Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Top 10 Jewish TV Characters

seinfeld_idol.jpgThese days, it seems, memorable Jewish television characters are scarce. But it wasn’t always so. So without further ado, here is one yid’s (that’s me) Top 10 Jewish TV Characters:
1) Herschel Pinkus Yerucham Krustofski, “The Simpsons“: He may be Krusty the Clown to you, but in my eyes, he’ll always be Rabbi Krustofski’s son.
2) Josh Lyman, “The West Wing“: My favorite show of recent years. Others may pick the earnest Toby Ziegler, whose Jewish roots were explored more deeply in the series, but I’ll take Josh’s pragmatism and accomplishments over Toby’s uncompromising idealism any day.
3) Adam Schiff, the longtime D.A. on “Law & Order”: The consummate mensch, Schiff represented both the liberal Jewish-American professional class and the New York Democratic establishment. I’ll never forget the episode where he fights aggressively–taking on the governor and other high officials–against applying the death penalty to a convicted murderer–while at the same time allowing his wife, in a coma after suffering a stroke, to die a peaceful and graceful death. Schiff’s departure from the series was a big loss, but at least it was for a good reason: He left the D.A.’s office to take a job pursuing Holocaust restitution cases.


4) Hesch Rabkin, “The Sopranos“: A the other end of the legal spectrum, we’ve got Hesch, the music mogul and friend of Tony who provides shrewd business advice to his mafia friends. I’m well aware that this Jew isn’t one of our tribe’s proudest products; it’s ethnicity, not ethics–Semitism, not scruples (I couldn’t resist that one)–that prevent him from becoming a made man. Still, I’ve got a soft spot for this old-school Bad Boy Jew and his role of sage and fixer for the Sopranos.
5) Joel Fleishman, “Northern Exposure”: The perfect fish-out-of-water-character, a New York Jewish doctor transplanted to small-town Alaska, where a guy can’t even find a decent bagel.
6) Jerry Seinfeld: “Seinfeld” oozed New York Jewish culture, from its chocolate babka to the tzimmes at its singles event–and at its center was Jerry, the Jewish boy from Queens who became a big-shot fancy-shmancy comedian but still called his momma.
7) Ross Geller, “Friends”: Yes, I realize that his sister Monica was also Jewish, not to mention Rachel Green. But dorky, romantic, often-annoying Ross was my favorite. And his Hanukkah Armadillo, a valiant attempt to solve the December Dilemma for his son and counter Santa Claus’s dominance–puts him over the edge as the top Jew on “Friends.”
8) Ellenor Frutt, “The Practice”: The heart and soul and conscience of the titular law practice, Ellenor stuck to her values with a passion that was contagious. She was unapologetic about being “overweight”–or normal weight, to the rest of us–and unwavering in her decision to become a single mom via artificial insemination.
9) Harvey Lipschultz, “Boston Public”: Insensitive and even racist (and sexist and homophobic) at times, Lipshultz makes the list for one reason: As an elderly Jewish public school teacher at an inner-city school, he represents a significant and often-overlooked strand of American Jewish history, those many idealistic teachers who spurned med school and law school in favor of giving back–returning to the very schools that made them into people who had the option of saying no to law and medicine in the first place. It was never clear if his disdain for political correctness came from true conviction, senility, or an inability to handle the crumbling of the world he knew.
10) Adam Mesh, “Average Joe”: Back when reality shows were fresh and actually captured our attention and our hearts, he was the lovable boy-next-door who was spurned by the great beauty in favor of the hot stud. I didn’t much care for his revenge-fantasy “Adam Returns,” but certainly cheered when he told producers to send home the bus-load of hotties that showed up mid-series.
Some runner ups: Lillith from “Cheers” and “Frasier”; Andrea from “Beverly Hills, 90210,” Natalie from “Facts of Life,” and Rachel Cohen, Lisa’s imaginary friend on “The Simpsons.”
Also, I feel a need to note that characters like Seth Cohen from “The OC”–home of the original Chrismukkah–Willow from “Buffy,” and Ari Gold from “Entourage,” among countless others, aren’t on the list because I never got into watching those shows.
So, who’d I miss? Who’d I get wrong? Use the comments box to let the world know about your favorite Jewish TV characters.

  • Lilit

    Joel Fleischman! You just revived my long-dormant crush on him.
    I’m throwing in a vote for Lilith Crane, and one against Seth Cohen. Not because he’s only Jewish on his father’s side, but because he was so annoying I couldn’t watch him onscreen for more than five minutes.

  • Esther Kustanowitz

    If Jerry had forgotten to call his Mama, she would have made the long guilt trip (Florida to NYC) herself to give him an ulcer. It is the way of our people.

  • LM

    how about the entire show Brooklyn Bridge? Long canceled, filled with Jews. I wish it were out on DVD…

  • AT

    Seth Cohen isn’t Jewish. Some would consider him “half Jewish”, but his mom is gentile, like 90210’s David Silver.
    Also, I don’t think that Rachel Green was Jewish despite her last name. On the series they made reference to Ross and Monica being Jewish but not Rachel. Why do Jews on TV celebrate Christmas anyway?
    Entourage did a bat mitzvah episode and a yom kippur episode and it’s a great show, but I’m not here to tell you what you should watch so I’m simply endorsing it.

  • Donna

    Josh is a great guy, but I’ll take my grumpy bear with the good heart any day. I love Toby!

  • Aikika

    Bridge Carson, the green ranger from Power Rangers: SPD, is the first Ranger of Jewish heritage!!!

  • wendy

    Going a long way back….on “Welcome Back Kotter” there was Epstein… The Jewish Puerto Rican!! Does he count?!?……..I always liked him!

  • wendy

    Actually….I sort of remember Gabe Kotter was a Jew too!!!

  • Cynthia

    Paul Reiser’s Paul Buchman also counts as a very assimilated NY Jew who marries a blonde WASP. And Jenna Elfman’s Dharma Finkelstein reversed the pattern by herself marrying a WASP man, to her mother-in-law’s dismay.

  • laura t mushkat

    The nearly normal show about nothing special-Seinfeld is up there.
    Miss the character of Toby even tho I stopped watching the series early. Always kept up with the character.

  • Sandie

    How about Marty Gold, the character played by Richard Lewis in Anything But Love, back in 1993 or around there? That was a great show, very funny and original for it’s time. His co-star was Jamie Lyn Curtis, who played a character named Hannah, who wasn’t supposed to be Jewish but with that name, who knows? 😉

  • mary

    How about Rob Reiner’s character on “All In The Family”….what were some of those names that Carroll O’Connor called him weekly?

  • Rosemary

    Definately Don Rickles, Bob Newhart and possibly the great “Uncle Miltie”? It seems that many jewish people found the entertainment world as home………..after the Halocaust, who needs to laugh more than our jewish friends?

  • Michelle Cooper-O’Neill

    Rob Reiner’s character on “All in the Family” was Polish catholic tho he was a practicing atheist constantly called “Meathead” by Archie.

  • Anonymous

    Mike Stivik – Rob Reiner’s character on ‘All in the Family’ was not
    Jewish, he was of Polish decent, and I belieive his religion was never really revealed, but he was not Jewish. If he had been Jewish, it would have been a very major part of the series storyline. I watched ‘All in the Family as a kid in the 70’s, and I remember that Mike did not believe in God, but I recall that the religion he was raised in was Catholic.

  • Anne

    What about Adam Arkin’s character on Chicago Hope? Pretty good stuff. And, my kids like the daughter-in-law on Seventh Heaven, Sarah, because in one episode the main family goes for Shabbat at Sarah’s parent’s home, and it was all familiar to my kids.

  • Coby

    You missed Sam Levinson and his family – probably the greatest of all.

  • JMC

    AS a grandma, we watch quite a bit of more ‘mild’ programs… so some of our favorites that you have already mentioned (by clicking on ‘wasn’t always so’) are: Tommy and Dill Pickle from “The Rugrats”, Harold from the “Arnold” cartoon show, “Rhoda” from both the Mary Tyler Moore show and the sequel show by her own name, Fran from “The Nanny” (love that woman!!!)… and one that I DIDN’T see listed there… is from “The Lizzy McGuire Show”. Lizzy had two best friends… a girl and a boy. The boy (“Gordo”) was Jewish and even had his bar-mitzvah on the show. These programs are all ‘light-hearted’ humorous shows, … but in MY opinion… if the Jew can laugh… then the whole world should be able to laugh… (and many a Jew has done a GREAT job of accomplishing this!!!!) :>D

  • Anonymous


  • Robert Moseley Sr.

    I may be a Racist, Homo phobic or whatever you want to call me but,I’m less concerned about the race,ethnic,and whatever than than wherehe(she) has been and what they are pursuing,their effect on me and all that rot.I used to be concerned about being called a “redneck” until I realized these idiots didn’t know me and were exercizing their abilities to jump to unfounded conclusions, in a word ,go do an impossible physical sexual act upon yourselves.I’ll accept your ignorance as a mesure of your intelligence. I said it and notice no profanity and yet it is still wxplisit in it’s detal.
    Bob Moseley Sr.

  • Nannette

    Barbara Walters, though she is not a TV character, she is a character on TV. She was the first to respectfully tell women “you can’t have it all.” Only 2 women in history have gained the respect I feel for these women, the other is Dr. Rice. The sacrifices they have had to make to be where they are today, are unparalleled.

  • Loren Rousseau

    Jeremy Pivin
    Billy Crystal

  • Ricky

    Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Paul Buchman – Mad About You (While the religious identity of Paul Buchman, his parents Sylvia and Bert, and cousin Ira are never identifed – it is not a big leap of faith.)
    Linda Richman – SNL
    Grace Adler – Will and Grace
    Aaron Schutt – Chicago Hope
    Fran Fine – The Nanny
    Bernie Steinberg – Bridget Loves Bernie

  • Hali

    The Bluth family (especially Jeffrey Tambor as George Sr.) and their long-suffering attorney Barry Zuckerkorn, played by Henry Winkler, in Arrested Development
    Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm

  • Anonymous

    Rhoda Morgenstern and Alex Reiges

  • Zvi b’Rev Zev

    Simon Bar Sinister from Underdog

  • mindy c

    You ALL forgot the “Golem of Prague” episode on the cartoon show “Gargoyles”.
    I think there was also a ‘Golem’ episode on ‘Johnny Quest’.

  • Lisa Chernoff

    Larry David! From HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is one of the most outspoken and humorous Jews on TV! He was also well-known for being a co-creator and co-executive producer of SEINFELD! If you’ve missed it before, be sure to watch it this season! You’d love it!

  • kazem

    According to my kids, apparently The Hulk has a Jewish backstory.
    Also we can’t forget the Star trek nerd Noel in Frasier, whose devious brillance resulted in Dr. Frasier Crane delivering a speech in Klingon at his son Freddy’s bar mitzvah.
    I vote for RHODA: Rhoda and Brenda Morgenstern, Rhoda’s best friend with the last name Morgensteen, Brenda’s nebbish boyfriend with the foot fetish (can’t recall his name!), and the wonderful Nancy Walker, who played Mama Morgenstern as the deus ex machina in every episode.

  • Fred J

    Seems like a generation is missing:
    Mel Brooks Top of the list
    Carl Reiner
    Grandpa from the monsters
    The Fonz
    Alan King on Ed Sullivan on Sunday nights!
    Mort Sahl – greatest political satirest ever!
    Gen X – Adam Sandler
    Rob Schneider
    Gilda Radner
    Gene Wilder
    Yes they were all on TV as well as Movies!!

  • Terry Schumach

    You can’t forget Fran Drescher as the the Nanny Fran Fine. And of course Debra Messing.

  • doris

    did u forget about jack benny, fred allen, george burns, eddie cantor?

  • Erynn

    On “The Wonder Years”, Kevin’s best friend Paul Pheiffer. There is an amazing episode of Paul’s Bar Mitzvah.

  • Bee

    As a little goyem who grew up with 4 jewish girlfriends, I always read your beliefnet blogs…..This one warmed and comforted…thank you and Shalom

  • BunneyK

    Tony Shalhoub..’Monk’…..I know he is on cable network USA …but he has been on ABC from time to time…still tv technically anyhow…

  • Amy

    I had heard somewhere that all the major parts on Seinfeld were Jewish. Does anyone know about Julia Louis Dreyfus, Michael Richards, and Jason Alexander?
    I just know that I absolutely love the whold cast and most of the extras are fabulous, too. I watch as many episodes as are on TV at night and have the CD’s., too. Seinfeld and sports are the only TV that I watch, really. Too bad we can’t get them to do an anniversary show!

  • pixbuf

    Tony Shalhoub? He’s of Lebanese origin. See this page. While, I suppose, it’s not impossible that he’s Jewish, the CIA Fact Book does not list Judaism as one of the religions practiced in the country. I think it’s a good bet he’s not Jewish.

  • CJE

    Let’s not forget the Lennie Briscoe on “Law and Order”—the late, great Jerry Orbach.
    What I constantly wonder is: Why are there suddenly so few Jewish characters on TV today? It seems that every current series has at least one obligatory Hispanic person, black person, and Asian person, but no Jew. Why is this—especially since there are still so many Jews in the TV industry who create these shows? Any ideas?

  • CJE

    Jason Alexander (George Costanza) on “Seinfeld” was supposed to be Italian—which I always found hard to believe, especially since his father was Jerry Stiller.

  • Anonymous

    You missed two of my favorite: Grace Adler (Will and Grace) and Fran Fine (The Nanny.
    They were funny, endearing, definitly human and I think, just a little bit, broke the stereotype of the Jewish Woman.

  • Rabbi Joel Berman

    Weren’t Rob and Laura Petrie’s next door neighbors Jewish? (Dick Van Dyke Show)I can’t remember his name, I think hers was Millie–Am I going back too far? Ok, Abie’s Irish Rose.

  • ivy

    For whatever it matters, Tony Shalhoub is a Maronite Christian according to Wikkopedia. His family left Lebanon due to religious persecution (sound familiar?).
    As for the listings of Jewish actors/actresses, I am enjoying this stroll down memory lane, boy am I getting old! :-)

  • peggy

    What about Paul Pfeifer (Kevin Arnold;s friend) on
    the Wonder Years? he celebrated his bar mitzvah on the show.

  • Albert Eleazar

    You forgot Larry David of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm

  • Iris

    Bob Newhart is certainly NOT Jewish. He is Catholic. I am not sure if his characters on his various tv shows were supposed to be Jewish.
    Jerry Orbach’s father was Jewish, but his mother was Catholic. He was raised in the Catholic faith, rather devout and very supportive of Catholic causes. Not sure if he ever lent his name to any Jewish causes at all.

  • Terry

    To add to Rabbi Berman’s comment, the Petrie’s neighbors were Jerry and Millie Halpert and in those days there was no reference made as to whether you were Jewish or Christian. Then in the later 80’s and/or early 90’s Millie Halpert played Yetta on the Nanny (Fran Drescher-jewish) and she was her grandmother. If you wanted to know a little about Judaism, the Nanny really did give you some insight although in a slightly comical way.

  • Terry

    Also, in addition to Anne’s earlier comment, what about Mandy Patinkin on Chicago Hope? He is Jewish-and he was Ruben on Dead Like me. Can someone respond- Was he not in Yentl with Barbra S.? I can’t remember.

  • Jerry

    Even though I am not Jewish I read the this column everyday. I love to compare the readings to my King James version of the bible. This has improved my understanding of Gods Word for us.
    As far as the top ten are concerned : I remember the good ole days of The Van dyke show and Morey Amsterdam along with others in shows like Taxi. I am sorry Danny Diveto was not one of your picks. He has done a lot.
    If you were to list all the greats in Comedy most of them were jewish.
    Thanks for the space Jerry Bellar

  • paul martin

    need to add Jerry Lewis and Al Jolson two great entertainers there was a lot of jewish entertainers in the early days of TV George Burns Gods gift to us

  • Rene’

    What about Det. Fish on Barney Miller?

  • Hali

    “Jason Alexander (George Costanza) on “Seinfeld” was supposed to be Italian”
    Hey, there are Italian Jews! According to my ex father-in-law, they invented eggplant parmigiane. (His father was an Italian Jew, but his mother was Hungarian.)

  • CJE

    Of course true that there are Italian Jews! What I meant is that Jason Alexander’s Seinfeld character always SEEMED Jewish to me. Anyone agree?
    Also—Jerry Orbach’s “Law and Order” character seemed Jewish, no matter what his personal beliefs might have been.
    One more—the old character of Dr. Green on ER, played by Anthony Edwards, was supposed to be half Jewish. It was mentioned in the show at least once.
    SO—what happened to all the Jewish characters on TV? Any currently?

  • Bonnie Pope

    How about Feivish Finkel’s lawyer character on ‘Picket Fences’?

  • lil_red_hair_girl

    The all-time favourite Jewish character in all of TV history to date has to be “Buddy Sorrel” (Morey Amsterdam) on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” The Buddy character’s very late in life Bar Mitzvah was one of the most touching hour’s-worth of television I’ve seen since our family got our TV in 1948. There have been some pretty good characters since, but none compares.

  • Arianna

    Is anyone from LOST Jewish? Anyone remember Arnold Horshack from “Welcome Back Kotter”. Also There is no such thing as half Jewish. I am first generation Italian from my father and 100% Jewish from my American mother.

  • Mardi Hollowell

    What about Judd Hirsch in NUMB3RS?

  • William Apel

    Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz on November 28, 1962) is an American comedian, satirist, actor, writer, author, and producer. He is perhaps best known as the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and for his political satire.
    Stewart started off as a stand-up comedian but later moved on to television, hosting Short Attention Span Theater for Comedy Central. He then went on to host his own show on MTV, called The Jon Stewart Show. Stewart also hosted another show on MTV, called You Wrote It, You Watch It.
    Stewart began hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central in early 1999. He is also a writer and co-producer of the show. After Stewart joined it, The Daily Show steadily gained popularity and critical acclaim leading to his first Emmy Award in 2001.[2]
    Stewart also co-wrote America (The Book). The book was one of the top 15 best-sellers in the U.S. in 2004.[3]

  • Mickey Maguire

    What, no Larry David and Richard Lewis?
    I am waiting for the list of the top 10 Jewish rappers! Now that would be something!

  • Phighting_Phillies_Phan

    How could we forget the entire cast and crew of Brooklyn Bridge
    It was on from 1991-1993 and it was a fantastic look at Jewish life.
    I loved that series.

  • Karen

    My favorite is John Munch, Law and Order SVU.

  • Anonymous

    Many good comments above. For those posting, please keep in mind that it is a list of Jewish TV Characters – not Jews on TV. Thus, the Fonz does not qualify even though Henry Winkler is Jewish (so was Don Most who played Ralph Malph).
    Whether the character that Jerry Orbach played on Law and Order was Jewish is a little trickier. The character, Detective Leny Briscoe, was raised Catholic but had a Jewish father. Also, his first wife was Jewish which came out in one of the episodes when he attended services. However, one character that was Jewish was Detective John Munch played by Richard Belzer. Originally this was a crossover character from Homocide (I think that was the name of the show) and then on Law and Order SVU.
    Keep the characters coming.

  • Ricky

    New Jewish TV Character – Abe Shelton in Spike TV’s Kill Point.

  • Anonymous

    What about Rhoda from Mary Tyler Moore?

  • Lisa

    What about Feivel the mouse? And Grandpa Munster (Al something, I can’t remember his name)….definitely a Jewish vampire! And of course, who could forget Sargent Bilko and Private Doberman (boy, and I old!).

  • Jeff Kreshtool

    The earliest Jewish charachter I can recall on TV (I am no historian) is Juan Epstein from Welcom Back Kotter.

  • Anne

    Yes, Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope, Criminal Minds, The Princess Bride) played the major male role in Yentl, and did it beautifully, I might add! He’s eye-candy.

  • kazem

    While we’re on the subject of nosy neighbours, how about Abner and Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched?

  • Lizz Carr

    Is Debra Messinger on “Will and Grace” is she jewish?

  • Barry

    To go back one more generation, along with Lisa — my father’s favorite, the late, great Jack Benny! (“Well!!”) And Groucho Marx on “You Bet Your Life.”
    Italian Jews — absolutely. My grandfather’s name was Luigi Vogel….

  • Ricky

    Capt. Barney Miller – Barney Miller
    Garry Shandling – The Garry Shandling Show
    Stuart Markowitz – L.A. Law
    Dr. Sidney Freedman – M.A.S.H.
    Miles Silverberg – Murphy Brown

  • Matthew

    There are a couple that I think should be added, or at least make honorable mention:
    Danielle Melnick- defense attorney on “Law and Order” for several seasons. She epitomizes Upper West Side Jewish, liberal, civil libertarian culture, defending anti-semites rights to be anti-semitic.
    The entire George Costanza family from “Seinfeld.” Italian last name aside, George suffers from as much Jewish existential angst as Amy Irving’s character in “Crossing Delancey,” Richard Benjamin in “Good-bye Columbus,” or any Woody Allen character from any one of his movies. George was even fathered by Jerry Stiller… how much more Jewish can he be?

  • Marc

    You are all discussing real people who are Jews. However, most of the Jewish roles in film and TV are not traditional Jews. What is most disturbing to me is that there have been few Jewish married couples and families in these shows. And the self-hating Hollywood writers from Brooklyn go out of their way to show how the few Jews on TV distain or go out of their way to disregard their heritage and try to please their goyim masters by showing their religion is not important. The last Jewish couple I know of is Boris and Minka on the Rugrats and Jews complained that they were too Jewish . Of course their daughter was married to Stu Pickles, not a Jew. There was a show called Brooklyn Bridge that ran for a season that showed a Jewish family in the 1950’s, a world that is long gone. Hesh on the Sopranos daugher married two Jews(but not at the same time).Rachel in the Commish, intermarried, the accountant on LA Law married to a shicksa. How many of the women that Jerry Seinfeld dated were Jewish. Please someone let me know if you know of any more Jewish couples on TV or in the movies.

  • jayme

    how about:
    rhoda & brenda morgenstern?
    miles silverberg?
    john munch?
    then entire solomon family? (3rd rock from the sun)
    larry david?
    fran fine?

  • Nikk

    What about little Kyle Broflovski from South Park?

  • Matt

    “And the self-hating Hollywood writers from Brooklyn go out of their way to show how the few Jews on TV distain or go out of their way to disregard their heritage and try to please their goyim masters by showing their religion is not important.”
    lmao! Goyim masters? Dude, it’s not an issue of being ‘self-hating,’ it’s an issue of making money. The reason none of today’s TV characters are real Jews, in a sense that they actually follow Judaism, is because real Jews make for totally boring characters. Can you imagine Will & Grace if Grace was Jewish for real? She wouldn’t have been friends with a gentile homosexual.

  • Janet

    Doesn’t anybody remember Molly Goldberg–no shy Jewish mama here.

  • Sandie

    I’m sorry you feel that way about Jews who marry non-Jews. Thank God my mother, who was Jewish, didn’t feel the way you do on the subject, because then she wouldn’t have married my father, an Italian Catholic to whom she was happy married for 62 years before Alzheimer’s robbed her of her mind. Even in that state she still remembered my father.
    I was raised in a secular Jewish home and after my husband and I were married, he converted to Judaism. My son has been raised Jewish and proudly calls himself Jewish.
    Jews are shown on television marrying non-Jews because that’s what people do today and it is a part of real life that Jewish and non Jewish writers are showing. I’m not saying it can’t and doesn’t cause problems, but have you ever stopped to think how much hatred can be reduced in this world when people can say, my mother or father or aunt or uncle is Jewish?

  • Sharon

    I think that “Natalie” from Facts of Life was Mindy Cohn.

  • Marvin Ginsberg

    Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiam. He was writer and co- exec. producer of Seinfeld also.

  • Doug from PA

    Josh Lyman? He was Jewish in name only (and played by an actor who looked awfully WASPy). At least Toby Ziegler gave some indication of actually practicing Judaism, even if he was way too leftist for me. Ellenor Frutt? Please. I didn’t even realize she was supposed to be Jewish (though I know the actress is).
    How about the whole Eppes family on Numbers? The math professor, retired urban planner and FBI agent (and 2 of the actors are Jewish too).
    Actually, in response to Matt, the reason Jews on TV don’t practice Judaism of any recognizable kind is that’s what the writers are. Ethnic Jews with a disdain for actual religion.

  • Kristin

    Did anyone ever watch “Felicity”? Sean was a great Jewish character, who married a Wiccan.

  • Kristin

    Spock and Kirk!
    Actually just the actors are Jewish, Leonard Nemoy and William Shatner. No Jews on Vulcan.

  • Barry

    It bothers me when we, who have suffered so much from being stereotyped, stereotype ourselves and others…..
    “Can you imagine Will & Grace if Grace was Jewish for real? She wouldn’t have been friends with a gentile homosexual.”
    Nonsense. She would only have been friends with Jewish homosexuals? There are enough of them, after all. Or only with heterosexual gentiles? There are plenty of Jewish women out there with gentile homosexual friends. Sharing an apartment and with those issues? Probably very few, but hard to say *none*, isn’t it? Now, Grace’s mother, on the other hand …. Oy! 😉
    TV doesn’t show average people or average situations — you end up with Leave It To Beaver and Ozzie & Harriet. Boring, dated, nobody would watch, no network would buy it and no sponsor would buy into it. Let’s not slam the writers, entirely, for our mass — and mostly goyische — culture’s problems.

  • Janet

    Speaking for myself, I deny steriotypes and yet, when we consider Jewish characters, we recognize them as Jewish. If Jewish people weren’t so interesting, there wouldn’t be that many characters on television. So my point is, these characters embody traits that the public find funny, indearing, and intelligent particularly in comedy. I love them!

  • Suzanne

    Hold on !!! LARRY DAVID needs to top your list!! There would not have been Seinfeld without him. Have you not watched Curb Your Enthusiasm??…only the funniest show ever!!!

  • Sharla

    I seem to remember reading once that David Duchovny was asked about the religious faith of his character on the X-Files. He said he believed Mulder to be Jewish, and would hold that position until someone convinced him otherwise.

  • Marlene

    How could you possibly miss the characters from “Brooklyn Bridge” by Gary David Goldberg or “The Nanny” with Fran Dresher. It doesn’t get much better than these shows.

  • elliot

    You also left out my favorite: Buddty Sorell of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
    Or, was that too long ago?
    Also, Rhoda Morgenstern from Rhoda, & The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

  • Friends lover

    RACHEL in friends is not jewish!!!

  • East

    LARRY DAVID (Curb Your Enthusiasm) is the glaring omission on this list…definitely the top Jewish character of all time IMO…truly a genius!

  • Lillie

    How about Tony Scali on “The Commish”, or GRace Adler on Will and Grace?

  • Matt

    Tony Scali was Catholic–his wife and son were Jewish.

  • Michele

    I like your list, particularly agreeing with #9, Harvey Lipschultz, played by Fyvush Finkel. Even knowing how many Jews there have been on TV, my mind first goes to him, although I remember him most as Douglas Waumbaugh on Picket Fences. He has been entertaining people since the days of Vaudeville. I loved him on Picket Fences, characterizing the intelligence, humor, and creativity of the Jewish culture.

  • Heather

    You forgot Fran Fein from the show “The Nanny” starring Fran Drescher. I love that show.

  • Jean Lister

    also, Paul in “Mad About You” and Dharma in “Dharma and Greg.”

  • Donna Lee Copman

    I agree with many above!! Also loved: Renee taylor on the Nanny as Fran’s mom….Rhoda Morgenstern as played by the wonderful Valerie Harper…the little girl who played Archie Bunker’s neice, Stephanie….David Birney as Bernie on Bridget Loves Bernie, Rhoda’s parents, played by Harold Gould and Nancy Walker were so great, not over the top, just real, and Jerry’s parents were portayed by non-Jews but were perfect, and Rhoda’s sister, Julie Kavner, as Brenda, and there was a made for t.v. movie,David Janssen’s last movie, where he played opposite Susannah York as a detective named Silver, (Jewish) and he fell in love with SY even though she was a nun and it was great. David was half Jewish in real life and a great scene is when he shows the nun how to eat bagels, lox and cream cheese!!!…

  • Donna Lee Copman

    David Janssen in his last made for t.v. movie, played a detective Silver, teaching a nun, susannah York, how to eat bagels, lox, cream cheese.
    Renee Taylor as Fran Fein’s Mom.
    Stephanie on Archie Bunker’s Place.
    Valerie Harper as Rhoda, Harold Gould and Nancy Walker as her parents, Julie Kavner as Brenda, her sister.
    The parents who portayed Jerry Seinfeld’s parents were great!!!

  • Donna

    You didn’t get anyone wrong since it’s a personal list. I disagree with you about Josh vs. Toby, though. Toby Ziegler is my sweetie. I loved his idealism and refusal to compromise his principles. :)

  • Your Name

    How about Judd Hirsch,and his 2 t.v. sons from Numb3rs,they show you can be serious about life,and enjoy it at the same tims.The Eppes family is slowly learning more about their religious roots, as are a lot of Americans.

  • Brian

    What about Juan Epstien from Welcome Back Kotter.

  • Gene

    Buddy Sorrell. How many TV series had a middle aged man get Bar Mitzvahed?

  • Your Name

    Molly Picon/Car 54 Where Are you?
    Gertrude Berg/Molly Goldberg
    Harold Gould/Golden Girls: Miles (Rose’s boyfriend)
    Milton Berle & Arnold Stang
    Sandra Gould/Bewitched: Mrs. Kravitz
    Alan Arkin/Will & Grace (Grace’s father)
    William Shatner plays a lawyer on Boston Legal and Bernie Kopell played a doctor on Loveboat. While I don’t recall their religion ever being associated with their characters — Doctor? Lawyer? ’nuff said. 😉

  • rw

    Incredible – nobody has mentioned Ziva David!

  • rw

    Ziva David!

  • Maverick

    I always liked Brian Krakow (from “My So-Called Life”) and Neal Schweiber (from “Freaks and Geeks”.) Wonderful friends.

  • Bonnie

    Sargeant ‘Iceman’ Coleman from Generation Kill.

  • Sandie

    Puckerman and Rachel from Glee

  • S.A.

    Also, all the main characters on “Numbers.” It’s about a family made up of a father and two sons. One son works for the FBI, the other is a math professor. All kinds of Jewish teachings, both subtle and overt, form the backdrop for the actions of these people. Stars Judd Hirsch, Rob Morrow (whom you may remember as the doctor who has imaginary talks with his Rabbi on Northern Exposure), and David Krumholtz.

  • Steve Golden

    Douglas Wambaugh (Fyvush Finkel) on Picket fences. He was load and sometimes obnoxious, but he always fought for what he felt was right even when everyone else was against it. He truly embraced Tikum Olam

  • Pingback: JewTube: Top 5 Jewish TV characters | TribeVibe

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ede

    2 words: Kyle Broflowski

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment L R G

    I am pretty sure Bridget Loves Bernie starred Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara who are married in real life, parents of Ben Stiller …

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Alahna

    What about the most famous Jewish character of all, the creator of modern sitcom? Molly Goldberg of the Goldbergs! COME ON. i just finished watching it for a paper I have to write on the image of Jews on Television in the 1950s

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Steven Gaynor

    In the TV show “Room 222″ Michael Constantine (not Jewish in real life) played the principal of the high school, Seymour Kaufman. It was the first Jewish character on a TV series since Buddy Sorrell on the Dick Van Dyke Show. Michael was an early example of a non-Jew portaying a Jewish character. This list includes Valerie Harper and Nancy Walker, and continues to this day with Cote De Pablo as Ziva David on NCIS. Interestingly, on NCIS-LA, the female agent, Kensi Blye is portayed by a Jewish actress, Daniela Ruah.

    Also, to the person who mentioned the Hulk, it is actually the ‘Thing'(Benjamin J. Grimm)from the Fantastic Four who is Jewish.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Theresa

    Big Bang Theory:

    Mayim Bialik
    Simon Helberg

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Theresa

    Neal Schweiber

    Neal Schweiber—played by Samm Levine

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Theresa

    Neil Schweiber was in Freeks and Geeks

    Andy Kaufman

  • Imanez Evano

    These all YouTube gaming video clips are truly in nice quality, I watched out all these along by my colleagues.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nonjew

    why is no show about jews if 99% of media is filled with jews..are they just saving money!

  • Bruce Weiner

    Simon bar was the leader of the jewish second revolt against the romans, it occured to me that simon bar was also a villian in the underdog cartoon a coincidence? I think not

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