Ambiguously Jewish

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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

Jeff TweedyWilco

"Everyone thinks I'm Jewish. I'm not. Last year I got a call: "Happy Hanukkah." (Beat) I said "Ma, I'm NOT Jewish."

Joy BeharHBO One Night Stand

A character who fits "Jewish" stereotypes, possibly played by an actor who is Jewish in real life, but who is never (or cryptically) actually stated to be a Jew on the show. In some cases, the show might present contradictory evidence on both sides. Often this is because it's difficult to establish a character as Jewish without depicting them as walking stereotype, particularly when there's no omniscient narrator to simply say so.

Note that having Yiddish as a Second Language is a clue but is not conclusive. As Lenny Bruce said, all New Yorkers are at least a little Jewish. Having a "Jewish" name ending in -berg, -stein or the like is also evidence but not proof. These names are actually just German names that many Ashkenazi Jews took when required to adopt some type of surname.

It can be very difficult to describe exactly what makes someone seem Jewish - similarly to Gaydar, there's just a sort of Jewdar. Jay Gatsby is a perfect example of a character who is never hinted to be Jewish, yet comes across as Jewish anyway, thanks to little things like his name change (from Gatz), awkwardness in WASP high society, and connections to the explicitly Jewish character Meyer Wolfsheim.

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

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

No real life examples, please; we don't care, because it doesn't matter from a storytelling point of view.

Examples of Ambiguously Jewish include:

Anime and Manga

  • Spike Spiegel on Cowboy Bebop is considered Jewish by some fans because he has a Yiddish family name, a stereotypically Jewish haircut, and carries an Israeli-made Jericho 941 pistol. Obviously he is not played by a Jewish actor, since he is an animated character, and his Japanese voice actor isn't either. (His American voice-actor, on the other hand...) When asked, the series creators said he was modeled after actor Yusaku Matsuda, and they just thought the name sounded cool.
  • The Gundam metaseries has a few characters with Jewish-sounding names (which might merely be German names) whose background is never really elaborated on. Notable examples include 0080's Bernie Wiseman, 0083‍'‍s Deitrov Kosel and Anavel Gato, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam‍'‍s Jamitov Hyman, and Mobile Suit Gundam SEED‍'‍s Seigal Klein. What's particularly strange about these examples is that all of them, with the possible exception of Klein, come from factions that had an unfortunate tendency toward Putting on the Reich. Sure, it's a political divide, not ethnic, but it's still odd to see possibly-Ambiguously Jewish characters goose-stepping.
    • In some circles of Gundam fandom, hero Amuro Ray and Captain Bright may or may not be Jewish.
    • Speaking of Gundam, presumably Louise Halevy of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 has Jewish ancestry, as Halevy is a generally Sephardic Jewish surname and Louise's family is from Spain.
    • The Kleins were confirmed by Word of God as being from Scandinavia, possibly related to royalty or nobility. However, they ironically go in a different direction than most of the examples because their own faction (the coordinators) is treated with about the same respect as WWII-era Jews by the naturals.
  • Code Geass: Ohgi. His hair, held back by a hairband, looks vaguely afro-ish, but it was that random Star of David on his uniform that earned him the name Jewgi.

Comic Books

  • Ben Grimm, the Thing in the Fantastic Four, was created by Jews, has a Jewish name (Benjamin Jacob), resembles the Golem legend, and grew up in a Yancy Street neighborhood resembling New York's Lower East Side. Grimm was finally confirmed as Jewish in 2002, 41 years after his first appearance. This ended with an immortal "You don't look Jewish..." That story explains that he'd been hiding as many signs of his Jewishness as he could ever since the accident, due to his monstrous form, not wanting his monstrousness to be anti-semitism fuel.
  • The character of Moon Knight, aka Marc Spector, was retroactively made Jewish several years after his debut when his creators were informed that 'Spector' was a Jewish name (they'd originally chosen it just because it sounded cool).
  • Superman, prior to the Byrne reboot in 1986 (which got rid of some of these elements), is a classic example: his origin story is a modern take on Moses (his people faced terrible destruction, and his parents cast him adrift hoping to spare him; Kandor represents the people he came back to save and take to the promised land); his cultural heritage, which he took great pride in, was a distinctly non-Christian monotheism with an emphasis on intellectual achievement; and his Kryptonian name, "Kal-El," has an ending meaning "God," common in Jewish names such as Nathaniel and Israel. (In fact, in Hebrew, "Kal-El" could translate as either "All [that is under] God," as in, "One Nation, Under God," the American Way; or "The Voice of God," as in, Prophecy, Truth, and Justice.) Superman was created by two Jews, Siegel and Schuster in the late 1930s, and given a name which is a rough translation of the German word "Ubermensch." The Nazis were fond of this concept, as well; a black-haired Ubermensch who fights for "truth, justice, and the American way" might well have been a Take That, or at least some catharsis, for the creators. In one Golden Age what-if story, Supes even delivered a "distinctly non-Aryan sock to the jaw for you, Adolf!" (Compare and contrast to Captain America (comics), the blonde, blue-eyed Nazi's worst nightmare.)
  • Elliot S! Maggin stated that he saw Lex Luthor as Jewish, and has the character use some Yiddish as a Second Language in his novel Last Son of Krypton. It should be noted that A) this was Silver Age Luthor, who was not a Corrupt Corporate Executive whose primary trait is greed, B) Maggin is Jewish, and C) Maggin is very, very fond of Luthor.
  • Some suspect Ultimate Spider-Man is Jewish, mostly because he has Yiddish as a Second Language and dated Kitty Pryde, Marvel's Jewish poster girl. He's modeled after Stan Lee, who is Jewish, but it's probably just the Big Applesauce effect.
  • Batman. His maternal grandfather is Jewish, which is why his mother has a Jewish last name, Kane. Because her mother wasn't Jewish, however, she would not have been considered Jewish. The name is probably a Shout-Out to Bob Kane, co-creator of Batman, who was Jewish. Current Batwoman and distant-relative Kate Kane, however, actually is Jewish.
  • From Watchmen, Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl), Jonathan Osterman (Dr. Manhattan), and Rorschach, son of Sylvia Glick, and Sally Jupiter (the original Silk Spectre), who changed her last name to hide Polish ancestry. Given Alan Moore's interest in the history of the comic-book medium and the history of superheroes, it is not hard to imagine that he might have made many of his superheroes Ambiguously Jewish as a deliberate allusion to the religious background of so many of the creators of the superhero-comic form.
  • Shilo Norman was shown consulting a rabbi in the 2006 Grant Morrison-written Mister Miracle miniseries. This background makes him perhaps the only comic superhero who is both black and Jewish. It might also be noted that Norman has escaped death after dying, much like another Jewish celebrity.
  • Word of God said that Wiccan of the Young Avengers was Jewish long before this was mentioned in passing in the actual comics. Given that his real name is Billy Kaplan, it's not exactly a surprise.
  • X Men Big Bad Magneto (real name Max Eisenhardt but known by an assumed name of Erik Lehnsherr) has occasionally had his ancestry cast in doubt like this. It's a well-established part of his backstory that he was in a Nazi concentration camp, but other groups were placed in those as well. Briefly, Marvel claimed he was a Gypsy or just avoided mention of his ethnicity for a while out of fear of being called anti-Semitic, but it was eventually confirmed that he's Jewish.
  • The character of G.B. Blackrock from the Generation One Transformers comic published by Marvel Comics. Blackrock sounds like an Anglicization of Schwarzstein, and creator Bob Budiansky said he based the character's name off that of his friend Gary Bennett Schwartz; both Budiansky and Schwartz are Jewish. Nevertheless, Blackrock's religious or ethnic background is never referred to explicitly in the comic. Also, there was an amusing incident during the scraplet outbreak wherein Goldbug (an alternate name for Bumblebee) telephoned Blackrock for help; Blackrock's secretary mispronounced Goldbug as Goldberg.

Fan Works

  • Fishlegs Ingerman and his siblings in the How to Train Your Dragon fanfic A Thing of Vikings, building on his characterization in the film. Later all ambiguity is wiped away, when it's revealed that his grandfather was a displaced Jewish scribe named Dror ben Ezra; later the discovery of Jews in Rouen prompts the Ingermans to embrace them as family and after learning of their historical persecution offer them homes and jobs on Berk.


  • Maury Ballstein of Zoolander.
  • Miracle Max and his wife in The Princess Bride. This was somewhat Lampshaded in the book. Billy Crystal, who played Max, once referred to the pair as "little Jewish trolls."
  • Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane. Particularly suspicious is a brief scene in which Charles's overly WASPy first wife, Emily Norton, admits that she doesn't feel comfortable having Mr. Bernstein around, although she won't say why.
  • Pretty much everyone in Wet Hot American Summer: it takes place at a Jewish summer camp, but this is mentioned so little that viewers could easily miss it. Listen to the names Janeane Garofalo calls out in the cafeteria for the "early bus to Boston" (they're all incredibly stereotypical Jewish names, and include "David Ben Gurion").
  • The protagonist of Escape from New York and Escape From L.A. has the somewhat Jewish surname of Plissken.
  • Egon Spengler and Janine Melnitz of Ghostbusters have very Jewish-sounding names, but their religions have never been mentioned. Harold Ramis, a Jew, jokes about his hair being a "Jewfro" in the film. Ironically, Oswald Spengler, the philosopher who inspired Egon's surname, was openly anti-Semitic.
  • Lots of characters in Mel Brooks' movies (not counting the ones who are explicitly Jewish). Not a surprise, as Brooks is proudly Jewish himself and loves referencing Jewish/Yiddish culture.
  • Eduard Abramowitz, a.k.a. Eisenheim, the titular illusionist of The Illusionist. Not only is Abramowitz a Jewish surname, but, well, he's a stage magician in early twentieth century Vienna.
  • The Three Stooges (Jews in real life) drop a lot of Yiddish phrases in their dialogues, and break out into Klezmer-style dancing when one of them injures his foot. The characters' actual religion, however, is never mentioned.
  • Played for Laughs in Superman II. When Superman saves a boy who was about to plummet into the Niagara Falls, a stereotypical old Brooklyn lady exclaims: "What a nice man! Of course he's Jewish!"
  • The film version of The Devil Wears Prada is an interesting case. In the book both protagonist Andrea Sachs and the eponymous devil Miranda Priestly are explicitly Jewish, and this is somewhat significant for both characters. In the movie, however, this is never mentioned, or even really hinted at much.
  • Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds is an interesting case. He's placed in charge of a unit of commandos who are all Jewish, but we never learn if he's Jewish himself. Nothing about his name or personality suggests that he's Jewish, but he does seem to have a personal hatred for Nazis that goes beyond simple enemies of war. Word of God says his hatred of Nazis has to do with his years fighting the KKK. The scar on his neck was likely from a lynching. Whether this is because he's Jewish, part-Native American, or some other reason is unknown.
  • Cher from Clueless lives in Beverly Hills, has the last name Horowitz, and has a New York-accented litigator for a father, yet no explicit mention is made of her Jewishness. Incidentally, the actress who played Cher and the actor who played her father are both Jewish.
  • The character of Lawrence Garfield from Other People's Money had the very Jewish-sounding name of Lawrence Garfinkle in the original stage play. Changing it for the film may have been to avoid Unfortunate Implications.
  • Played with in Friends with Benefits with Jaime: her mother, not knowing who Jaime's father is, refers to her as looking ambiguously middle eastern. The actress who plays Jaime, Mila Kunis, is Jewish.
  • Screenwriter Daniel Waters gave Max Shreck, the Corrupt Corporate Executive and tertiary villain of Batman Returns, some Ambiguously Jewish characteristics, most notably a few Yiddish expressions slipped into the script, although these were dropped in the actual film. Max's portrayer, Christopher Walken, is actually a Methodist, although he is a native New Yorker and reportedly knows some Yiddish (and said that he based his characterization of Max on Meyer Wolfsheim, the Jewish gambler in The Great Gatsby). Andrew Bryniarski, who played Max's son Chip in that movie, is of Russian descent, so he could easily be Jewish. The novelization, however, mentions that their family celebrates Christmas.
  • The two backpackers in An American Werewolf in London have Jewish names and come from New York. A nurse says that she thinks one of them is Jewish because he's circumcised, but another nurse counters that lots of gentiles are circumcised these days. It's never confirmed one way or the other.


  • Isaac Asimov's Pebble in the Sky, the first novel in the larger Empire Trilogy, has as one of its main protagonists the retired tailor Joseph Schwartz. Not only did most of its readers assume that Schwartz was Jewish, based on his name and Asimov's own Jewish ancestry, but apparently so did almost all the reviewers and industry professionals. When this was finally mentioned to Asimov himself, he said that he never ascribed any particular faith to Schwartz when he was writing the story, and the novel itself actually gives no specific mention of any religion.
  • It was noted in a recent Guardian review of the original novel Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day that ironically, given the title character's racism and anti-Semitism (emblematic of the time period and which the author seems to endorse), her eventual romance is with a character named Joseph Blomfield.
  • Discworld features a number of characters who fit:
    • Cohen the Barbarian. Besides his Jewish surname, there's that "wholesale destruction" joke. However, the stereotype wasn’t played up very often, and his name mainly serves as a pun.
    • The entire dwarfish species is ambiguously Jewish, although the author says that this really wasn't his intention (so are the golems, and that almost certainly was). Thud! added a clear, also probably unintended parallel between the Dwarvish minority in Ankh-Morpork and Muslims in the western world. It's a shame Ambiguously Semitic isn't a trope, really.
    • More problematic is ubiquitously recurring character (who actually has a number of diverse counterparts in other cultures of the Discworld) "Cut-My-Own-Throat" Dibbler. This unethical sausage-dealer/poli-genius entrepreneur might only seem Jewish by anti-Semitic stereotype, but in the novel Moving Pictures he pretty much becomes David O. Selznick . . .
  • In another odd case where the character is Jewish or Irish (or arguably both), the Corrupt Corporate Executive Melmotte in The Way We Live Now is a Fauxreigner who has likely altered his name to sound French. His wife is explicitly Jewish, and his name could be interpreted as a clever adaptation of the Jewish name Malamud, and there is a lot of prejudice by the author and characters which relies on the assumption that he is Jewish. David Suchet, who played him in the Masterpiece Theatre series, has Jewish ancestry. On the other hand, the author's notes during writing peg him at one point as an Irish-American originally named Malmedy. So, Melmotte's background basically depends on what Anthony Trollope was thinking about at any given point while writing.
  • The Baudelaire orphans of A Series of Unfortunate Events are Jewish, according to this interview by Daniel Handler. Count Olaf uses expressions like "Truth, Schmuth", and has on at least one occasion disguised himself as a rabbi.
  • Irene Adler, from the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia," and many other Holmes stories by writers other than Doyle. Certainly, her name sounds Jewish, and it has been theorized that she was inspired, at least in part, by Sarah Bernhardt.
  • The Clique. A number of minor characters have Jewish-sounding last names and reference bat mitzvahs. Also, Massie Block has a Jewish surname, and (along with her mother) easily fits the Jewish American Princess stereotype, has a mother who sounds "ready to sue" upon believing that Jesus was mentioned in her daughter's history class, and mentions bar mitzvahs. The author, who has a physical appearance not unlike Massie's, is Jewish.
  • Some have interpreted Black Michael of The Prisoner of Zenda as being Jewish/having a Jewish mother. In the novel, Black Michael cannot legitimately take the throne because he's the product of a Morganatic marriage, but adaptations have presented him as a Bastard Bastard and placed more emphasis on a lack of royal ancestry on his mother's side, leading to the assumption that she must have been of a different religion than that of Ruritania's Catholic monarchy, and the further assumption that this meant she was Jewish. Besides all of the assumptions this requires, it seems unlikely, since if he was intended as Jewish, the book would have called attention to it, and Black Michael is supposed to be beloved by the religious, Slavic peasants of Ruritania, a somewhat unlikely feat if he was Jewish.
  • Francine in the Arthur books. She's Jewish in the cartoon, though it's most likely a retcon, but in the source books she seems to celebrate Christmas.
  • Many have interpreted Ebeneezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol as a particularly crass anti-Semitic caricature, being that he's an exceptionally stingy moneylender with a Hebrew name, who doesn't celebrate Christmas. This is most likely a case of Unfortunate Implications though, as Dickens had no problem with stating the similarly offensive Fagin is Jewish in Oliver. Nevertheless, several adaptations have run with this, to varying degrees, A Muppets Christmas Carol being a notable example.

Live-Action TV

  • George and the rest of the Costanza family on Seinfeld. On the one hand, they have an Italian last name (though it could be Sephardic), Frank is allegedly a member of the Knights of Columbus, and why would they need Festivus as a Christmas alternative if they could have just celebrated Hanukkah instead? Frank also sold statues of Jesus to Koreans. On the other hand, they are all played by Jewish actors and George is the avatar of co-creator Larry David, who is also Jewish. Jason Alexander said he wasn't sure what ethnicity George was meant to have until Estelle Harris was cast as his mother, saying "She can't be anything but Jewish." Wikipedia says that they are a Jewish-Italian mixed marriage, but this is clearly just a Retcon, as David admitted that they didn't really think about any of this, just choosing names that they liked for the characters and casting the best actors and actresses available.
  • Paul Buchman and his relatives on Mad About You. Casting Mel Brooks as Paul's Uncle Phil was a heck of a clue, though. There was even ambiguity for Jamie Buchman. The closing tag to one episode showed her telling Paul that she had relatives in Israel. When he looks doubtful, she says "Don't assume." Helen Hunt is actually one-quarter Jewish.
  • Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show was originally one of these... until they eliminated all doubt by having an episode about his Bar Mitzvah. Also a very early example of Very Special Episode.
  • At least some people think that Jerry And Millie (especially Millie) were supposed to be Jewish.
  • Brodie on Homicide: Life on the Street was never confirmed Jewish, but in the episode "Kaddish", which focuses heavily on the religion of Jewish cop John Munch, he knows a great deal about Jewish burial rites. Ironically, a peeved Munch had once said of Brodie that he knew what the "JH" stood for, with the implied answer being "Jew hater."
  • Kipp Steadman on Less Than Perfect. He'd occasionally use "shalom" as a greeting. Also, at one point, the main character threatened to tell his boss that he doesn't go the synagogue on Friday evenings, to which he responded with "Oy vey".
  • Fox Mulder of The X-Files. David Duchovny, himself descended from Russian Jews, said early in the show that he would "assume Mulder is Jewish until told otherwise." Not all the show's writers agreed. The evidence for and against includes:
    • In the episode "Kaddish", Mulder can understand a few words of spoken Hebrew, but can't read any. He doesn't otherwise show much familiarity with the traditions of the very orthodox Jewish community they're investigating. ("Kaddish" was written by Howard Gordon, who is Jewish himself but had long insisted that Mulder wasn't.)
    • In both "Kaddish" and "Drive," antisemites accuse Mulder of looking Jewish. He refuses to answer both times.
    • In "Conduit," also by Howard Gordon, Mulder is seen sitting alone in a Christian church, apparently having gone there for comfort when he was upset, although he's agnostic and usually vaguely cynical about organized religion.
    • In "The Blessing Way," Mulder's father has a Christian funeral. There's also an episode where we can see a box of Christmas decorations in the garage of Mulder's mom's house, although some Jews do celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. When Mulder was a child they lived in Martha's Vineyard, an extremely WASPy part of New England.
    • Both Mulder and Kuipers (his mom's maiden name) are usually Dutch/Afrikaner surnames. His mother's first name is Teena, which is usually short for Christina and would be a fairly weird name for a Jewish woman of her generation.
  • Most of the characters of Salute Your Shorts had "Jewish" last names (Stein, Ziff, Gelfen, Pinsky, etc.). None of them were directly stated to be Jews, but it was mentioned in one episode that if Budnick and Dina had a child, it would have a Bar Mitzvah. Dina also fits the stereotype of a JAP (Jewish-American Princess). There used to be an actual Camp Anawana on the site of (and operated by) Borscht Belt resort Kutsher's, which would cater mostly to Jewish clients.
  • If the wedding is any indication, Lord Zedd. Of course, that could just be the Jewish writer Haim Saban writing the ceremony he knows. Also, see "I'm Dreaming of a White Ranger", when he tries to usurp Christmas with spinning tops.
  • Numb3rs: The Eppes family were ambiguously Jewish for the first two seasons. They clearly weren't observant at all, but the actors who play Don, Charlie, and Alan (Rob Morrow, David Krumholtz, and Judd Hirsch) are all Jewish. In season 3, it was established that they are in fact nonobservant Jews.
  • Matt Parkman on Heroes is Jewish according to actor Greg Grunberg (who is also Jewish). The only "hints" of his religion on the show was when he said "Mazel tov" to HRG.
  • In Plain Sight on USA has a character, Robert "Bobby D" Dershowitz. The name would give it away, except that he's black. The ambiguity is gone now (for those of us who realized Dershowitz was a Jewish last name) as he has now moved to Chicago where he's settling in well because there are so many more synagogues than in Albuquerque, where the show is set.
  • Hank and Evan Lawson from Royal Pains. Winkler showed up as their father Eddie.
    • It's official now. In the episode "Keeping the Faith", Hank's patient mentions needing a "new Faith" (he's referring to his sister/manager, who will no longer be working for him). Evan suggests Judaism as, "we could use a big guy on our side".**
  • Kenny in The War at Home seems to be Ambiguously Jewish, since his mother has a Hebrew name ("Shirra") and the music that plays during his fantasy of marrying Larry sounds Jewish-theme. Then again, he could also qualify as an "Ambiguously Muslim" since his father's name "Achmed" is a common Muslim name. If so, Kenny was kicked out of the house because homosexuality isn't allowed in the Muslim world and Shirra also had to follow her husband because of the rules (which was rather exaggerated).
    • Then again, Kenny's parents might be inter-faith married.
  • Lorne from Angel often displays Jewish mannerisms and diction; e.g, calling Angel "Bubeleh" and telling an assistant to "eat a bagel; you look a little waxy."
  • Jack Gallo on Just Shoot Me acts, talks, and looks just like a stereotypical New York Jew from the Bronx (this is because his actor, George Segal, is a New York Jew from the Bronx.) Yet to avoid Unfortunate Implications, he's revealed to have a Jewish Mother, but he wasn't raised religiously. Finch even lampshades this telling Maya about his WASPiness (paraphrased):

Look, you and Jack may be Jewish, Italian, or whatever you've got going on. But I'm a WASP from Upstate. We didn't talk about these things.

  • When Law and Order started airing in Israel, many thought that Sam Waterston was Jewish (Waterston->Waterstone->Waterstein, etcetera). Despite over a decade to get wiser, people haven't.
    • Hilarious since the actor Steven Hill (playing Schiff) is actually an Orthodox Jew—he had a "no work on Sabbath" clause in his contract.
  • Isaac Jaffe on Sports Night has a very Jewish name (Isaac is from the Biblical patriarch, and the last name Jaffe comes from the Hebrew word for beautiful), and frequently uses Yiddish expressions. On the other hand, everyone who knows him insists that his use of Yiddish expressions doesn't work for him, which is probably connected to the fact that he is black, suggesting that if he is Jewish, his background is not Ashkenazic. His wife also has a Jewish name, Esther. On the other hand, in the episode "April is the Cruelest Month," Will tells Jeremy that the two of them, plus Elliot and Will "pretty much represent the Jewish population around here," which implies, but does not state outright that Isaac is not Jewish.
  • Pavel Chekov on Star Trek: The Original Series, portrayed by Jewish actors Walter Koenig in the original series and Anton Yelchin in the reboot, has some fandom support for this. Leonard Nimoy, also Jewish, adapted the famous Vulcan hand salute from Jewish religious tradition. William Shatner is also Jewish, but Kirk doesn't seem to get this quite as often from the fandom.
  • The Muppets:
    • Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, since he's a cousin to Moisha the Oofnik, an Israeli-Jewish Grouch. Also the Count... no one really knows why someone would make vampire seem Jewish, but they did.
    • Fozzie Bear from The Muppet Show. Frank Oz, who is himself of Jewish ancestry, performed him as a callback to the Borscht Belt vaudevillians of old; as a result Fozzie has done gags like pulling arabbiout of a hat.
    • Marjorie the Trash Heap on Fraggle Rock.
  • Miranda Feigelstein in Mysterious Ways is an in-universe example: early in the first season, Declan says that he assumed she was Jewish because of her last name. She replies that she's not Jewish and her name is pronounced FeigelSTEEN, and gets upset at how little he seems to know about her.
  • In "Dead Luck," an episode of Lost Girl, Mayer and his family come across as stereotypical Jewish gangsters, although, being that they are fae, this is presumably just an affectation for them.
  • In Homeland, Nicholas Brody and his family have a Jewish last name, but no other obvious markers of any kind of Jewish background. Whatever Brody's religious upbringing, a key plot point is that he has since secretly converted to Islam. Interestingly, the show is an adaptation of an Israeli TV series Hatuphim, in which the family's last name is not Brody. In any case, episode four shows the family in church, so apparently it was just a name, nothing more.
  • In an episode of Fringe, Walter mentions that William Bell's father taught him Yiddish (and proceeds to speak it later in the episode). Bell is played by Leonard Nimoy, who is Jewish, and profession-wise Bell is a scientist, academic, and business magnate who lived in New York City, which pretty much hits the nail right on the head.
  • In Friends, Ross and Monica were originally supposed to be Jewish. It's more overt in the first few episodes, but quickly dropped in favour of more ambiguously neurotic New Yorkers. Later on Ross tries to teach his son about Hannukah, and Monica mentions her Bat Mitzvah, but it's never outright stated.
  • Artie Nielsen, born Arthur Weisfelt, of Warehouse 13 has numerous hints dropped throught the first two seasons, but is placed firmly in this category by the Christmas episode of Season 2 which reunites him with his father, played by Judd Hirsch. As a sort of retro lampshade to this sudden Judaism, his de facto daughter, Claudia, when invited to say grace at the (gentile) Christmas dinner table, intones "Baruch atah adonai eloheinu melech...", although she is rapidly put right by the two older gentlemen.
  • In at least one episode Starsky has a Star of David on his dashboard and a menorah in his apartment. (Paul Michael Glaser is Jewish in real life.)

New Media

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


  • Death of a Salesman has been seriously analyzed for decades (NY Times article) on the subject of whether the Lomans were Jewish. Arthur Miller was brought up Jewish and based the character of Willy Loman on his uncle who was a salesman in the Depression. Miller stated in a 1969 interview that Willy Loman's religious or cultural background seemed irrelevant, but acknowledged in the 50th anniversary edition of the play that the Lomans could have been assimilated Jews. Loman lacks any identifying features of a Jewish (or any other) background, but this can be interpreted both ways; either Willy Loman was written without religious or cultural background to act as The Everyman and represent the broader American experience, or else his conspicuous lack of these features is a sign of how he abandoned an immigrant past in his drive for the American Dream.
  • The Hollanders from Don't Drink the Water. Woody Allen wrote this one and actually played Walter Hollander in the second movie version.
  • Dolly Levi of Thorton Wilder's The Matchmaker and Hello, Dolly! is an interesting case, as she is played by Barbra Streisand in the film, and the character in the play is presumably Irish-American (her maiden name is Gallagher) and intermarried, but in both cases speaks with a "Yiddish" rhythm and is a good fit for the stereotypical matchmaker of Jewish humor (compare her with Yente of Fiddler on the Roof).
    • "Dolly" is usually "Dolores" (cf. Lolitas Dolores "Dolly"/"Lolita" Haze). "Dolores" is an indirect way of naming a girl after the Virgin Mary -- "Dolors" are "Sorrows," and Mary is "Our Lady of Sorrows," or the Mater Dolorosa.
    • "Levi"/"Levy" and "Cohan"/"Cohane"/"Caan" are also Irish (cf. George M. Cohan, whose second wife was, by the by, named "Ethel Levey"). A lot of crackpots on both sides of the Celto-Semitic ethnicity line desperately want this to be proof that the Irish, especially the Black Irish, are one or more of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Further "proof" is that until the latest extended trend of exogamy, Celts (including the non-Irish ones) and Jews were the only ethnic groups to have, in their gene pools, the genetic trait that causes redheadedness.
  • Nathan Detroit of Guys and Dolls is often thought of as Jewish, mostly because of his use of the Yiddish word "nu," but no one ever spells this out. When the show was written, Nathan Detroit was probably intended as an Expy of Arnold Rothstein, a well-known Jewish gambler.
  • In Richard Wagner's Parsifal, Kundry's backstory is that of the Wandering Jew. Unfortunate Implications regarding her character abound in this religious-themed work.

Video Games

  • Bridgette Tenenbaum from BioShock (series) is presumably Jewish, as she has a Jewish name and was a prisoner at a Nazi prison camp.
    • Ditto Sander Cohen.
      • Dr. Steinman has a rather Jewish sounding name. Andrew Ryan is clearly based on Ayn Rand, who was Jewish (but atheist) in real life and also, like Ryan, a refugee from Communist Russia.
  • Otacon from Metal Gear Solid has the surname Emmerich, and uses a little Yiddish in Metal Gear Solid 4.
    • Possibly references to Einstein; Otacon designed MG REX and his grandad was part of the Manhattan Project.
      • In Peace Walker, his father mentions how his father 'fled the Nazis before World War II', and while there's plenty of other reasons why people would flee the Nazis...
  • Rugal from The King of Fighters has the surname Bernstein.
  • Tora from the third Mega Man Battle Network might be Jewish. His name sounds like "Torah", he's obsessed with chess, another Jewish stereotype, has a Jew-fro, and he uses the word "kosher" once or twice in its slangy sense.
  • Not because of stereotypes, but the Hoenn region of the Pokémon games has a number of legendary Pokémon (which are, for the most part, an indication of the regions's mythology) which are based around Jewish mythology. Kyogre and Groudon, which are based on the Leviathan and Behemoth, respectively, as well as the Regi trio, based on golems, lead one to believe that the denizens of the region practice a rough equivalent of Judaism.
    • This might make Rayquaza the Ziz.
  • Telltale's Sam and Max Freelance Police games have mentioned Jewish things like "Matzah" and "Seder" before, and they live in New York. The existence of hell and the devil in the series makes this ambiguous, however.
  • Professor Layton has the first name Hershel, an extremely uncommon name among goyim, let alone British people. It would also explain his insistence on Never Bareheaded.
  • Though it's strictly Wild Mass Guessing, many fans speculate that the Medic from Team Fortress 2 may be Jewish: he was alive in Germany at the time of WWII, but Word of God confirmed isn't a Nazi.
    • A German intellectual with Semitic features born in the 1920s or 30s with no Nazi affiliation? Three strikes, Doc.
  • The Baron of Hollywood in Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines is named Isaac Abrams, and he both owns a jewelry store and is a major (albeit secret) player in the film industry.
    • The Tremere primogen, Maximillian Strauss, also has a fairly Jewish-sounding name.

Web Original

  • In Red vs. Blue, either Church or Tex is probably Jewish considering their funeral. Of course, since they're both AI, it probably isn't all that important to them.
  • May I present Jew or Not Jew.
  • As seen here on This Very Wiki.
  • Stephen Fry is openly gay and Jewish.
  • Dude, so is half of Hollywood. Well, maybe they're not openly Jewish.
  • Jewish? He's an atheist.
    —o To many, "Jewish" can be a culture as much as or more than a religion.
  • Stone, a former member of the titular hero team in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, was played this way. It was eventually confirmed by his player that he was a non-practicing Jew whose family name was originally "Stein" until his immigrant father changed it in order to "be more American". And his first name, which had never been revealed in nearly ten years of stories, turned out to be "Herschel".
  • Rick Finklestein of Bowser's Kingdom. He has the German last name, the accent and got in an argument with Paul Hammerbro in episode 10 over how to eat bagels.
  • Lackadaisy Cats gives us a frigid psychopath named Mordecai Heller. This is a markedly Jewish name, especially considering the time period.
  • The German general in Humon's post-WWI "American in Berlin" series was eventually revealed to be named Benjamin. After people criticized her for giving him a Jewish name, she responded by asking when she said he wasn't.

Western Animation

  • Almost every character in Drawn Together has exemplified Jewish stereotypes; several of them know Hebrew song lyrics and the entire cast celebrated Hannukah. This is most likely just another way of making fun of Jews, however, given the nature of the show. It's Self-Deprecation, too, since the creators are Jewish. The show would every now and then parody how Jews frequently parody themselves in Hollywood. Yeah, this gets meta.
  • Zoidberg from Futurama. He fulfills many, many Jewish stereotypes but is never exactly confirmed.
  • Jay Sherman from The Critic is played by a Jewish actor, and the character has any number of jewish-seeming manurisms. However, as a baby, he was adopted by parents who are rich, white, stereotypical Protestants, which would make him Protestant as well. Duh. However, when presented with the posibilty of finding his birth-mother, he expressed hope that she was Jewish, which, as previously noted, would make him Jewish as well. Verdict: Borderline Jew. according to: Jew or Not Jew.
    • In that same episode when he asked the man at the adoption agency if he was Jewish the man replied, "Oh, what do YOU think?"
  • Hades in Disney's Hercules. He has a tendency to say "Oy Vey" when aggravated.
  • Regular Show: There aren't too many Gentiles named Mordecai.
  • Fish Hooks: Bea Goldfishberg? Also, her best friend Oscar is incredibly neurotic, and sports a "Jewfro."
  • Walter Wolf on Animaniacs talks with an Alter Kocker accent and has thrown a few "meshuggenehs" around. On that note, Slappy Squirrel has used the term "bubbeleh" at least once and sarcastically said that she thought that a bird on Skippy's head was a new yarmulke. Probably Big Applesauce again.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head from the Toy Story series have to have gotten that Yiddish accent from somewhere.
    • Interestingly, potatoes are a common Jewish food at Hanukkah time - if you're Ashkenazi. If you're Sephardi, you'll probably have rice instead.
  • Filbert in Rocko's Modern Life is Woody Allen in turtle form.
  • The Wheezers in Jimmy Neutron both look and behave like stereotypical Jews and Carl's mom has a Jewish accent.
  • Melman the giraffe in Madagascar gives off strong Woody Allen vibes.
  • The main family on Birdz has the last name Storkowitz. They also have huge noses/beaks, which are even referenced as such more than once.
  • The Belchers on Bob's Burgers are voiced mostly by Jewish actors (Kristen Schaal being the odd woman out) and their dialect has a Yiddish-y cadence to it. On the other hand, mother Linda has referred to her First Communion, and the restaurant is pretty far from Kosher.
  • On Hey Arnold!, Harold came off this way before it was confirmed by a Bar Mitzvah episode. Also, Eugene has the last name "Horowitz" and Sheena can at least recognize Hebrew at a glance.
  • Many Daria fans think that the title character's surname, "Morgendorffer," sounds Jewish, though Word of God says that that isn't intentional. The same is true of Tiffany Blum-Deckler, who is Asian despite her commonly-Jewish last names.
  • Mr. Poopybutthole on Rick and Morty; his wedding photos show what's clearly a Jewish ceremony. However, his house has no Jewish items or symbols, and he does not follow a kosher diet.