10 Jewish Pop Culture Moments That Made 2018

JTA — What a year it was for Jews in pop culture. We can probably say that almost every year, but truly, in 2018, Jewish celebrities permeated the zeitgeist. “The Band’s Visit” – a musical set in Israel — swept the Tony Awards. Timothée Chamalet became the internet’s boyfriend. We found out Drake was a dad. Jewish actress Rashida Jones had a (secret) baby with Jewish musician Ezra Koenig. There were outstanding seasons of “Schitt’s Creek,” “Big Mouth,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Fauda” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” all which feature Jewish protagonists.

We’ve culled through it all to bring you some of the best Jewish pop culture moments of the year. Things that qualified for this list include: a TV show, movie, musical, or song that deals with Jewish material or features a member of the tribe.

This list is by no means exhaustive. We encourage you to chime in and tell us what you think is worthy of mention.

1. Jewish actor Timothée Chalamet brought his mom to the Oscars, which was the absolute cutest. Chalamet ended up losing the Best Actor award, but he won our hearts.



2. The year of everything RBG. There’s so many points to emphasize here we’ll have to turn to bullet points.

The documentary “RBG” was so. damn. good. It featured her iconic dissents, her workouts, her love story with Marty, her nomination to the Supreme Court, and so much more.

Not on the big screen, but the first official biography of RBG was also released this year: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life” by Jane Sherron De Hart. De Hart told Alma about the deep impact Judaism had on RBG’s life.

Even if you have reservations about Felicity Jones’s accent and ability to play RBG, “On the Basis of Sex” — the biopic about Ruth Bader Ginsburg that tells the tale of the first case about sex discrimination that she won — is really, really good. (Even though there were no scrunchies.) (Also it was written by her nephew, which we love.) (And Armie Hammer plays Marty, which Ginsburg seems very pleased with.)

For the film “On the Basis of Sex,” Kesha wrote a song inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s great. Kesha explained why she took on the job: “It was amazing to see Ginsburg’s story of leading a campaign that successfully changed laws that discriminated against Americans purely on the basis of their sex, as the film title suggests.”




....and then this happened!

A post shared by Armie Hammer (@armiehammer) on


3. The HAIM sisters dressed as the Sanderson sisters for Halloween. An iconic crossover: our favorite Jewish sisters dressed as our favorite witchy sisters (two of which are played by Jews: Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler.) Also they helped raise money for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh by donating a portion of sales from their merch store.



4. Two nice Jewish boys got engaged at a Troye Sivan concert in October. Troye joyously shouting “mazel tov!” at Radio City Music Hall to Judah and Daniel, the newly engaged couple, made our entire year.

40. Sarah Silverman received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and called out anti-Semitism while she was at it. “You know, in a scary time when anti-Semitic crime is up 57% since 2016, it’s not lost on me how lucky I am to be given a star and not have to sew it on my clothes,” Silverman said, referring to the yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. “I’m not sure if that’s gallows humor, or it’s funny cause it’s true humor.”

5. Katrina Lenk, the star of “The Band’s Visit,” was a genderbent Tevye for the “MisCast Gala,” where Broadway actors and actresses play roles that they would never be cast in. Katrina – who despite not being Jewish made multiple appearances on our best of 2017 list — singing “If I Were a Rich Man” while playing the fiddle and ending the song with “If I were a wealthy woman” is just so good. A true talent.



6. In a year of secret babies, Rashida Jones and Ezra Koenig‘s secret baby wins. (Is there a competition? Now there is!) We wrote a comprehensive timeline of their relationship, but let’s talk about the baby. Rashida and Ezra welcomed their son Isaiah in August. Mazel tov!

7. In August, two movies that dealt with anti-Semitism debuted. We’re grouping them together even though they are very different, because we want to keep this list to 50 things:

“Operation Finale” is about the capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Alma spoke with Nick Kroll about his role in the film. He said, “Obviously, there’s a rise again in anti-Semitism — but also racism and xenophobia, right-leaning fascists, and totalitarian regimes around the world. There continue to be genocides and Holocausts to this day … it’s our responsibility not only to never forget, but to do our best to never let it be repeated, to Jews or to anyone around the world who is being discriminated against or terrorized for who they are.” Amen, Nick!



8. Barbra Streisand shared a New York Magazine cover with Ethiopian Jewish activist Naomi Wadler. It’s an amazing photo.

9. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season 2. It’s arguably the most Jewish show on television, and season 2 did not disappoint. (Although, disappointingly, Zachary Levi — who plays a very handsome Jewish doctor — is not a Jew.) There were major Jewish moments: from a plot line about the little-known Jewish holiday Tisha B’av, to an episode centered on Yom Kippur, to a joke about the Mi Sheiberach prayer. It was all very Jewish.



10. Disobedience,“ the Orthodox Jewish lesbian romance film starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, premiered this year. Based on Naomi Alderman’s novel of the same name, it got a lot right (and a few things wrong) about Orthodox Jewish communities, but we truly loved it for its portrayal of queer Orthodox Jews. And Rachel Weisz! We adore Rachel Weisz!!! (She was also amazing in The Favourite!)

List adapted from JTA

Pop Culture


Join The Discussion

Blueprint Calendars