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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

The Rod Carew of ________

Rod Carew's Jewish connections are well known. Less well known, but discussed following his death in May, was Little Richard's connections to Judaism, which include not working or attending parties on Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah. (H/T: Spencer Waller).

So, who are the Rod Carews (Rods Carew?) of other fields? Looking for someone who is not Jewish, adopts Jewish practices, and is widely but erroneously believed to be Jewish.

Have at it.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 9, 2020 at 09:31 AM in Howard Wasserman | Permalink


Ringo’s stepfather, Harry Graves, definitely was Jewish; Ringo seems to have had a close relationship with him. It’s been speculated that Ringo’s mother had at least some Jewish ancestry.

Posted by: RQA | Jun 11, 2020 12:35:25 PM

Robin Williams is good. Funny, and I know stupid, but I never thought of Ringo because he's British.

I did not realize Orbach was only half Jewish. Aside from Briscoe, his most prominent role is probably Dr. Houseman in Dirty Dancing.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 10, 2020 7:04:15 PM

Does doing comedy count as "adopts Jewish practices"? Seth Meyers.

Posted by: Howard Katz | Jun 10, 2020 3:48:33 PM

Lennie Briscoe. I remember this coming up in the Law & Order episode in which the racist lawyer played by Chris Cooper accuses him of having acted improperly toward a client because he was Jewish, and Lenny responds from the stand that he was raised Catholic. In fact, Jerry Orbach had a Jewish father, but his mother was Roman Catholic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lennie_Briscoe

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Jun 10, 2020 1:52:32 PM

Robin Williams. He did lots of Yiddish inflected shtick.

Ringo Starr. Starr is a common Jewish name, the English translation of Stern. And his real name is Starkey, also common among Jews, meaning "strong" (shtark) in Yiddish.

Posted by: Steven Lubet | Jun 10, 2020 1:16:34 PM

Former New Jersey governor and senator Jon Corzine, who started with Jewish-sounding first and last names. He also sported a beard, lived in a Jewish suburb of New York City, worked his way to the top of Goldman Sachs, and remained politically active and liberal after he got rich, so he was frequently believed o be Jewish. Actually an Italian-American who grew up on a family farm in downstate Illinois.

Norman Jewison also had the advantage of a Jewish-sounding name without being Jewish. He claimed that he was hired as director of "Fiddler on the Roof," and then "Jesus Christ Superstar," because producers on both projects believed that they needed Jewish directors, for rather different reasons.

Posted by: arthur | Jun 10, 2020 8:04:09 AM

The colleague who suggested this game said Madonna cannot be included because she was full of crap.

Myers is a good call. So could Bob Odenkirk (Jewish family, Jewish-seeming, playing one of the great quasi-Jewish TV characters).

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 9, 2020 11:15:17 PM

In music, there could be a draw between Madonna (who studied Kabbalah) and Elvis (who wore a Chai), but she would win the Rod Carew tie because Elvis actually had a Jewish grandmother.

In politics it would be Hillary Clinton, who brought up her Jewish step-grandmother in her first campaign for the Senate in New York.

Of course, no one thinks the above people are Jewish, so the actual winner, in the category of acting, would be Mike Myers, who created a memorable Yiddish speaking character on SNL, and who even has a Jewish-sounding name. Mike's wife is Jewish, as was Carew's, and Myers has been known to describe himself as Jew-ish, which is appropriate.

Posted by: Steven Lubet | Jun 9, 2020 7:38:59 PM


I wasn't able to respond to previous post you made about George Floyd/police brutality, and I think the comments are closed over there. Not trying to hijack this post, and would be happy to post a comment if you want make a new post. But I struggle to understand what will be considered a satisfactory reform by both the left and the right, so I wanted to get your take. I think you mentioned eliminating qualified immunity (I cannot view the comments any more to confirm). Would that be sufficient? It also seems like eliminating police unions would be necessary, since often it is the police unions that are directly responsible for bas actors being allowed to keep their jobs.

Is it necessary to take a more extreme position to defund or "abolish" the police as is being pursued in Minneapolis?

Posted by: TJM | Jun 9, 2020 5:47:12 PM

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