Claire Danes' (Sobering) Chabad Memories

Chabad Lubavitch is famous for their willingness to open their homes to Jews and non-Jews, including the goyische celebrities, such as Jon Voigt, who appear on Chabad’s West Coast telethon to cheerlead for the group. Sometimes, though, the encounters produce a more nuanced response — as is evident in actress Clare Danes’ memory of a Chabad Lubavitch wedding she attended in Brooklyn.

Danes’ tale is jammed into the last paragraph of an item in New York magazine about how little Danes knows about Brooklyn. The little she says about the wedding is remarkably evocative. She tells of how the event began on the sidewalk in front of someone’s apartment, presumably in Crown Heights, where Chabad is based.

“It was in February, and it was really cold and very, um, stripped down, the ceremony,” the star of the 1990s TV drama “My So Called Life” remembered.

From there, she says, the group moved to one of the nearby catering halls. The people “celebrated,” she said, “but the women and the men celebrated in separate rooms, and the women were not allowed to drink, and it was quite sad.”

Danes may have an opportunity for another encounter with Chabad when she plays Temple Grandin in an upcoming biopic about the autistic, animal-rights advocate. That is assuming the biopic covers Grandin’s extensive involvement in pushing the Chabad-owned, kosher meat company Agriprocessors to reform the way it treated its animals.

Like many budding young thespians, Danes had her shot at playing a young Jewess, in the 1997 film “I Love You, I Love You Not,”, but the film was panned and she hasn’t tried it again. In real life, Danes has lived in the more secular Jewish communities in Manhattan and Hollywood, and she showed how much she has learned about Jewish culture when she used some Yiddish to describe how out of place she was at that Brooklyn wedding.

“Shiksa did not belong, but shiksa was there,” she told New York magazine.

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