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Surprise! They’re Jewish.

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Last week, we looked at famous people often misidentified as Jews.  Due to either a self-serving bias or a buy-in to modern Jewish stereotypes, we claim the likes of Stephen Colbert and Joy Behar as co-religionists.  In the same vein, we are often surprised when we find out that famous people who lack that Jewish je ne sais quoi are, in fact, members of the tribe.  These are the top celebrities that, believe it or not, are actually Jewish.

Drake

That’s right, the Grammy-nominated, BET award-winning Canadian rapper is Jewish.  Born Aubrey Drake Graham to an African American father and a Jewish Canadian mother, Drake had a bar mitzvah and went to a Jewish day school “where nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish,” he told Heeb Magazine.  As it turns out, MTV was more understanding.

Heidi Fleiss

The infamous “Hollywood Madam” who made headlines in the early 1990’s for running a lucrative prostitution ring in Los Angeles is really just a nice Jewish girl.  The ring, which is said to have attracted famous and wealthy clients, landed Fleiss in jail for three years.  Today, she is making the rounds on celebrity reality television shows such as Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and Celebrity Big Brother in the United Kingdom.

Roseanne Barr

TV’s “Domestic Goddess” of middle America is known for her raunchy humor, her Midwest accent, and her lovely singing voice (Johnny Carson compared her rendition of The Star Spangled Banner to the sound of his cat being neutered), not her religious background.  But indeed, the She-Devil was born to a Jewish family in Salt Lake City.  The name Barr was adapted from Borisofsky by her paternal grandfather, and her maternal grandmother was Orthodox.  But living in Salt Lake City meant some compromises.  “Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning I was a Jew; Sunday afternoon, Tuesday afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon we were Mormons,” Barr wrote in her 1989 book My Life As a Woman.                                                                                                   

Amy Winehouse

The 27-year old British, bee-hived vocalist and tabloid headliner is equally known for her innovative songs and substance abuse problems; references to her “pipes” could just as easily conjure her vocal chords or drug paraphernalia.  Yet, the bad girl with the pin-up tattoos, soul style and Marilyn Monroe mole piercing was born to Mitchell and Janis, a Jewish couple in north London.  Not everyone is surprised to hear that Winehouse is Jewish.  Referencing her Semitic-looking visage, Sarah Silverman once quipped, “She is Jewish, right? If she isn’t, someone should tell her face.”

Winona Ryder

The child-star turned shoplifter turned come-back kid was born Winona Laura Horowitz in Minnesota.  Does her affection for Goth roles or the scandal of her shoplifting episode in 2001, which led to a multi-year hiatus from the spotlight, dissociate us from her Jewish roots?  Who knows.  But in Mermaids, one of her earliest films, Ryder’s character is obsessed with the Virgin Mary and Catholic prayer, only to be gently reminded by her mother (played by Cher), “Charlotte, we’re Jewish.”                                                                                               

Andrew Dice Clay

You may not recognize the name Andrew Clay Silverstein as the foul-mouthed comic who was banned from MTV for life, but that’s what he was called until launching his comedy career in the late 1970’s.  Clay is known for his naughty nursery rhymes, which precipitated the MTV ban in 1989, and his misogynistic rants; no wonder Jews are in no rush to claim him!

Suze Orman

Susan Lynn Orman, once listed by Forbes as one of the Most Influential Women In Media, can help you get your financial life on track, work through those bills, make those good investments. But the New York Times best-selling author and CNBC host could also tell you how to make the best damn Reuben you’ve ever tried; her parents, Ann and Morry Orman, Russian and Romanian Jewish immigrants to Chicago, still run a deli in Hyde Park.                                                                                          

Pope Benedict XVI

Although you might think the current leader of Catholicism is a goy….just kidding, of course he is.

Moment Magazine, the nation’s largest independent Jewish publication, was founded by Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein and re-launched in 2004. Visit us at http://www.momentmag.com, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
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