Jews in the News: Idina Menzel, Jeff Goldblum and Adam Sandler

Super Sunday: Jewish Connections

The Seattle Seahawks play the New England Patriots for the NFL championship on Sunday, Feb. 1 (NBC; kick-off at 6:30 EST).  By chance, Boston has all the big Jewish connections: the team’s long-time owner, ROBERT KRAFT, 73, is an observant Jew whose many charitable projects include the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and support of the Israel Football League (which plays American football). His son, JONATHAN, 50, is president of the Patriots. Meanwhile, on the playing field, the Patriots have the only Jewish player in the Bowl: NATE EBNER, 26, a safety who carved-out a solid place on the roster with outstanding special team play. His late father was the Sunday school principal at the family’s Ohio synagogue.  Also worthy of note: the Patriots’ famous quarterback, Tom Brady, who played college ball for Michigan, is the brother-in-law of now-retired Red Sox star KEVIN YOUKILIS, 35. “Youk” is married to Brady’s sister and the couple has a son.

By the way, Patriots wide receiver Justin Edelman has a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother and the Pats’ press office says he was raised Christian.  In a 2013 interview, Edelman referred to himself as “Jewish”, but that response may be a tongue-in-cheek jokey comeback to a question about Christmas presents. (The reporters were hoping, as a Christmas present to them, that he would fully answer their questions---unlike Pats’ coach Bill Belechik. If you saw Belechik’s “deflated footballs” press conference—as usual he was stingy with his answers).

On the sidelines: IDINA MENZEL, 43, who has unexpectedly become almost a household name due to her voice role and singing in the mega-hit “Frozen,” will sing the National Anthem. The half-time entertainment is being provided by Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz. Perry has resumed her on-and-off romance with singer JOHN MAYER, 37, a ladies’ man who is the son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. In recent years, he has said things like he is “attracted to Judaism.” Kravitz has the same background as Mayer, except he opted decades ago to be a “non-denominational Christian.” Nice to note: Kravitz did attend the March 18, 2014 White House ceremony in which his namesake, Pvt. LEONARD KRAVITZ, his father’s brother, was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during a Korean War battle that cost him his life.

AL MICHAELS, 70, will be in the broadcast booth calling his ninth Super Bowl as the play-by-play announcer. In March 2011, Michael accompanied Robert Kraft and Kraft’s wife, MYRA, to Israel to visit the Kraft Family Stadium, which is the home to three teams in the Israel Football League (Myra died of cancer a few months later). Last November, Michaels’ autobiography, “You Can't Make This Up: Miracles, Memories, and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television,” was published. It’s full of interesting sports anecdotes.

In the Arts

Seattle native CARRIE BROWNSTEIN, 40, is one busy artist. Her hit IFC show, “Portlandia”, began its 5th season on Jan. 8. Guest stars this season include JEFF GOLDBLUM, 62, VANESSA BAYER, 33, PAUL SIMON, 73, and NATASHA LYONNE, 35. Brownstein also moonlights as a recurring Jewish character on the hit Amazon show, “Transparent.” On top of all this, Sleater-Kinney, the Portland-based all-woman, feminist rock band that made her famous in the ‘90s, has re-united with their first new CD since 2006 (“No Cities to Love”) and soon begins a live tour. The band is Brownstein, JANET WEISS, 49, and Corin Tucker.

MIKE BINDER, 56, is the director and writer of “Black and White,” which stars Kevin Costner as the grandfather of a bi-racial girl who vies for custody of the child with the girl’s African-American grandmother (Octavia Spencer). Binder, who also acts, has a mixed record as a filmmaker. Two of his better films are “The Upside of Anger,” which also starred Costner, and “Reign Over Me”, in which ADAM SANDLER, 48, gave a good dramatic performance as a guy emotionally destroyed by the deaths of his wife and daughters in the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers.  (Opens Friday, January 30).

Also opening on the 30th is Project Almanac”. It’s about a brilliant high school student (Johnny Weston) who uncovers, along with his friends, plans for a time machine. The machine may put their lives in danger. Co-stars include SAM LERNER, 22, who has been acting steadily since he was 11. In a recent profile, it was noted he worked in his acting career while going to school and Hebrew school and he that acted in plays at his synagogue.


Add Comment