From NFL Pom Poms to the Comedy Stage

By Nathan Burstein

Published January 06, 2010, issue of January 15, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Here’s one you haven’t heard before: A National Football League cheerleader converts to Orthodox Judaism, writes herself a comedy and takes the production — pom-poms and all — on tour across the United States.

Rah Rah: Sandy Wolshin
COURTESY OF SANDY WOLSHIN
Rah Rah: Sandy Wolshin

Theatergoers in Arizona will be among the first to see the show, “The Kosher Cheerleader,” when it opens on January 9 in Phoenix. Booked for a two-week run at the city’s Center for the Performing Arts at Paradise Valley Community College, the one-woman comedy tells the real-life story of Sandy Wolshin, a former cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders who later immersed herself in a mikveh as part of an Orthodox conversion.

“A lot of people assume that as a cheerleader, you can’t walk and talk at the same time, let alone do comedy,” said Wolshin, who tumbled and cheered during five NFL seasons in the 1980s and ’90s.

Once a very blond “Raiderette,” Wolshin is now a very blond playwright and actress who wears a long skirt (but still manages to cartwheel) in her new show, and who doesn’t perform on Friday nights.

The daughter of a Russian Orthodox mother and a “practicing Jewish atheist” father, Wolshin didn’t find her way to Orthodox Judaism until after her professional cheerleading career ended, but she says that her father’s religious background helped her bond with other Jewish cheerleaders during her time in the NFL.

“We would make jokes,” she recalled, “about our relatives saying, ‘Cheerleading, shmeerleading. The owner’s wife, that’s the job for a Jewish girl.’”

Featuring expert pom-pom work, and shtick about Wolshin’s conversion, “The Kosher Cheerleader” will make its way to Florida in April for a one-week run at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse. Investors and a production team are currently being assembled for a summer staging in New York, Wolshin said.

With four kids and a Reform husband, the former cheerleader said she has “relaxed into Orthodox lite: half the guilt and twice the fun.”

“On the Sabbath, when we go to temple, he gets in the car and I walk,” she said, jokingly. “But he drives slowly so that we can hold hands.”

“The Kosher Cheerleader” isn’t Wolshin’s first foray into Jewish theater. She performed a different show, “The Cheerleader and the Rabbi,” at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2006, but says the new production isn’t based on the original material.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.