Boris Kodjoe? Lauren London?: Black People You Didn’t Know Were Jewish
The holidays are right around the corner, but should you be wishing “Merry Christmas” to everyone? Before you get to your celebrity Christmas card list, better cross these Jewish celebrities off.
When the NBA star’s mother told him about his family’s Jewish heritage, Amar’e immediately wanted to know more. He traveled to Israel to learn more about Jewish culture and even got a Star of David tattooed on his hand, sometimes wears a yarmukle, and even speaks a little Hebrew.
Maya Rudolph also gets her heritage from the music industry. Her mother is famous soul singer Minnie Ripperton and her father is a composer, songwriter and Ashkenazi Jew.
Dancehall king Sean Paul’s real name is Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques. And he shaes his last name with another famous Jewish-Jamaican: 17th century pirate, Moses Cohen Henriques.
Sean gets his Jewish heritage from his grandfather on his father’s side, a descendent of the Spanish and Potuguese Jews who fled the British Caribbean during the Spanish Inquisition.
We all know that Quincy Jones is Rashida’s father. But did you know that her mother Peggy Lipton is an Ashkenazi Jew (and Mod Squad star). Growing up, Rashida even went to Hebrew School. But even though she dropped out at age 10, she practices Judaism today.
The ATL star’s mother is black, but her father is Jewish.
Tracee Ellis Ross
The Gilfriends star has two famous parents: African-American singer Diana Ross and Jewish music business manager Robert Ellis Silberstein.
Lisa Bonet’s mother isn’t actually Claire Huxtable. It’s Arlene Litman, a Jewish woman — from San Francisco not Brooklyn.
View this post on Instagram
A viewer asked us if she could watch our 1998 interview with actress Nell Carter. We found it and added to our new website at SIDEWALKSTV.COM. Such an amazing talent. Really nice interview with her. She passed away in January 2003. #actress #NellCarter #inmemoryof #tribute #remember #flashback #GimmeABreak #Ain’tMisbehavin #honor #late#neverforgotten #online
The Gimme A Break! star converted to Judaism in 1982 when she married Jewish mathematician George Krynicki.
Boris’ grandmother is Jewish, but he says that early on his mother taught him that they should “find our own way based on many different religions, that there were many different doctrines but that they all had the same purpose.” And Boris says he’s using that same philosophy with his own kids, exposing them to “many different ideas and philosophies, so they can find their own way.”
Sammy Davis Jr.
Malcolm X found Islam in jail. Sammy Davis Jr. found Judaism in the hospital. In 1954 while recovering from a car accident almost took his life, the famous singer began studying Judaism after being “impressed” by the Jewish Chaplain at the hospital.
After recovering, Sammy says he found a new calling — and a deeper level of minority.
He once told TIME magazine, “Talk about handicap–I’m a one-eyed Negro Jew.”
Rapper Shyne did follow in Brother Malcolm’s footsteps and found his religious path while serving 10 years for attempted murder and changed his name to Moses Michael Levi. But it wasn’t just inspiration that turned Shyne to Judaism. He says his grandmother’s Jewish heritage inspired his change of faith.
Lenny’s famous mother Roxie Roker — who played Helen Willis on The Jeffersons — gets a lot of press. But fewer people know that Lenny Kravitz’ father is a Jew who traces his roots back to the Ukraine.
Lenny says his mother encouraged him to remember his heritage saying,”You are just as much white as you are black, just as much Russian Jew as you are African-American.”
OK, everyone knows that Drake was born to an African-American father and a Jewish-Canadian mother. But did you know that he looked this adorable at his Bar Mitzvah?