Celebrity Jews

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‘Big Love’ star’s moving speech

Ginnifer Goodwin, 35, has compiled quite a list of credits in the last decade: She has been the co-star of two hit TV series (Margene on “Big Love” and Mary on the still-airing “Once Upon a Time”) and has co-starred in several hit films, including “Walk the Line” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.” In November, she will co-star as Jackie Kennedy in a film about the last years of John F. Kennedy and Jackie.

Born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., Goodwin was active in BBYO and took her bat mitzvah seriously enough that she delayed it until her 15th birthday, when she felt she had truly studied enough.

Ginnifer Goodwin

Two months ago, she stood before her hometown congregation, with her family in the audience, and noted that she sadly had long fallen away from Judaism. She said, “For 10 years, there was nothing. No ritual. No tradition. No community. I was this new alone thing, a nomad in the world. I was homeless.”

However, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported, “In recent months, Goodwin has been reclaiming old patches of ritual, tradition and community, and receiving new ones. She wants to live in a Jewish home with a mezuzah in every doorway. She wants to raise her ‘completely hypothetical future children’ to be Jewish. She hosted a Hanukkah party. She’s made brisket and matzah ball soup. She realized that a lot of her friends are Jewish. ‘We’ve been shul shopping’ [in Los Angeles] … ‘I am a Jew,’ she said, beaming on the bimah. ‘It took me 10 years to come back around to that self-definition. I was a Jew by birth, and now I’m a Jew by choice.’”

Postscript: Goodwin’s speech was posted on YouTube; enter “Ginny Goodwin speaks at Temple Israel.” The speech is a more profound and moving exploration of Judaism and Jewish identity than the newspaper account had led me to believe. The rabbi’s preface to her speech and his memories of the young Goodwin are part of the 25-minute video.


Sequel to ‘Grown Ups’

Maya Rudolph

The 2010 movie “Grown Ups” was killed by critics. But it made big bucks, so now there’s “Grown Ups 2” (opening Friday, July 12). The sequel stars (again) Adam Sandler, 48, as a Hollywood agent who moves back to his sleepy hometown with his wife and kids.

This film may hold the record for most famous Jews in one movie. In order of role size, here’s the list: Jake Goldberg, 17, and Cameron Boyce, 14; Maya Rudolph, 40; Rob Schneider, 49; Jon Lovitz, 55; Halston Sage, 20; Oliver Hudson, 36 (Goldie Hawn’s son); Allen Covert, 48; former Berkeleyites Andy Samberg, 34, and Akiva Schaffer, 35; Norm Crosby, 85; model Erin Heatherton, 24; Brad Grunberg, 46; J. Geils rock band members Peter Wolf, 67, Danny Klein, 68, and Richard “Magic Dick” Salwitz, 68.

The huge cast even includes Sandler’s wife, Jackie, 38, and their daughters Sunny, 5, and Sadie, 7.


On James Gandolfini

Like everyone else, I was shocked and saddened when James Gandolfini died on June 19 at age 51. He was born and raised in a New Jersey Italian Catholic family, but he had Jewish connections. Here’s one: He was introduced to acting when his college friend, Tony-winning actor Roger Bart, 50, finally convinced Gandolfini (who was running a bar at that time) to accompany him to a New York City acting class. The rest, as they say, is history.

Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

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