We may be living in the age of the “extreme makeover,” but the trajectory of cheerleader-turned-rebbetzin Sandy Wolshin could give even the splashiest of today’s reality TV shows a run for their money. A few years ago, Wolshin was wearing hot pants and twirling pom-poms for football’s Los Angeles Raiders. In the years since, she has embraced Orthodox Judaism and married a rabbi. But she hasn’t lost her knack for performing. In August, she is taking her hit one-woman show, “The Rabbi and the Cheerleader” — “a true life comedy of faith and spirit” — from L.A. to New York, and there are plans in the works for a Florida engagement, too. The Shmooze recently caught up with Wolshin (who when not onstage goes by the name Elianah Rochel Mendlowitz and runs a Jewish dating service) for a chat about marriage, hair and the Raiderettes.
The Shmooze: Is your show a lesson in Judaism, or is it more about the laughs?
Sandy Wolshin: It’s a combination. It’s a modern Jewish Cinderella story — with shtick and dance. All Jews from different levels of observance enjoy my show, that’s the neat thing. And people who are not Jewish, because it’s an inspirational show.
TS: Do you miss your life as a Raiderette?
SW: Here’s the analogy: For a guy, there’s nothing like a game of pickup basketball, and there never will be a substitute. I was on a professional dance squad; we rehearsed 40 hours a week, and it was a great workout. And I do get together for Raiderette reunions. Now I compensate by taking dance classes. When I do a show, sometimes two shows a day, I’m getting a great workout.
TS: Has your look changed at all from your cheerleading days? Are you still blond, or do you sport more of a Jewish look?
SW: There are a lot of Jewish girls who are blond. I’m a natural blond every time I come home from the hairstylist. I definitely still have a cheerleader look.
TS: What’s your favorite thing about what you’re doing now?
SW: I am having a blast. I am doing what I love. I really believe that Hashem gives us all gifts. For us to be able to use our gifts and make a living is the most beautiful blessing that I have received. I was raised an atheist, and had lots of questions, and ended up meeting God. God guides you.
TS: Does your husband come to many of your shows?
SW: Oh yes, and he’s the biggest laugher.
This story "From Raiderette To Aleph-Bet" was written by Sara Rubin.