Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Life

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.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

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.