The Schmooze

Paul Rudd Defends Bar Mitzvahs and Explains His Own Judaism

As his new superhero film “Ant-Man and the Wasp” flies into theaters, Paul Rudd has still found time to process his Jewish upbringing with fellow Jew and comedian Marc Maron.

Rudd appeared on Maron’s acclaimed podcast, “WTF with Marc Maron,” and not too far into the conversation, Maron admitted to the classic move we know all too well at the Schmooze: searching a celebrity’s “Wikipedia” page for evidence of their Jewish identity.

From this admission onwards, Rudd and Maron’s conversation becomes nothing less than a side-by-side comparison of their Jewish childhoods. Both growing up in New Jersey — Rudd in Passaic, Maron in Jersey City. Rudd’s declaration, at one point in the episode, of his Jewish identity in the phrase “if you are you are” creates a great sense of symmetry between the Hollywood star and a large number of the American Jewish population. He highlights the way of cultural Judaism that remains steadfastly central to American Jewish lives, despite varying levels of religious practice.

Despite stating that he “never was raised very religious”, Rudd evidently found a large part of his early life influenced by Jewish culture. He commented that there was “always a Hitler documentary on in the house”, (something many of us can relate to), and that his father was “very pro-Israel”.

Whilst Rudd may not be a practicing Jew, he proudly addresses the innate feeling he possesses of his Jewishness, evident in his insistence on his son’s recent Bar Mitzvah ceremony. On the topic, Rudd comments “there is something to be said about participating in something that is thousands of years old, that gives you a sense of sanity and something continued.” In one comment Rudd perfectly articulates what, for many people, it means to be Jewish: to be a part of an everlasting tradition and to be reminded of the community you come from.

When listening to this podcast, the Schmooze felt a great sense of pride in having Rudd, a person who so publicly takes ownership of his Jewish identity and recognizes the importance of it in shaping him, as part of our community. It may not be enough to make us go see “Ant Man and the Wasp,” but we’ll be in the front row for the upcoming film “The Cather Was A Spy,” where he’ll star as Moe Berg, a Jewish baseball player who joins the World War II effort as a spy.

Nicola Lewis is a summer intern at the Forward, writing for the life section. You can reach her at Lewis@forward.com

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Paul Rudd Defends Bar Mitzvahs and Explains His Own Judaism

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