Celebrity Jews

‘Jewper’ Bowl Sunday

Idina Menzel, 43 (“Frozen”), will sing the national anthem when the Seattle Seahawks play the New England Patriots for the NFL title on Sunday, Feb. 1. By chance, Boston has all of the big Jewish connections. The team’s longtime owner, Robert Kraft, 73, is an observant Jew whose many charitable projects include the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem and support of the Israel Football League (which plays American-style football). His son Jonathan, 50, is president of the Patriots.

Nate Ebner

Meanwhile, on the field, the Patriots have the only Jewish player in the championship game: Nate Ebner, 26, a safety who carved out a solid place on the roster with outstanding special-team play. His late father was the Sunday school principal at the family’s Ohio synagogue. Also worthy of note: The Patriots’ famous quarterback, Tom Brady, who was born and raised in San Mateo, is the brother-in-law of now-retired Red Sox star Kevin Youkilis, 35. “Youk” is married to Brady’s sister. As for Patriots’ wide receiver Julian Edelman, he has a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. The Pats’ press office says he was raised Christian, although in a 2013 interview Edelman referred to himself as Jewish — but that may have been merely a tongue-in-cheek, jokey comeback to a question about Christmas presents.

On TV, but also super

Carrie Brownstein

Seattle native Carrie Brownstein, 40, is one busy artist. Her hit IFC show “Portlandia” began its fifth season in January. Guest stars include Jeff Goldblum, 62, Vanessa Bayer, 33, Paul Simon, 73, Natasha Lyonne, 35, and Paul Reubens, 62 (aka Peewee Herman). Brownstein also moonlights as a recurring Jewish character on the hit Amazon show “Transparent.” On top of all this, SleaterKinney, the Portland-based feminist rock band that brought Brownstein fame in the ’90s, has reunited with its first new CD since 2006 (“No Cities to Love”) and soon begins a live tour. Brownstein and the other band members (Janet Weiss, 49, and Corin Tucker) were interviewed on Jan. 16 by their self-identified fans Ilana Glazer, 27, and Abbi Jacobson, 30, stars of the hit Comedy Central series “Broad City,” which is in its second season. You can listen to this serious conversation on NPR.

Update: As previously noted, the Bravo series “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” premiered to good reviews. Abby and Jake McCarthy, played by Lisa Edelstein, 49, and Paul Adelstein, 45, are the lead characters. With a name like “McCarthy,” it was reasonable to assume they weren’t a Jewish couple. Well, in the Dec. 19 episode, the “divorcing McCarthys” discuss their kids’ religious upbringing at a court mediator’s office. We learn that Abby is Jewish and Jake is the Jewish-raised son of a non-Jewish mother and Jewish father. In short, while they have big problems, they really have no quarrel about raising their kids Jewish.

Genevieve Angelson

In the new Fox series “Backstrom,” Rainn Wilson stars as Det. Lt. Everett Backstrom, a smart Portland police detective who annoys everyone with his “unfiltered” mouth. By his side is Det. Nicole Gravely, who tries to counterbalance Backstrom’s irritating behavior. She’s played by Genevieve Angelson, 28, a relative newcomer. Her father, Mark Angelson, 63, is a top businessman, attorney, and former deputy mayor of Chicago. One of her sisters, Meredith Angelson, 32, is a New Orleans–based staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which fights racism and anti-Semitism. Meredith’s husband, Nathaniel Rich, 34, is a successful novelist and the son of writer Frank Rich, 65. (The couple belong to a New Orleans synagogue). Nathaniel lived in San Francisco for a couple of years to research “San Francisco Noir” (2005).


Nate Bloom

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