List of fictional Jews
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This is a list of fictional Jews, characters from any format of fiction whose Jewish identity has been noted as a key component of the story or who have been identified impacting or reflecting cultural views about Jewish people.
|Year of first publication||Character(s)||Work||Creator||Media||Country of publication||Details|
|Fourth century BCE||Esther (originally Hadassah),
|The Book of Esther||Traditionally attributed to Mordecai||Narrative||Areas of the Fertile Crescent||In the story, Hadassah, who was Jewish and living in exile with the Jews in Persia, took the name Esther and married the king of Persia, concealing the fact that she was Jewish. When her uncle Mordecai did not bow down to the new court minister Haman, Haman took offense and obtained the king's approval to kill all the Jews in the land. In the story, Mordecai and Esther are able to convince her husband stop the genocide. The story of Esther is celebrated in the Jewish holiday of Purim.|
|Traditional||Elijah||Jewish folklore||Traditional||Folk tales||Areas of the Fertile Crescent||Elijah figures in many traditional Jewish folk tales. A standard motif of the tales finds Elijah visiting the protagonists of the story, Jews who are poor and suffering. In disguise, Elijah gives them a gift which helps them. Another group of folktales involves Elijah and circumcision ceremonies.|
|First or Second century CE||Deborah,
Jephthah's daughter, Seila,
|Pseudo-Philo||Unknown||Narrative||Historical Palestine||Within the Pseudo-Philo, extrapolations based on the original Jewish Biblical narratives, several of the women characters have been given greater agency and impact making them "major figures" in historical Jewish lore. Deborah, as prophet and leader of her people becomes a counterpart to Moses; Jephthah's daughter is given a name, Seila, and her voluntary sacrifice becomes a parallel to Isaac; and Hannah is moved from a secondary character to a major figure who is "a model of faith and piety in the face of desperate circumstances."|
|Traditional||Wise men of Chelm||Jewish folklore||Traditional||Folk tales||Europe||Within Jewish humor, the stock characters of the Wise Men of Chelm are foolish characters who are the subjects of jokes through their illogical reasoning. Their foolish logic places them in opposition to the Talmudic scholars who are highly regarded in the culture.|
|Traditional 13th Century||Wandering Jew||Christian folklore||Traditional||Folk tales||Europe||Inspired by the biblical passage Matthew 16:27, 28 in which Jesus states "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom", stories have circulated since the Middle Ages about a Jew who interacted with Jesus and was still alive, awaiting the second coming. There are multiple variations of who the Wandering Jew is, such as a shopkeep who saw Jesus carrying his cross to be crucified and instead of showing compassion struck Jesus and told him to walk faster, and was thus cursed to wander the earth aging and finding no peace in death.|
|Traditional, perhaps as early as the 13th century||The Jew's Daughter||"Hugh of Lincoln" or "The Jew's Daughter"||Traditional, included in Volume 3 of Francis James Child's English and Scottish Ballads from a version transcribed by Bishop Thomas Percy in 1765||Song||England||Child collected over 20 versions of the ballad which recounts a tale of blood libel in which young boy, Sir Hugh, is lured by the Jew's daughter into her house (or castle depending upon the version) so that he can retrieve his ball that he had kicked into her window (or garden). Once in the house, the ballad says she ritually murders him to collect his blood for a ritual before throwing his body in a well where his mother finds it after his ghost calls out to her. While the boy in the ballad has been linked to Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, both Child and Percy preface the ballad with a statement that as historical record, the tale is untrue.|
|The Decameron (Decamerone)||Giovanni Boccaccio||Novella||Italy||Of the tales related by the characters in The Decameron, the second tells the story of Abraham, the wise Jew, who travels to The Vatican and notes the corruption there, yet upon returning home, converts to Christianity. In the third story Melchisedech is a Jewish money lender who is set up by the Sultan to identify which of the three religions of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam is the true religion. Melchisedech answers by telling a parable about an inheritance of true ring and two fake rings which leaves the answer in doubt, but satisfies the Sultan.|
|1589 or 1590||Barabas,
|The Jew of Malta||Christopher Marlowe||Play||England||For Elizabethans, the character of the Jew, as presented in Barabas, is "an embodiment of all they loathe and fear, all that appears stubbornly, irreducibly different." The play became extremely popular, and Barabas has become a culturally iconic anti-Semitic representation of "avarice, egotism, duplicity and murderous cunning." Abigail, Barabas' beautiful daughter, converts to Christianity when she finds her father has duped her beloved into a fatal duel, and then becomes a nun to escape the sexual advances of a Friar. Barabas poisons her along with the rest of the nuns.|
|The Merchant of Venice||William Shakespeare||Play||England||Shylock is "the most famous Jewish character in English" and embodies a number of the negative stereotypes of Jews. Shylock's daughter Jessica, inspired by Marlowe's Abigail in The Jew of Malta, converts to Christianity, although the conversion is questioned by other characters and represents the cultural ambivalence that the belief espoused by a "beautiful Jewess" may be simply superficial.|
|1609||Rahel la Fermosa||Jerusalén conquistada
|Lope de Vega||Epic poem||Spain||In his faux historical narrative poem, Lope de Vega presents the character of Rahel la Fermosa (Rachel the beautiful) who has an affair with Alfonso VIII of Castile, before she is murdered by his courtiers as a threat to the emerging kingdom. The historicity of the "The Jewess of Toledo", as Rahel is known, has been debated while the character has been recreated in numerous works, including the play The Jewess of Toledo (1851) by Franz Grillparzer, the silent film The Jewess of Toledo (1919) directed by Otto Kreisler, and the novel Die Jüdin von Toledo (1955) novel by Lion Feuchtwanger.|
|c. 1668||Mergata||The Jewish Bride
or On Dimo, the Albanian Baker who Loved a Jewish Girl
|Eremya Chelebi Kömürjian||Narrative poem||Ottoman Empire||The poem tells the story of how Dimo, an Albanian Christian boy kidnaps the Jewish Mergata from the city of Constantinople to his home town where he converts her and they are married by the Prince. Versions of the poem have been found in Armenian, Turkish and Greek. Some scholars believe that Eremya's depiction of the Jewish religion as being inferior to Christianity was a stand-in for a critique of the dominant Islamic religion. |
|1779||Nathan the Wise||Nathan the Wise (Nathan der Weise)||Gotthold Ephraim Lessing||Play||Germany||Nathan "is presented as an idealized mouthpiece for the Enlightenment principles of toleration and human fellowship"|
|1794||Sheva||The Jew||Richard Cumberland||Play||England||In apology for his previous negative portrayals of Jews, Cumberland presents Sheva as a "didactic good Jew", who, while outwardly appearing as a miser, is a secret philanthropist. Judith Page identifies Sheva as part of the stereotypical Jewish characters that appeared on the British stage at the time who were created by people "who simply do not know much about the subject" of Jews or Judaism.|
|1797||Adonah Ben Benjamin||The Algerine Captive||Royall Tyler||Novel||United States||Adonah Ben Benjamin is a wealthy Jewish banker in Algiers, who, for a price, promises to help the narrator, who has been captured into slavery in Algiers, return to freedom in the United States, but dies before before being able to complete the process. Ben Benjamin is the first contemporaneous Jew to be depicted in an American novel.|
|1820||Isaac of York,
|Ivanhoe||Sir Walter Scott||Novel||England||Isaac is a money lender, and while presented with many negative characteristics stereotypical of Jewish villains, has been presented by Scott with "historical basis" for his greed. His daughter, Rebecca is at the center of a love triangle with the titular Ivanhoe, and Rowena, a gentile woman. Rebecca maintains both her religious faith and her virtue, and Ivanhoe marries Rowena.|
|1833||Rachel||Rachel; or, The Inheritance||Eugénie Foa||Novel||France||Foa presents her protagonist, Rachel, in a semi-autobiographical representation of Foa's life which includes a failed marriage and becoming a writer. Foa is one of the first Jewish women novelists in the world, and her sister was married to Fromental Halévy who wrote La Juive. Foa's later works include a number of historical romances in which the characters convert from Judaism, which Foa also did.|
Rachel, his foster daughter
|La Juive||Fromental Halévy||Opera||France||In "the only great opera written by a Jew about a Jew", Eléazar is the Jewish father-figure of Rachel, the "Jewess" of the title, whom he had saved from the ruins of an estate when she was a baby and raised as his daughter. The opera became popular in France at a time when the theme of "The Jewess" and Jewish singers were popular.|
|1838||Fagin||Oliver Twist||Charles Dickens||Novel||England||Dickens' anti-Semitic introduction the character of Fagin notes his ugliness, wild red hair, and holding a toasting fork over a fire, all characteristics of the Christian Devil. Later editions of the novel have frequently been altered to use Fagin's name in place of Dickens' frequently used descriptor "the Jew".|
|1843||Alick||Judah's Lion||Charlotte Elizabeth||Novel||England||Alick is a Jew who converts to Christianity, and as the novel ends, begins making plans for making a converted Jewish colony in Palestine a part of the British Empire.|
|The Jewish Faith||Grace Aguilar||Instructional narrative||England||The anti-conversion work takes the form of a series of letters between the young Jewish woman Annie who is struggling with her faith, and the older Jewish woman, Inez, who instructs her in the benefits of the faith and provides guidance.|
|1848||Deborah||Deborah||Salomon Hermann Mosenthal||Play||Austria||In his stage play about a group of Jewish people seeking to establish a community in eastern Europe, Mosenthal, who was Jewish himself, presents the Jewish Deborah as a seductress in contrast to the "saint-like" Christian Hannah.|
|1863||Leah||Leah, the Forsaken||Augustin Daly||Play||England||Part of a series plays on the English stage featuring Jewish women characters that were inspired by Mosenthal's Deborah, Leah, the Forsaken was a star vehicle for the Jewish actress Sarah Bernhardt. The play is also believed to have influenced the production of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda.|
|1865||Soloman Riah||Our Mutual Friend||Charles Dickens||Novel||England||Created by Dickens partly in response to the accusations of anti-Semitism he received for his character Fagin in Oliver Twist, Mr Riah is a Jewish moneylender who is shown as virtuous and admirable.|
|1876||Daniel Deronda||Daniel Deronda||George Eliot||Novel||England||Within the novel, Daniel discovers (at her deathbed) that his long-lost mother was Jewish and begins constructing his identity as a Jew.|
Lyonese and others
|Clarel||Herman Melville||Poem||United States||The narrative poem, about Clarel's visit to Jerusalem as he questions he religious faith, features a number of Jewish characters, some representing Melville's literary colleagues, others representing Jews from a variety of backgrounds, such as Abdon from India.|
|1894||Bonshte||"Bonshte the Silent"||I. L. Peretz||Short story||Poland||The story of meek Bonshte "who never learned his worth" became an admonition to Jewish workers and one of many inspirations by Peretz for their social activism in Poland.|
|1894 (original story),
1957 (Perl's play),
1964 (Bock/ Harnick/ Stein musical),
|Tevye||"Tevye Strikes It Rich" and other stories,
Tevye and His Daughters,
Fiddler on the Roof,
Fiddler on the Roof (film)
|Sholem Aleichem (short story),
Arnold Perl (play),
Jerry Bock/ Sheldon Harnick / Joseph Stein(musical),
Norman Jewison (film director)
|Tevye was originally created by Sholem Aleichem and featured in a series of short stories in Yiddish. The character and his stories were recreated by numerous writers, including the stage play by Perl, which was turned into a musical by Bock, Harnick and Stien which was itself later adapted into a film directed by Jewison. Tevye|
|1909||Rabbi Loew||The Wondrous Deeds of the Maharal of Prague with the Golem||Yudl Rosenberg||Short stories||Poland||Rosenberg published a work in which he presented the folklore that had grown up around Judah Loew ben Bezalel (also known as Maharal) in which he created a golem that protected the Jewish residents of the ghetto in Prague from violence and anti-Semetic attacks.|
|1909||Sadie Cohen||"Sadie Salome (Go Home)"||Irving Berlin & Edgar Leslie||Song||United States||Within the lyrics of the song, Sadie Cohen has become an exotic dancer performing as Salome in Dance of the Seven Veils, and she is admonished by her boyfriend in a Yiddish accent "That I am your lovin' Mose/Oy Oy Oy Oy / Where is your clothes?". Sadie became one of the on-stage persona used by the comedian Fanny Brice who had to learn the Yiddish accent for the part.|
1914 (phonograph recording),
|Samuel Cohen||"Cohen on the Telephone"
Cohen on the Telephone
|Joe Hayman||Comic skit,
United States (recording, film)
|The skit presented one side of a telephone conversation in which Cohen, a recent immigrant, had difficulty being understood because of his strong Yiddish accent and not understanding the customs of the new country. On the vaudeville stage, the skits were performed by a number of comedians, and variations of the skit were recorded on phonograph records beginning with Hayman in 1914 and continuing through a recording by Monroe Silver in 1942. and an early film version short "talkie" in 1923.|
|In Search of Lost Time
(originally published in English as Remembrance of Things Past)
(À la recherche du temps perdu)
|Marcel Proust||Novel||France||Within the seven volumes of the novel, Bloch is initially presented as a "vulgar" Jew who is attempting to gain admittance to the upper circles of French society, while Swann is a Jewish man who has been assimilated to the point that he is a member of clubs that don't normally admit Jews. By the end of the novel, Bloch has assumed a new name and appearance, while Swann has claimed his cultural Jewish heritage as a result of the impact of the Dreyfus affair.|
|1918||Leopold Bloom||Ulysses||James Joyce||Novel||Ireland||Leopold Bloom is presented as an everyman. While Bloom's father had converted from Judiasm, Jewish cultural markers play an important touchstones in his inner life as presented in the novel.|
|1925||Meyer Wolfshiem||The Great Gatsby||F. Scott Fitzgerald||Novel||United States||Meyer Wolfshiem is portrayed as the friend and mentor of the titular character Jay Gatsby. He is described as a gambler responsible for fixing the World series who had made his money by bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition. Wolfsheim, described with unflattering stereotypical physical characteristics as well, is portrayed as an "alien" couter-pole to Anglo Tom Buchanan in Fitzgerald's presentation of America.|
|1926 (book, play & film)||Benya Krik||Odessa Tales (Одесские рассказы)(Collected short stories)
Benya Krik (film)
|Russia||With the character of Benya Krik, Babel brought the "Jewish gangster" motif from folk tales to "high" literature, a tradition followed by a number of other artists, who also play on the mixture of "Russian, Yiddish, Odessa jargon and thieves' argot" that Krik speaks through their use of language to signal the Jewish gangster.|
|1926||Claude Levy||L'enfant prophète||Edmond Fleg||Novel||France||Claude Levy is a young Jewish boy growing up in Paris who seeks a spiritual life and is drawn towards Catholicism before embracing his Jewish roots at the advice of Jesus.|
|1926||Robert Cohn||The Sun Also Rises||Ernest Hemingway||Novel||United States||Cohn, a former collegiate boxer who attended Princeton when few Jews were admitted, does not fit in with his fellow expatriates in Paris who make antisemitic insults, falls in love with the same woman the narrator loves, and ends up getting into fights when he does not realize that she does not want to pursue a relationship with him. |
|1927||Jakie Rabinowitz aka Jack Robin||The Jazz Singer||Alan Crosland (dir)
Alfred A. Cohn (writer)
|Film||United States||In the story, Jakie runs away from home because his father, a cantor, wants Jakie to use his voice in service of God, but Jakie wants to become a popular singer. The Jazz Singer remains "one of the most intensely Jewish films ever released for a general audience.|
|Molly Goldberg||The Goldbergs||Gertrude Berg||Radio
|United States||Molly's portrayal was widely seen as an authentic representation of Jewish life in America and served as a "catalyst in the development of interfaith and interracial understanding" |
|1935||K'tonton||The Adventures of K'tonton||Sadie Rose Weilerstein||Children's books||United States||The stories of K'tonton, a boy the size of a thumb, which follow his adventures during Jewish holidays are among the first American Jewish children's stories to incorporate a sense of whimsy rather than simply instructing in moral values.|
|1936||Deborah Ber||Der sheydim tantz
(Eng: The Devil's Dance),
Published in English as
|Esther Kreitman||Novel||Poland||Deborah, a semi-autobiographical stand-in for Kreitman, chronicles the struggles of a woman with intellectual curiosity who because she is a woman, does not have access to study in the yeshiva. Kreitman's brother, I. B. Singer, later used a similar set up for his story Yentl the Yeshiva Boy.|
|1937||Hyman Kaplan||Short stories in The New Yorker which were gathered into the novel The Education of Hyram Kaplan and other novels||Leo Rosten||Short stories, Novel||United States||Hyman Kaplan is a Jewish immigrant taking language classes at a night school. Rosten presents him in the tradition of language-based humor highlighting Kaplan's "tongue-in-cheek mistakes which, most of the time, spring from a calculated meeting of Yiddish with English".|
|1945||Debbie Brown||The Wasteland||Jo Sinclair||Novel||United States||Debbie Brown is the first lesbian main character in a novel by an American woman. In the novel, Debbie helps her brother deal with his feelings about being Jewish by recommending that he sees the psychiatrist that helped her deal with the fact that she is a lesbian.|
|1946 (short story),
|"To a Country Town",
|Judah Waten||Short stories,
later collected into a novel
|Australia||In the semi-autobiographical stories, the narrator tells of his experiences as a young Jewish immigrant and his family after they have arrived in Australia shortly after the turn of the twentieth century. Events in the stories include the narrator being humiliated on behalf of his mother for whom he has to translate because she refuses to learn English.|
|1947 (novel and film)||Elaine Wales
(aka Estelle Wilovsky)
|Gentleman's Agreement (novel)
Gentleman's Agreement (film)
|Laura Z. Hobson,
Moss Hart (screenplay)
|United States||In both the novel and the film, the Jewish woman Estelle Wilovsky changes her name to Elaine Wales so that she can get a job as a secretary and ends up working for "Phil Greenberg", the fake Jewish persona that Gentile reporter Philip Green has taken on to experience antisemitism first hand for a column he will be writing. When she discovers that Greenberg is in fact a Christian, she is confronted with her own antisemitism and has been identified as an example of the self-hating Jew. |
|1948||Ezra ben Israel||Peony||Pearl S. Buck||Novel||United States||Ezra ben Israel and his family are part of the longstanding Jewish community living in 1850s in the city of K'aifeng, China before its later dispersal and assimilation.|
|1951||Uncle Melech Davidson||The Second Scroll||A. M. Klein||Novel||Canada||An unnamed narrator, a Montreal journalist and editor, searches for his long-lost uncle, Melech Davidson, a messianic figure who has survived the Holocaust and struck out for Israel.|
|Marjorie Morningstar||Marjorie Morningstar
|Herman Wouk (novel)
Irving Rapper (dir)
|United States||In the character of Marjorie Morningstar who is the "ultimate bourgeois consumer" who wants a "big diamond engagement ring" and other possessions marking status, Wouk helped establish the stereotype of the Jewish American Princess.|
|1960||Isaac Edward Leibowitz
The Pilgrim (Benjamin Eleazar bar Yehoshua)
|A Canticle for Leibowitz||Walter M. Miller, Jr.||Novel||United States||While he does not appear as a character in the story, the titular Leibowitz, a Jewish engineer, converted after a nuclear holocaust which devastated society and led to popular uprisings against technology which included the destruction of books. Within an isolated monastery, Leibowitz led the monks in their efforts to collect and preserve knowledge. The story of the novel initially follows Brother Francis Gerard who begins his journeys after an encounter with a nameless hermit, who is later identified as a Jew, and even later named as Benjamin Eleazar bar Yehoshua.|
|1961||Buddy Sorrell||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Carl Reiner||TV series||United States||When Reiner pitched the show, he was told to make it "accessible to the public" and so the ethnic backgrounds of the characters were initially glossed over with Sorrell's Jewish background not being discussed until last seasons of the show.|
|1961||2000 Year Old Man||2000 Years with Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and others||Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner||Stand up, Audio recordings||United States||In the comedy skits, Mel Brooks portrays a 2000 year old Jewish man who responds to questions posed by an interviewer played by Reiner. The works play on the explicit "otherness" created by Brooks' presentation in the Yiddish accent of "the non-assimilated, foreign-born outsider.|
|1961||Danidin||The adventures of Dani, who can see but not be seen, and many other books||On Sarig||Children's books||Israel||Danidin, the protagonist of a series of children's books, has become invisible and uses his power to fight the enemies of Israel. Dani presents admirable traits such as learning to overcome fear, they also make comparisons equating Muslims to Nazi's.|
|1962 (short story)
|Yentl||"Yentl the Yeshiva Boy"
|Isaac Bashevis Singer (short story)
Singer and Leah Napolin (play)
Barbra Streisand (film)
|United States||Yentl is a Jewish girl in eastern Europe who disguises herself as a boy so that she can study the Talmud. While in Singer's presentation, Yentl's scholarly desires and physical description are seen as being something of a "freak of nature", in the film adaptation, Streisand presents Yentl's as natural and the restrictions placed by society as unnatural.|
|1963||Lawrence Breavman||The Favorite Game||Leonard Cohen||Novel||Canada||Breavman, based on Cohen, is a young aspiring Jewish artist from a wealthy family in Montreal who "considers himself a crossbreed of the French, the Jewish and the English" that make up the city, and struggles to come to terms with the Holocaust.|
|1964||Rabbi Small||Friday the Rabbi Slept Late and other novels||Harry Kemelman||Novel||United States||One of the first Jewish characters in American detective fiction, Kemelman presented Rabbi Small "almost completely in terms of his Jewish belief, and, as such, is a genuinely new figure in detective fiction."|
|1966||Yakov Bok||The Fixer||Bernard Malamud||Novel||United States||Yakov Bok, modeled after Menahem Mendel Beilis is a Russian Jew who leaves the ghetto in search of work. When a young Christian boy is murdered, Bok is falsely arrested and charged with the crime.|
|1967||Sammy Burrman||The Meeting Point||Austin Clarke||Novel||Canada||During a therapy session as an adult, the Jewish Burrman recounts how as a child he let his black friend Jeffrey take the blame for an apple that Burrman had stolen. The incident caused the formerly multiracial youth gang to split up by ethnicity and continues to cause Burrman guilt.|
1992 (TV film)
|La Danse de Genghis Cohn (novel)
Genghis Cohn (TV film)
Elijah Moshinsky (dir)
Stanly Price (screenplay)
England (TV film)
|In the story, Genghis Cohn is the ghost of a Jewish comedian who was killed in the Holocaust who comes back to haunt the former camp leader of Dachau, and eventually gets him to convert.|
|Portnoy's Complaint||Philip Roth||Novel||United States||Roth's presentation of Portnoy as a Jew enthralled with sexual passions in opposition to images of moral and rational led to widespread discussions . Warren Rosenberg describes Portnoy as using his penis to break the barriers of being a "nice Jewish boy" and becoming an authentic "American male" Portnoy's mother Sophie is presented as a smothering Jewish mother, which Portnoy has feared will make him gay.|
1975 (East German-Czechoslovakian film)
1999 (US film)
|Jacob Heym||Jacob the Liar (Jakob der Lügner) (novel)
Jacob the Liar (1975 film)
Jakob the Liar (1999 film)
|Jurek Becker (novel)
Frank Beyer (dir 1975 film)
Peter Kassovitz (dir 1999 film)
|Jacob is the protagonist of the first novel in East Germany to deal with the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. The 1975 film portrays Jacob and the other characters in the ghetto as "fully Jewish and fully human" and the Nazi guards as "the other".|
|1972||Teresa||Morada interior||Angelina Muñiz-Huberman||Novel||Mexico||The story presents a fictionalized account of the 16th century Spanish mystic Santa Teresa de Jesus, a Spanish nun. In the novel, when she discovers that her ancestors were marrano, converted Jews, she escapes from Spain to Mexico to explore her Jewish roots.|
|1974||Nathan Zuckerman||My Life As a Man and other novels||Philip Roth||Novels||United States||Zuckerman, a character who appears in many of Roth's novels, is a Jewish writer. In The Ghost Writer, Zuckerman is surprised at the reception his book about Jewish characters receives in the Jewish community.|
|Rhoda||James L. Brooks, Allan Burns||TV series||United States||Rhoda was the first Jewish female lead character of an American TV show since Molly Goldberg in 1955. Rhoda's sister, Brenda, was presented as a "very ethnic" counterpart to Rhoda,  while their mother, Ida, was a stereotypical Jewish mother, pushing her daughters to get married and using guilt as a weapon.|
|1976||Feiguele||Feiguele and Other Women
(Feiguele y otras mujeres)
|Cecilia Absatz||Novel||Argentina||As a teenager, Feiguele, the daughter of Jewish immigrants to Argentina, feels like an outsider because of her "unusual" name, her Jewish heritage, and the fact that her father only speaks Yiddish, not the local Spanish.|
|1977||Alvy Singer||Annie Hall||Woody Allen||Film||United States||In the film, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen), a neurotic, Jewish, twice-divorced comedian, directly addresses the audience and discusses his failed relationship with the Gentile, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton, who was dating Allen at the time) shares many characteristics with Allen. The film "and its interweaving of performer and persona, actual experience and fictional episode, personal pain and comic detachment, self-consciousness and self-expression is as complete a depiction of neurotic but cathartic Jewish inwardness as has ever been seen on a movie screen."|
|1979||Brian Cohen||Monty Python's Life of Brian||Monty Python||Film||England||Brian Cohen's life parallel's the life of Jesus, and while most film presentations of Jesus gloss over his Jewish identity, Brian proudly proclaims his Jewish background.|
|1980||Kitty Pryde||Uncanny X-Men #129 and other works by Marvel Comics||John Byrne
|Comics||United States||Kitty Pryde was one of the first openly Jewish superheros in a major comic label. In one storyline, she and Magneto bond over the loss of their relatives in The Shoah and speak at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.|
|1982||Tzili Kraus||Tzili||Aharon Appelfeld||Novella||Israel||Appelfeld created the Jewish girl Tzili as a character through which he could tell a story based on autobiographical elements of his own life and his escape from the Holocaust to Israel through what Joyce Carol Oates describes as an "eliptical, oblique, indirect art".|
|1982||Yonatan Lifshitz||A Perfect Peace (מנוחה נכונה)||Amos Oz||Novel||Israel||Yonatan, born and raised in a kibbutz, flees the stifling "utopian romanticism" of the Zionists of his parent's generation in a journey of self-discovery in the desert in the days leading up to the Six-Day War.|
|Arnold Beckoff||Torch Song Trilogy and the film adaptation||Harvey Fierstein||Play
|United States||Within the story, Arnold's secular approach to life, along with his homosexuality, create conflict between him and his mother which drives the third act of the story, "Widows and Children First".|
|1982||Isak Jacobi||Fanny and Alexander (Fanny och Alexander)||Ingmar Bergman||Film||Sweden||Isak Jacobi rescues Fanny and Alexander from the "sterile" home of their strict Protestant step-father and brings them to his basement, a "world of fantasy, art and imagination." Earlier, as a point of "titillation" the film had shown that Alexander's grandmother Helena had had an affair with Isak, the "lowly Jew".|
|1984 (novel)||Heidi Abromowitz||The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abramowitz (novel)
Joan Rivers and Friends Salute Heidi Abramowitz (TV special)
|Joan Rivers||Comedy sketches,
|United States||Heidi Abromowitz was a character created Rivers for her stand up routines, who, in contrast to being a "nice Jewish girl" was a "liberated whore with a heart of gold".|
|1985 (film)||Greg Gardner||A Chorus Line||Arnold Schulman (film screenplay)||Film||United States||Greg Gardner quips about being a "double minority" because he is Jewish and gay.|
|1987||Michael Steadman||thirtysomething||Marshall Herskovitz, Edward Zwick||TV series||United States||The show featured several plotlines where Michael sought to "maintain his connections to Judaism." |
|1987||Hillela Capran||A Sport of Nature||Nadine Gordimer||Novel||South Africa||The story follows Hillela, a Jewish woman born in South Africa, who was known as Kim while in school. Hillela reclaims her Jewish lineage by dropping the name Kim. She later has a relationship and a daughter with a black African revolutionary. After he dies, Hillela becomes one of the wives of another black man who becomes President of a fictitious African country and is given the name African name Chiemeka. In the character's changing of names with the changing of identities, Louise Yelin says the novel explores "whether or how Jewish, English-speaking white writers in South Africa can become African writers".|
|1989||Krusty the Clown aka Herschel Krustovsky||The Simpsons||Matt Groening||Animated television series||United States||In the episode Like Father, Like Clown, Krusty is revealed to have been passing as a gentile and "self-censor[ing]" his Jewish identity in a manner similar to the Hollywood movie moguls of the early 20th Century.|
|TV series||United States||The character of Jerry Seinfeld is "a New York Jew, a sarcastic, wisecraking cynic with an overbite, living on the margin of the middle state." In one episode, Jerry is upset that his dentist, Tim Whatley, has converted to Judaism so that he can tell Jewish jokes. Rabbi Kirschbaum, who publicly exposed on his cable TV show personal secrets that Elaine Benes had told to him, was a "unique" negative portrayal of a Rabbi on American TV. In the pilot, Jerry's neighbor was initially the Jewish Kessler, but was changed to non-Jewish Cosmo Kramer in part because Brandon Tartikoff had thought the show was "too New York," "too Jewish" for the mainstream American public.|
(Maurice Cheviv'el Melamed La'oof)
|Nava Semel||Young adult novel||Israel||A young girl growing up in a small Israeli village whose mother has died, hears stories from a neighbor about flying through the air that she initially believes are about a secret life as a circus performer but later understands that it was how he survived a concentration camp. |
|1991||Linda Richman||Saturday Night Live||Mike Myers||Comedy sketches||United States||Myers cross dressed to portray Richman, the host of a talk show "Coffee Talk" in recurring skits on SNL, who embodied extreme caricatures of Jewish women, including her use of Jewish phrases, such as verklempt and over-the-top passion for the real life performer Barbra Streisand.|
|The Sisters Rosensweig||Wendy Wasserstein||Play||United States||The play deals with the issues of cultural assimilation, with conflicts arising between Sara's aspirations for assimilation and Gorgeous and Mervyn embracing their Jewish identity.|
|1992||Dolly||Dolly City||Orly Castel-Bloom||Novel||Israel||In the violent fantasy Dolly City, the protagonist, Dolly, carves the map of the state of Israel on the back of her baby son so that he will know the borders of the land he will be protecting when he grows up to join the Israeli army.|
|The Nanny||Fran Drescher
Peter Marc Jacobson
|TV series||United States||In the original American version, Fran and her mother are frequently depicted with characteristics of the Jewish American Princess and Jewish mother stereotypes, in the Italian dubbed version, Fran is depicted as Italian American and her mother as a stereotypical "Italian mother" which modifies much of the basis of the core humor of the show.|
|TV series||United States||Within the story, Monica and Ross Geller's father is Jewish, but because other than rare references to Hanukkah the show does not overtly explore or on their Jewish heritage, and so Vincent Brook labels them as "perceptually Jewish". While not intended by their creator as being Jewish,
Monica and Ross' mother and Chandler's girlfriend Janice have been perceived as stereotypical smothering Jewish mother and spoiled Jewish American Princess.
|1994||Nazira Mualdeb and her family||The Perfumes of Carthage
(Perfumes de Cartago)
|Teresa Porzecanski||Novella||Uruguay||The novella follows the lives of the women of the Mualdeb family from the time they emigrate from Syria to Uruguay in the early 20th century. As the family slowly assimilates, they maintain symbols and traditions of their sephardic heritage, such as the use of a matchmaker to arrange marriages. |
|1995||Moraes Zogoiby||The Moor's Last Sigh||Salman Rushdie||Novel||England||Moraes Zagoiby is of Catholic, Jewish and Muslim heritage living in India. Within the novel, Zogoiby's Jewish community at Cochin disperses. Sander Gilman describes the novel as one in the "model of storytelling in which the Jews exist in the past but vanish as the storyteller moves toward the present." |
|1995||Zacarias Levy||Alba y el recaudador de aguas
and other stories
|Daniel Múgica||Young adult novels||Spain||In Múgica's young adult novels, Zacarias and two companions solve mysteries. The books' presentation of the Jewish Levy family "as naturally as any other characters" was described as a "novelty" in Spanish literature of the time. In the second book, the plotline involves the Levy family being attacked by Aryans.|
|1997||Bobe (Grandmother)||La bobe||Sabina Berman||Novel||Mexico||The novel illustrates the relationships between the young narrator, her mother, and her bobe. Bobe is very strong in her Jewish faith, while the mother has rejected Judaism, and the narrator attempts to join the two worlds together.|
and cousin Kyle
|South Park||Trey Parker
and Matt Stone
|TV series||United States||Cartman's vitriolic anti-Semitic comments and Kyle's responses are one of the show's hallmarks. Kyle's mother, Sheila, protests the schools celebration of Christmas because "Our family doesn't celebrate Christmas" which stops the holiday in South Park. Kyle's cousin from Connecticut, also named Kyle, is appears in the 5th season's episode The Entity as a neurotic stereotypical Jew in the mold of Woody Allen, but is also used to critique "whiteness".|
|1997||Ruth Puttermesser||The Puttermesser Papers||Cynthia Ozick||Novel||United States||Puttermesser is a recurring character in the works of Ozick and the subject of all of the stories collected in The Puttermesser Papers . She is a Jewish-American lawyer, living in New York. In one of the stories, Ozick "Americanizes" Jewish folklore when Puttermesser confronts the evil mayor of New York, Malachy Mavett, by creating a female golem out of the dirt of her flowerpots, and with the help of the golem, turns New York into a paradise and becomes mayor.|
|1997||Unnamed narrator||The Walled City||Esther David|||Novel||India||The narrator, an unnamed Jewish girl from the long established Bene Israel community in India, recounts her life growing up in Delhi. The story recounts her attraction to the "noisy" Hindu religious ceremonies and how she falls in love with a boy from the higher class Baghdadi Jewish community. The book has been called "India's first Jewish novel.|
Marvin "Leo" Markus
|Will and Grace||David Kohan,
|TV series||United States||When the character Grace Adler married Leo Markus, it was the first time a wedding between two Jews was shown as part of an American television series.|
|2002||Alex-Li Tandem||The Autograph Man||Zadie Smith||Novel||England||Alix-Li is a Chinese Jewish Londoner who grew up on pop culture and is writing a book in which he classifies things a "Jewish" or "goyish".|
|2003||Charlotte York Goldenblatt||Sex in the City||Darren Star||TV series||United States||Charlotte (Kristin Davis) converts to Judaism in the beginning of season six so that she can marry Harry Goldenblatt, the man who had been her divorce attorney and whom she fell in love with.|
|Rosenstrasse||Margarethe von Trotta (dir)
von Trotta and Pamela Katz (screenplay)
|Film||Germany||After her husband's death, Ruth Weinstein, who is living in New York at the turn of the 21st century, becomes traumatized by memories from her youth and "inexplicably" begins following Orthodox Jewish customs. This triggers her adult daughter, Hannah, to travel back to Germany where she discovers that her grandmother (Ruth's mother) had been arrested by the Nazis and held in a prison on Rossenstrasse. As a little girl on the street outside the prison, Ruth had been found and eventually cared for by a Gentile woman who was successfully protesting there for the release of her Jewish husband.|
|2003||Mordechai Jefferson Carver||The Hebrew Hammer||Jonathan Kesselman||Film||United States||In this Jewish take on blaxploitation films, Adam Goldberg plays the Jewish Mordechai Jefferson Carver, also known as The Hebrew Hammer, who protects the Jewish community from the evil son of Santa Claus who wants to destroy Hanukkah so that everyone will celebrate Christmas. The film "derives its humor from the awkward juxtaposition of Jewish and African American stereotypes."|
|2004||Jakob Zuckermann aka Jaecki Zucker,
|Alles auf Zucker!||Dani Levy||Film||Germany||Jaecki, his wife and his children, who actually have no knowledge of Jewish traditions, pretend to be ultra-orthodox when Jaecki's brother Samuel comes back to town and they must mourn the death of their mother according to Jewish ritual in order to receive their inheritance.|
|2005||Jane Smith||Mr. & Mrs. Smith||Simon Kinberg, author
Doug Liman, director
|Film||United States||In a throwaway gag at the end of the film when Jane (Angelina Jolie) and her husband are confessing secrets to each other, Jane, who is secretly an assassin, reveals that she is Jewish. The presentation of a tough, physically active woman as Jewish provides a counter-view to the stereotypical "Jewish American Princess" or "Jewish mother" images often presented in the media.|
|2006||Simon Goldberg||Dresden||Roland Suso Richter (dir)
Stefan Kolditz (screenplay)
|TV miniseries||Germany||In this film that is one of the initial exemplars of the "German suffering genre", the Jewish character, Simon, is portrayed as "emasculated" in comparison to both the virile British pilot portrayed in the film and the historically lecherous portrayal of Jewish males by the Nazi regime in the time period in which the film is set.|
|2007||Rachel Menken||Mad Men||Matthew Weiner||TV series||United States||Rachel is a department store executive and love interest for Don Draper on season one of Mad Men who is " a tribute to the attractiveness of independent-minded Jewish women, the Draper-Menken affair is a commentary on the place of Jews in the American myth".|
|2007||April Epner||Then She Found Me||Helen Hunt (dir) Hunt, Alice Arlen, Victor Levin (screenplay)||Film||United States||April is presented as a devout Jew, a character type that Joanna Smith Rakoff says is a rare thing in cinema.|
|2009||Noah "Puck" Puckerman,
|TV series||United States||In the episode "mash-up" Puck attempts to be a "good Jew" which includes singing songs by real life Jewish performers such as Neil Diamond |
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