Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Is Olympic Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Jewish?

(JTA) — All eyes are on skiing wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin this week at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The 22-year-old American is favored to win gold medals in slalom and giant slalom — those technique-heavy events in which skiers glide and weave between poles or gates (as opposed to the downhill and super-G categories, which are considered more straightforward “speed” events). She is also a contender in the combined event, which involves both slalom and downhill runs.

All of this comes after her appearance in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, where she won gold in the slalom event at age 18. Oh, and she has also already won the skiing World Championships three times dating back to 2013.

In addition to her seemingly limitless talent, the bubbly speedster has a surname not uncommon in the Jewish community. According to this German research company, Shifre is a Yiddish female name that means beautiful, and Shiffrin — with the Slavic -in ending — means “ancestor of Shifre.”

So could this Shiffrin be a member of the tribe?

The short answer: not really.

Mikaela is the daughter of Eileen (née Condron) and Jeff Shiffrin, who are both former ski racers. Mikaela’s grandfather on her father’s side was Jewish, but that tradition wasn’t passed down. The New York Jewish Week reported in 2014 that the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said Shiffrin has “some very distant heritage [but] is not connected to the Jewish community.”

However one takes that tidbit, it won’t detract from what should be a thrilling series of Olympic performances from the impressive athlete.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.