Is Justin Bieber Jewish? Is Natalie Portman’s fiancee, Benjamin Millepied, Jewish? Based on my Web research, neither one is Jewish. However, there are many people wondering these questions and doing what curious people do in the Digital Age — turning to Google.
There are two components to blogging I enjoy most. First, I love writing. Second, I love looking at the analytics to see through which portals visitors have arrived at my blog. Looking at the referral statistics, there is an overwhelming number of Web surfers who are referred to my blog after inquiring about a celebrity’s faith; specifically, whether they are Jewish.
While Jewish people may only account for less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, we have provided society with a vastly disproportionate number of celebrities — from actors and musicians to authors, producers and directors. No, Jews don’t own Hollywood in the antisemitic canard conspiracy theory way, but there are certainly a lot of “Members of the Tribe” in Hollywood.
When celebrities do the things that only Jewish people have traditionally done, everyone wants to know if they are Jewish or just playing the part. For instance, Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) has been embraced by Madonna, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, and Brittany Spears, but none of them were born Jewish or have converted to the faith. Robin Williams does a great Yiddish accent on stage while telling Jewish jokes, but he’s an Episcopalian. The former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson has announced plans to open a kosher restaurant, but converted to Islam. The French dance choreographer Benjamin Millepied will marry the Israeli Natalie Portman, with Israeli roots, but he doesn’t appear to be of the Jewish faith.
And though the teen pop sensation Justin Bieber is not Jewish, he has a ritual of saying the most important statement to the Jewish people before each of his concerts. It turns out that his agent, Scott “Scooter” Braun, taught Bieber the “Shema Yisrael” and now the 16-year-old says those Hebrew words (in addition to a Christian prayer) before taking the stage.
It’s human nature to try and know as much as we can about our celebrities. So, it should come as no surprise that fans are curious as to whether Bieber’s Jewish or if Natalie Portman is marrying within the Jewish faith. After all, a person’s faith can be a private matter and as the National Enquirer has always said when it comes to celebrities, “Inquiring minds want to know.”