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Movie Mom

The Top 10 Jewish Movie Characters from Esther Kustanowitz

posted by Nell Minow

Esther Kustanowitz posted her list of the top 10 Jewish movie characters on Idol Chatter. Some are a bit of a stretch — Obi-Wan Kenobi? Melanie Griffith in “A Stranger Among Us?” Aside from the fact that she is only pretending to be a Jew in that film, some people consider that and her performance as a Jew the same year in “Shining Through” to be, well, a shonda (embarrassment to the community).

I would add to this list: Judd Hirsch as the sympathetic psychiatrist in Ordinary People, Meryl Streep as a sympathetic psychiatrist in Prime and as a Holocaust survivor in Sophie’s Choice and as a high-strung food writer in Heartburn, Barbra Streisand as a sympathetic psychiatrist (is there a pattern here?) in The Prince of Tides and as musical comedy star Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (plus Omar Sharif as Nicky Arnstein), Carol Kane as a turn of the century immigrant in Hester Street, Brendan Fraser as the only Jew in the fancy prep school in School Ties, Robin Williams as a club owner named Goldman — or is it Coleman? — in The Birdcage, George Segal as a Jewish cop (and Eileen Heckert as his mother) in No Way to Treat a Lady, Ben Kingsley as a Holocaust survivor in Schindler’s List, Ben Cross as an Olympic athlete in Chariots of Fire, Jessica Tandy as a Southern aristocrat in Driving Miss Daisy, Dustin Hoffman as Carl Bernstein in All the President’s Men, Jennifer Gray as Baby who will NOT be put in a corner in Dirty Dancing, and Woody Allen in just about anything.

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  • jestrfyl

    Though the argument against him being “great” can be made, I expect the biggest (and certainly most orange) Jewish character is “The Thing”, Ben Grimm from the Fantastic Four. There are a few other Jewish superheroes, and ther eis a website (the link of which I have long since lost) that lists the various characters and their religious affiliations or leanings.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Ben Grimm is certainly great! Though I think his character is more fully developed in the comic books than the movies. And thanks for suggesting the wonderful religions of superheroes website!

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