Lawrence Sher, Double Feature Films
Any doubts that Zach Braff’s new movie, “Wish I Was Here,” centers on his Jewish identity evaporate into thin air the second the film’s dog barks. “Kugel!”
The dog’s name is only one of the many Jewish elements in the movie, which tells the story of Aidan Bloom (Braff), a struggling actor who decides to home school his two children when his father (Mandy Patinkin) stops paying the tuition fees for their yeshiva after being diagnosed with cancer.
The film, which also stars fellow tribe members Kate Hudson and Josh Gad, marks Braff’s return to directing a decade after the cult indie success of “Garden State.” And just like his first film showed Braff mining his home state of New Jersey for inspiration, “Wish I Was Here” allows him to come to terms with his Jewish upbringing.
The Forward’s very giggly Anne Cohen and Anna Goldenberg caught up with Braff in his suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, in New York City, to ask him about growing up in a kosher home, falling asleep in Hebrew school and his most embarrassing bar mitzvah moment.
Anne Cohen and Anna Goldenberg: You grew up in a Conservative home in New Jersey. What was your bar mitzvah theme?
Zach Braff: My bar mitzvah, embarrassingly enough, was musical theater themed. I knew I wanted to be an actor as a kid, and while all the other kids were having their bar mitzvahs themes be, like, sports and all these jockey things, I was like, “No, mine will be Broadway musical theater.”