Skip To Content
The Schmooze

Why ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ Is Every Jewish Family Ever

For the better part of a decade, my family’s Thanksgiving morning ritual began with someone popping our worn-out “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” DVD into the DVD player. The movie looped throughout the day as we cooked, with the bickering of Maria Portokalos and Aunt Voula mimicking the sounds of my mom and aunts as we argued for counter space in the kitchen. By early afternoon, someone would make the 100th comment of the day about how similar Greek music is to Georgian music. And finally, when we sat down to dinner —  with the movie still on — the hilarity of my family beat out any of the ridiculousness we so loved in our Greek counterparts.

Gus Portokalos’s obsession with the “healing” powers of Windex aside, we were convinced the Portokalos family was all of us.

View post on

It’s been 13 years since the movie was released, turning into a true word-of-mouth hit before viral was even a concept. The hit earned an Oscar nomination and a special place in my heart forever. So when I found out there would be a sequel, I penciled the March 25, 2016, opening day as a national holiday on my calendar.

It’s a testament to writer and actress Nia Vardalos’s talent for writing a script so witty, yet so true to life, that every ethnic family finds some way to relate to it. Jewish, Georgian, Indian — you name it, everyone sees themselves in the doting, loving, in-your-face nosiness of the Portokalos clan. But for Jews in particular (and in my case, Georgian Jews) the movie hits close to home.

They show love through food? Check.

View post on

They want you to find yourself a good boy or girl to marry? Check.

View post on

“We don’t think you heard us. Make us grandparents NOW!”

View post on

They have their roots in the classic American story of hard working immigrant parents wanting the best for their children without them losing touch with their heritage? Check.

View post on

The first generation’s anxiety and panic-ridden fear at the prospect of disappointing their parents? Check, check, check.

View post on

Some of my favorite memories with my own family has been spent with the Portokalos family and by Thanksgiving next year, we’ll have a second film to watch on loop in the Efrem home.

And if the first DVD is too scratched, it’s okay, we’ll put some Windex on it.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

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.