and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody; in both she mentions celebrating Chanuka (though in The Suite Life she just says, "And give up on 8 days of presents, are you nuts?"). In Stuck In The Suburbs, she mentions having a Bat Mitzvah.
- Sometimes on The Suite Life (more frequently in On Deck), she acts and talks like an old Jewish woman.
- It's implied London isn't Jewish, she's just selfish and likes the presents aspect of the holiday.
- She specifically refers to herself as a shiksa, which is a (rude way) of referring to a non-Jewish girl
- In Lucky Louie, the priest asks Kim if she would like to make a confession, and she replies, "No, I'm Jewish."
- Square Pegs Muffy Tepperman, and Marshall Blechtman both mentioned being Jewish and having a Bat and Bar Mitzvah respectively.
- Even Stevens had an obligatory Chanukah special, "Heck of a Hanukkah". It is mentioned that the mother is Jewish and they celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah.
- Both Sarah and Laura Silverman on The Sarah Silverman Program are mentioned as being Jewish several times. "You know who else is a kike? Me, and Laura, and Albert Einstein."
- Ross from Friends cares enough about Judaism that he tries to teach his son about how great Chanukah is, but rarely ever shows any interest in the faith otherwise.
- His sister, Monica, is only referred to as Jewish twice: once, she mentions having had a Bat Mitzvah, and later, Chandler explicitly says to her, "You're Jewish!" when she laments that she did not choose to be a reverend for her career (she refers to it as a "technicality"). We never see her celebrate Chanukah (and we do see her celebrate Christmas) or make any other reference to her Judaism.
- However, when Ross and Monica visit their parents, and we see the outside of the Gellers' front door, they have a mezzuzah, which is something Jews affix to the doorposts of their homes, and also something few non-Jews would recognize. There is a Christmas episode where the gang attempts to do a Secret Santa. Ross initially draws Monica and tries to trade with someone else because he already got her Hanukkah gifts. Throughout the show, it is strongly implied, although it is never stated, that Ross and Monica's father is Jewish, but their mother is not (this is the case with the actors playing them), and they grew up in a home where holidays from two different traditions were observed.
- Monica often wears a necklace with a star of David.
- This conversation when Ross takes a Bible from a hotel:
Chandler: "Beside's its a New Testament, what are you gonna do with it?"
Ross: "Learn about... Jesus."
- Monica and Chandler's wedding procession followed the traditional Jewish style—both the bride and the groom are walked down the aisle by both of their parents.
- Monica asks Chandler if it's OK if he keeps his Santa outfit for sex games.
Chandler: "Did your dad ever dress up as Santa?"
Chandler: "Then it's OK."
Of course many Christian fathers would not have dressed up as Santa for their kids.
- Dick Tracy's sidekick Sam Catchem is Jewish, and always has been, but since it rarely has much bearing on the cases they investigate, it doesn't get mentioned much. The creative team of Mike Curtis and Joe Staton has changed things up a little by having Sam invite the Tracys over for Chanukah.
- Paul Heyman is well-known to be Jewish to wrestling buffs, but one of the only times that came up in Kayfabe was when he tried to claim that video footage showing him conspiring with The Shield (an offense that almost got him fired) was actually of an impostor. "I have a thick New York Jewish accent!" Heyman shouted (as did the "impostor" in the video, but that's neither here nor there). Heyman's Jewishness isn't brought up at other times - which is a little strange, given how universally despised Heyman is and that he could easily use this as a Wounded Gazelle Gambit. ("You just don't like me because you're an anti-Semite!")
"No, we're not from West Newbury,
no we can't 'hip-hop' like you,
My client is the conqueror,
I'm just Brock's advocating Jew!"
- One episode of Under the Umbrella Tree (which was set in an apartment in some unnamed city that was most likely New York), had a neighbor (who had never been seen before) show up at Holly's and invite everyone to a Chanukah celebration. He even explained how Chanukah got started, which included a rare non-blasphemous use of the word "God" in Western secular media.
- In the first episode of season 2 of Red vs. Blue, one of the graves for Church and Tex is marked with the Star of David. Word of God refuses to comment on whose grave it is.
- From Pimp Lando: Darboe being Jewish becomes a Running Gag in later episodes, despite not doing anything differently. Well, OK, he sings "Hava Nagila" once.
- Riff from Sluggy Freelance only mentions his Jewishness when Chanukah rolls around (though he does bring a Star of David with him when he goes vampire hunting). In the first Torg Potter arc he openly admits that he's been shooting down and cooking all the messenger owls that have been sent to Torg for years, despite the fact that owls aren't kosher.
- Parodied in Kid Radd, when Kobayashi reveals in a holiday Omake comic that he's part of a Jewish order of Ninja.
- Choo-Choo Bear of Something Positive is Jewish. We've seen comics that featured pictures of him at his Bar Mitzvah, and one where he and his cousin Twitchy-Hug explained Passover to the audience. Only thing is... Choo-Choo is a cat. A boneless, hairless, gelatinous cat.
- It's mostly Fanon, since it never comes up in the comic and is based on a joke by the author, but fans of Homestuck have taken Terezi to be Jewgish due to a conversation where she admits to not knowing about "Jegus" (referring to a Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff misspelling). It Makes Sense in Context.
- Hilariously, it was revealed later on that there was an actual Jesus-analogue in the history of Terezi's world. Terezi's ancestor was one of the followers of an underground cult he inspired after his death. In other words, Terezi is the descendent of an alien Christian.
- In Global Guardians PBEM Universe, the fact that Diamond is Jewish only came up in a single story (in which she was trying to adopt an orphaned girl), and was never mentioned again except in a much-later story where we meet her father, and he's a complete Alter Kocker.
- Fractious, in the Whateley Universe. Known to swear in Yiddish. When she goes with school friends from Whateley Academy for Christmas, Loophole's mother tries to make latkes for her. They don't turn out well.
- The Simpsons: Dolph Starbeam, Duffman (or one of them at least, given that there are multiple similar-looking actors), and Artie Ziff have been identified as being Jewish.
- Don't forget Krusty, who was the first one to be identified as such, and had an entire episode revolving around it (where the whole concept of "bar mitzvah" is once again done wrong).
- Tish from The Weekenders Implied by her having Eastern European parents, getting a type of Bat Mitzva at 12 and 1/2, which is the usual age for girls in reform and many conservative temples. Stated in the holiday special, where it is revealed that she celebrates Chanuka.
- It should be pointed out that one early episode has her celebrate Lent, and the fans seem to have a Broken Base on whether she is Catholic or Jewish.
- Sam from Danny Phantom — her religious identity is only ever mentioned in the Christmas Episode. It's even worse with her parents who fill the mold of stuck-up WASPs. Though this can be considered a case of Reality Is Unrealistic in that there are many Jewish people who act like WASPs (hence the Jewish-American Princess stereotype).
- Arnold from The Magic School Bus. Once again, a Chanukah mention during the Christmas episode is our only clue.
- Similarly, on Arthur, the Frensky family's Jewishness didn't come out until its holiday episode. They're making up for it since; there's been an episode in which Francine vacillates between a relative's Bar Mitzvah and a bowling match, and another in which she mentions playing on her temple's sports team. Plus, she's attempted a Yom Kippur fast.
- Francine's family explicitly doesn't follow a Kosher diet so that adds to the fuel.
- This may be a form of Race Lift. In the source books Francine shows no sign of being Jewish and celebrated Christmas (as she apparently did in early episodes).
- Ron Stoppable from Kim Possible: his Bar Mitzvah is the focus of an early episode, which gets a Continuity Nod during a Christmas Episode. He obviously doesn't keep kosher.
- Moishe from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends seems to have been rolled in just to fulfill this trope.
- Harold from Hey Arnold!. In one episode, he is lectured by his rabbi for stealing a ham, with more emphasis on breaking Jewish dietary restrictions than the theft itself.
Rabbi Goldberg: But secondly, and most important, you stole a ham. Ham is not kosher - not kosher at all. We don't eat ham. We haven't for 5000 years, and we don't need to
- In another, he has a Bar Mitzvah (yes, he's in fourth grade, but he was held back). And once, he uses the Yiddish word "kibbitzer" (meaning "person who butts in"). The Bar Mitzvah episode was the first episode anything connecting Harold to Judaism was explicitly mentioned; in fact, in one of the original claymation shorts, he is seen attending church with Arnold and Helga.
- In a The Mighty B! episode where Bessie and Penny keeps sneaking into Bat Mitzvah parties, we learn that Portia Gibbons is (probably) Jewish when Bessie sneaks into the Bat Mitzvah party of Portia's cousin.
- Billy wishes the audience a happy Chanukah at the last possible minute in Billy and Mandy Save Christmas claiming that's what they celebrate at his house and rubs in the fact that he gets more presents. This is especially egregious (even to the point of Parody?) since he had been obsessed with Santa Claus and Christmas throughout the rest of the episode.
- Jude on 6teen showed no signs of being Jewish until one of the Christmas Episodes where he said he had to get home because of Hanukkah. There is some irony that Jude was the name of one of Jesus' friends/apostles (and no, he's not the same as Judas). Not to mention Jude is German for Jew.
- Kitty from X-Men: Evolution. The only evidence that she's Jewish is a scene of her lighting the menorah in her home in the Christmas Episode... and, of course, being very definitely Jewish in the comic the show was based on.
- Mipsy in As Told by Ginger mentions transferring funds from a Bat Mitzvah fund in one episode.
- Pepper Ann, as well as her mother, sister and aunt. Besides her obviously Jewish grandmother, the only other indication of her Judaism is in the Christmas episode. In the Musical Episode her mother sings about cooking pork products for dinner, but it could be that they just don't practice Kosher, and it was All Just a Dream anyway.
- Regular Show: "The Christmas Special". While not confirmed in any of the dialogue, Muscleman wears a sweater with a picture of a Dreidel on it.