In Honor of The Fringe: My Top 10 Jewish Entertainers

This is a guest post by Emily Cutts, a student at the University of Minnesota
In honor of the Minnesota Fringe Festival and all the Jewish actors, directors and writers involved, I have pulled together a list of my ten favorite Jewish entertainers. In no certain order here they are!
Winona Ryder – She may not be my favorite but we have to give respect to a Minnesota Jew. Born in Winona, Minnesota as Winona Horowitz she went on to star in films like Beetle Juice, Little Women and Mr. Deeds. She had a brief run in with the law in 2001 but it seems that Ryder is back on the right track.
Paul Rudd – Funny man and friend of Jewish director Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd has been making us laugh for years. Whether it was in his role as Josh in Clueless or Mike Hannigan (Phoebe’s husband) on Friends, where he briefly changed his name to Crap Bag. He even has done a few shows on Broadway.
Christopher Guest – Even though Guest had no religious upbringing being born to Jewish parents qualifies him to be on this list. Guest is known for his mockumentaries like This is Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind and Best in Show. He was also on Saturday Night Live in the ‘80s. Guest has also directed a Super Bowl commercial.
Sarah Silverman – She specializes in a special kind of wildly offensive humor where no topic is off limits. Her movie Jesus is Magic and her shortly lived television show The Sarah Silverman Project highlight her comedic stylings. She created a Jewish PSA urging young Jews to get their grandparents in Florida to vote for Barack Obama. To top it off, Silverman once graced the cover of Heeb.
Bill Nye – Or as I like to refer to him, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Nye is responsible for teaching hundreds if not thousands or millions the joys of science. In his blue lab coat and bow tie, Nye is still used today in classrooms, at least I hope so. Not only does he love science, he also loves the environment. He even holds a patent for ballet shoes!
Woody Allen – Although I don’t necessarily agree with his decision to marry his ex-wife’s adopted daughter, Woody Allen has made a large impact in the entertainment industry. Born to an Orthodox family and a Yiddish speaker, Allen has written such films as Annie Hall and Vicky Christina Barcelona. He has also starred in countless films.
Keri Russell – Russell taught me what college would be like through the show Felicity. I learned that it’s okay if you talk to yourself as long as you do it with a tape recorder and no one else hears it. She also taught me that it is okay to follow a boy you barely know across the country for school. Russell has also starred in August Rush and Waitress but to be honest, I just really love Felicity.
Natalie Portman – She’s Israeli, she attend a Jewish Day school, and is a talented actress. What more could you ask for? (although sometimes it may be difficult to remember if you are watching Natalie Portman or Keira Knightly)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt – He is just so dreamy it is hard not to like him. But seriously, JGL has had quite a varied career from television (Third Rock From the Sun) to films ((500) Days of Summer, Inception) and beyond. He also owns an online production company called
Oscar Hammerstein – Ellen, one of our readers selected him for the Fringe Ticket giveaway and although she didn’t win, she eloquently explained why he was her favorite. “Reason one: his fantastically popular musicals: The Sound of Music, Flower Drum Song (okay, not as popular), Oklahoma, The King & I, and South Pacific being my favorites. Reason two: He bucked convention by addressing social/ethical issues in his musicals, way way way before this was a politically correct concept. Reason three: Hammerstein was highly respected as a person.”
(Photo credits: Arte & Fotografia, Seattle Municipal Archives, Wikimedia Commons)