Jonah Hauer-King, Greg Sulkin and Nicolas Stoller

Nate Bloom blogs about this week's Jews in the News.

British Jews Fight the Nazis, Goosebumps, and Billions of Years


Back in 2019, I wrote a column item about “World on Fire” , a 7-episode British series that was about to air on PBS. Due to the pandemic, a second season was delayed for three years. The 2nd season (six episodes) begins airing on Sunday, Oct. 15 (9PM). You can catch the first season on the PBS app.

“Fire” is a sprawling WWII series that focuses on the personal stories of characters in many countries. However, the central character is Harry Chase. As the 1st series begins, Chase is an interpreter at the U.K. embassy in Warsaw. He later becomes a British Army officer and joins the SOE (the U.K. military equivalent of the CIA).

British actor JONAH HAUER-KING, 28, plays Chase. I wrote about Hauer-King last May when “The Little Mermaid” (live action) opened. He had the co-starring role (“The Prince”).

Hauer-King’s mother is an American Jew and his British father, I just confirmed, is not Jewish. The actor was raised Jewish and very much identifies as Jewish.

Another Brit, GREGG SULKIN, 31, has a big supporting role in the 2nd season. He plays David, a Jewish RAF pilot. (The first season went from early 1939 to July 1940. The 2nd season goes from July 1940 to May 1941. The infamous Nazi bombing “Blitz” on Britain began in May and the first major target was Manchester, where David is stationed). 

Sulkin, who had his bar mitzvah at the Wailing Wall, has a long list of credits, mostly supporting roles in films and TV shows for young people (Disney, etc.)

On Friday, Oct. 13, Disney+ AND Hulu premiere “Goosebumps”, a new animated (10-episode) series. As you may guess, it is based on the best-selling “spooky” stories, of the same name, for younger readers. The stories were written by R.L. STINE, 80. The first five episodes will “drop” on the 13th, with the last five being streamed weekly.

The TV series was co-written by NICOLAS STOLLER, 47, and he was the principal producer of the series. His most recent credit (May 2023) is “Platonic”, an Apple+ comedy series that he co-wrote with his wife, FRANCESA DELBANCO, 49.

Back in 2021, Netflix premiered a new film based on “Fear Street”, an adult horror novel series written by Stine. I wrote then: “Stine grew-up quite poor in a small town near Columbus, Ohio. He began writing in the early ‘70s, and soon he was a best-selling writer . His editor is JANE WALDHORN, his wife of 52 years. Stine says he and Jane have survived the pandemic in good spirts.”

Well, I am happy to report that the couple is “still here”. Stine turned 80 just last week.

Premiering on Wednesday October 4, was the first episode of the five-part PBS series “Nova: Ancient World.” The last four episodes premiere on successive Wednesdays. Check local listings for repeat airings, and the series is available, free, on the PBS app.

“Ancient World” covers, literally, billions of years in the Earth’s history. Episode one covers the development of the Earth’s atmosphere. Episode two covers the time that Earth was a frozen ball. The last three episodes cover life on Earth. The last episode explains how the Earth “evolved” and became amenable to human life.

The show’s publicity release says that the series “features interviews with scientists who radiate their passion for discovery and help to [explain] billions of years of intertwined biological and geological history.”

The same publicity release lists the scientists and the first name on that list is PHOEBE COHEN, 45. I thought: What’s her academic background and can I find out if she’s Jewish?

Cohen is an Associate Professor, Geosciences, at Williams College (Mass.). On the Williams’ website, it says: “In essence she studies tiny fossils to help reconstruct ancient organisms and ecosystems.” Cohen got her B.A. from Cornell and her Ph.D. from Harvard.

It wasn’t easy, but I found her parents. Her father is Dr. CARL COHEN, 77, a long-time expert in biomedical research and he's very familiar with the bio-tech industry. Her mother, SUZANNE LIEBERMAN COHEN, 77,is a licensed psychologist. The couple run a company that trains scientists in management skills.

I found Carl and Suzanne in the 1950 census and this not-ancient record reveals “very rapid upward profession evolution”. In 1950, Suzanne’s father was a custom tailor and Carl’s father was a gas station attendant. (On-line family obits confirmed that both Cohens are Jewish).


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