Celebrity Jews

Gilsig and Gitelman

On Jan. 29, Jessalyn Gilsig, 36, joined the cast of the hit NBC show, “Heroes,” as the mother of teenage “hero” Claire Bennett (Hayden Panettiere). Gilsig, a very pretty actress who co-starred on TV’s “Boston Public” and “Nip/Tuck”, will appear in a fairly large “arc” of “Heroes” episodes this season.

Gilsig was born in Montreal, the daughter of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. She grew up celebrating some Jewish holidays. In 2005, she married Jewish producer Bobby Salomon in a Jewish wedding and the couple had a daughter last September. Salomon, Gilsig says, was the “cool guy” (quarterback of the football team) in their Montreal high school, and they briefly dated in high school. He called her when he moved to Hollywood in 2002 and their friendship soon became a renewed romance.

On Feb. 19, “Heroes” will introduce Israeli character Hana Gitelman, a new “hero.” Hana’s grandmother fought the Nazis and her mother fought in the Six-Day War. Both were killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack, which Hana survived. Playing Hana is actress Stana Katic, who I don’t think is Jewish in real life.

Spotlight on Ashley

Ashley Tisdale, 20, co-starred in “High School Musical,” the hit Disney movie and touring stage show, as “nasty girl” Sharpay Evans. (The movie’s soundtrack was America’s best-selling CD in 2006).

Besides “High School Musical,” Tisdale is best known for playing the “much nicer” Maddie Fitzpatrick on the current Disney TV series, “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.”

Tisdale was born in New Jersey and her first stage appearances were in musicals put on at the Monmouth County (N.J.) Jewish Community Center. She was signed by an agent when she was just 3 years old, and sang at the White House when she was 12.

Last summer, Tisdale returned to the Monmouth JCC to do a benefit for the international JCC Maccabi Arts Fest, an arts program open to Jewish teens ages 13-16 (for more info: www.jccmaccabiartsfest.org).

Ashley’s first solo album, “Headstrong,” is being released this month, and she’ll appear in “High School Musical 2,” which will air this summer.

Ashley’s mother is Jewish and her father is not Jewish. Ashley’s great-aunt was kind enough to inform me that Ashley “definitely identifies as Jewish” and that the family attends High Holy Day services at a Los Angeles area synagogue.

Who wants to be a designer?

The new Bravo series, “Top Design,” is another “occupational reality/game show.” In this one, talented young interior designers are presented with a weekly “design challenge” and vie to be judged the best. They will compete over the course of 10 episodes, with the winner snatching up $100,000 in cash, a new car, and a profile in a design magazine. (Began Wednesday, Jan. 31, with new episodes each Wednesday at 10 p.m. Reruns all week long.)

One of the judges is well-known Jewish designer Jonathan Adler, who is most famous for his “Mod” decorative ceramics and textile designs.

Pudding winners

Thespians Ben Stiller and Scarlett Johansson are this year’s recipients of the famous Hasty Pudding awards, given by Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the country’s oldest university drama club.

The award is given to performers who have made “a lasting and impressive contribution to entertainment.” Johansson, the Hasty Pudding “Woman of the Year,” will lead a parade through Cambridge, Mass., on Thursday, Feb. 15, then attend a roast in her honor. “Man of the Year” Stiller will be similarly feted Feb. 23.

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.