Jewish Characters of Color!

A couple days ago I was daydreaming about the day we’ll finally get a sit-com about Jewish Latinxs, and that led me to wonder if there were any other Jewish Latinxs (or Jewish characters of color in general) going around. Thanks to @s4karuna/@online_muse‘s amazing researching skills, the list grew from a couple characters to this compillation.

 

Jewish Characters of Color in Television

  • Simon Lewis in “Shadowhunters” (Freeform, 2016-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Shadowhunters” on [Netflix].
    • The character is Jewish in book-canon, in the show the character (and his mother) are both played by Latinxs and the show makes Simon’s judaism an integral part of his character.
    • Leading character.
  • Phillip Goldstein in “Fresh off the Boat” (ABC, 2015-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Fresh Off The Boat” on [ABC.Go.com].
    • Chinese, adopted by Jewish parents and raised Jewish.
    • Shows up in two episodes (s01e08 and s01e11).
  • Rufus Turner in “Supernatural” (The CW, 2005-hopefully cancelled soon)
    • Black and Jewish, the character is revealed to be Jewish when he says he doesn’t want anyone “sitting shiva when [he] died”. He was buried in a Jewish cemetery when he died.
    • Was a recurring character during seasons 3, 5 to 7 and 11.
  • Cindy Tova Hayes in “Orange Is The New Black” (Netflix, 2013-?)
    • Black, she converts to Judaism in Season 3 and adopts the Jewish name Tova.
    • Regular character.
  • Timothy L. Finger in “No Tomorrow” (2016-?)
    • Indian and Jewish.
    • Regular character.
    • The actor is, indeed, Indian and Jewish.
  • Tina Cohen-Chang in “Glee” (FOX, 2009-2015)
    • The character is Chinese-Jewish, though it was never specified in-show.
    • Jenna Ushkowitz is actually Korean-Jewish.
    • Main character (though often sidelined).
  • Jake Puckerman in “Glee” (FOX, 2009-2015)
    • Black-Jewish. Judaism is a big part of the Puckerman brothers’ identities.
    • Main character from season 5 onwards.
  • Dean Levine-Wilkins in “The Good Wife” (CBS, 2009-2016)
    • Black and Jewish.
    • Recurring character.
  • Sidney in “Galavant” (ABC, 2015-2016)
    • You can watch “Galavant” on [ABC.Go.com].
    • Black, adopted and raised by a Jewish family.
    • Main character.
  • Max Bergman in “Hawaii Five-0” (CBS, 2010-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Hawaii Five-0” on [CBS].
    • Japanese, was adopted by a Jewish family.
    • Main character.
  • Isidore Latham in “Chicago Med” (NBC, 2015-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Chicago Med” on [NBC].
    • Black and Orthodox Jewish.
    • Recurring character in season 2.
  • Sammy Jones in “The Nanny” (CBS, 1993-1999)
    • Black and Jewish, he was Fran’s step-father and practiced Judaism along with his wife and step-daughter.
    • He cameo’d in a couple episodes.
  • Mona Thorne and Phyllis Thorne (daughter and mother) in “Half & Half” (UPN, 2002-2006)
    • Black and Jewish.
    • Rachel True, who plays Mona, is Black and Jewish!
    • Mona is a leading character, Phyllis is a main.
  • Cristina Yang in “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 2005-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on [ABC.Go.com].
    • Korean and Jewish. Christina’s step-father is Jewish, and she was raised in Judaism. Though she is an atheist, she described herself as Jewish at a couple points during the show.
    • Main character since the beginning of the show, left in season 10.
  • Rainbow Johnson and Johan Johnson (sister and brother) in “Black-Ish” (ABC, 2014-currently airing)
    • You can watch “Black-Ish” on [ABC.Go.com].
    • Black and Jewish. They mention living in a kibbutz (Israeli agriculture-based community).
    • Both Tracee Ellis Ross and Daveed Diggs are Jewish. The actor who plays their dad, Beau Bridges, seems to have Jewish ancestry.
    • Rainbow is a leading character and Johan is recurring.
  • Isabella García-Shapiro and Vivian García-Shapiro (daughter and mother) in “Phineas and Ferb” (Disney, 2007-2015)
    • You can watch “Phineas and Ferb” at [DisneyXD].
    • Mexican-Jewish. Isabella’s mom looks more obviously Latina, but she speaks with a Yiddish accent. The García-Shapiro family observe Chanukah and they had an episode dedicated to a “Mexican-Jewish Cultural Festival”.
    • The voice actress for Vivian is Puerto Rican and, from what I found on Google, she seems to be Jewish.
    • Isabella is a main character.
  • Francine Frensky in the “Arthur” cartoon (PBS, 1996-2012)
    • Black and Jewish, the family observes Judaism.
    • Main character.
  • Ziva Davis in “NCIS” (CBS, 2003-currently airing)
    • The character is Israeli Jewish but played by a (white passing?) Chilean actress, which could easily make her a Latina Israeli. Her being Jewish and Israeli is a central part of her character.
    • Regular character from season 3 until season 11.
  • Juan Epstein in “Welcome Back Kotter” (ABC, 1975–1979)
    • Puerto Rican Jewish.
    • The actor is neither Latinx nor Jewish.
    • Main character.
  • Pam in “Will and Grace” (NBC, 1998-2006)
    • Iranian & Mizrahi Jewish.
    • Cameo.
  • Nwabudike Bergstein from “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix, 2015)
    • Black, raised by his adoptive Jewish family.
    • Main character.
  • Scott in “Son of Zorn” (Fox, 2016-currently airing)
    • Guatemalan-Jewish, he mentions celebrating Hanukkah.
    • Main character.

 

Jewish Characters of Color in Books

  • All the main characters in the “Mangoverse” series by Shira Glassman are LGBTQ+ and Jewish, and some are characters of color. [author’s tumblr]
  • Alex-Li Tandem (Jewish-Chinese) from “The Autograph Man” by Zadie Smith. [amazon]
  • Tara Feinstein (Indian-Jewish) from “My Basmati Bat Mitzvah” by Paula J Freedman. [amazon]
  • Nazira Mualdeb and her family (Syrian-Jewish) from “The Perfumes of Carthage” by Teresa Porzecanski. The book is part of a series called “Jewish Latin America”. [amazon]
  • Emily (Jewish-Puerto Rican) from “Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa” by Micol Ostow. [amazon]
  • The narrator and her family (Indian-Jewish) from “The Walled City” by Esther David. [amazon]
  • Ruthie Mizrahi (Cuban-Jewish) from “Lucky Broken Girl” by Ruth Behar. [amazon]
  • Yumi Ruiz-Hirsch (Cuban and Jewish-Japanese) from “I Wanna Be Your Shoebox” by Cristina García. [amazon]
  • Chloe Leiberman (Chinese-Jewish) from “Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong)” by Carrie Rosten. [amazon]
  • Kana Goldberg (Japanese-Jewish) from “Orchards” by Holly Thompson. [amazon]
  • Frances (Japanese-Jewish) from “Black Mirror” by Nancy Werlin. [amazon]
  • Dave Caros (Turkish-Sephardic Jewish) from “Dave At Night” by Gail Carson Levine. [amazon]
  • Mahboubeh Malacouti (Iranian-Jewish) from “The Girl from the Garden” by Parnaz Foroutan. [amazon]
  • Higgs Boson Bing (Chinese-English Jewish American) from “The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How Ruin Your Life in Seven Days” by Lisa Yee. [amazon]
  • Desta (Ethiopian Jewish) from “The Return” by Sonia Levitin. [amazon]
  • J from (Puerto-Rican Jewish) from “I Am J” by Cris Beam. [amazon]
  • Violet Paz (Polish-Jewish and Cuban) from “Cuba 15” by Nancy Osa. [amazon]
  • Pablo (Mexican-Jewish) from “Jalapeño Bagels” by Natasha Wing. [amazon]
  • The main family (Black-Jewish) in “Always an Olivia” by Carolivia Herron. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “Day of Delight; A Jewish Sabbath in Ethiopia” by Maxine Rose Schur. [amazon]
  • Elan (Jewish-Native American) from “Elan, Son of Two Peoples” by Heidi Smith Hyde. [amazon]
  • Isobel (Mexican-Jewish) from “Hanukkah Moon” by Deborah Da Costa. [amazon]
  • Joey Sexton (Black-Jewish) from “Stealing Home” by Ellen Schwartz. [amazon]
  • The writer (Black-Jewish) of “The Colour of Water” by James McBride. [amazon]
  • Noah (Black-Jewish) from “A Turn for Noah: A Hanukkah Story” by Susan R. Topek. [amazon]
  • The family (Mexican-Jewish) from “Abuelita’s Secret Matzahs” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. [amazon]
  • Natalie (Black- Jewish, also disabled) from “Bluish” by Virginia Hamilton. [amazon]
  • The protagonists (Ethiopian-Jewish) from “Daughters of the Ark” by Anna Morgan. [amazon]
  • Reyna (Chinese-Jewish) from “Reyna And the Jade Star” by Robin K. Levinson; part of the “Gali Girls” series. [amazon]
  • Shoshana (Brazilian-Jewish) from “Shoshana and the Native Rose” by Robin K. Levinson; part of the “Gali Girls” series. [amazon]
  • Rahel (Ethiopian-Jewish, also blind) from “The Storyteller’s Beads” by Jane Kurts. [amazon]
  • Zack Lane (Black-Jewish) from “Zack” by William Bell. [amazon]
  • The writer of “Black, White & Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self” by Rebecca Walker. [amazon]
  • Ronnee (Black-Jewish) from “Half a Heart” by Rosellen Brown. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Black-Jewish) of “Oreo” by Fran Ross. [amazon]
  • The family (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “When I Left My Village” by J. Brian Pinkney. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Ethiopian-Jewish) of “On Wings Of Eagles” by Micha Feldman. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Black-Jewish) of “Nappy Hair” by Carolivia Herron. [amazon]
  • Avi (Israeli-Jewish) from “Snow in Jerusalem” by Deborah Costa. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Moroccan-Jewish) in a reversion of Cinderella titled “Smeda Rmeda Who Destroys Her Luck with Her Own Hands” by Haya Bar-Itzhak. [jstor]
  • The protagonist (Yemeni-Jewish) of a fairy tale called “The Mute Princess“. 
  • Coleman Silk (Black-Jewish) from “The Human Stain” by Philip Roth. [amazon]
  • Mona (Chinese Jewish convert) in “Mona In The Promised Land” by Gish Jen. [goodreads]
  • Oscar Khan (Indian-South African Jewish convert) from “Kafka’s Curse” by Achmat Dangor. [amazon]
  • The characters (Ethiopian-Jewish) in “The Moon is Bread” by Naomi Samuel. [amazon]
  • The Ermosa family (Israeli Sephardic Jewish) from “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” by Sarit Yishai-Levi. [amazon]
  • The protagonist (Indian-Jewish) from “Book of Rachel” by Esther David. [amazon]
  • The writer (Indian-Jewish) of “Burnt Bread and Chutney: Growing Up Between Cultures” by Carmit Delman. [amazon]
  • The family (Mexican-Jewish) in “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende. [amazon]

Also, check out this [list of Indian-Jewish novels] and this [list of non-fiction books about Jewish PoC] that @s4karuna found.

 

Jewish Characters of Color in Movies

  • The Prince of Egypt” (USA, 1998). [imdb]
  • Live and Become” (France, 2005) is about Ethiopian Jewish folx. [wiki]
  • Eyes Wide Open” (Israel, 2009) is about two Israeli men of color falling in love. [wiki]
  • Gramophone” (India, 2003) is about an Indian-Jewish family. [imdb]
  • The Rabbi’s Cat” (France, 2011) is an animated film about Jewish Algerians. [wiki]
  • You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” (USA, 2008) has Moroccan Jewish actress Emmanuelle Chriqui. [imdb]

And @s4karuna found this [list of Black Jewish films] that premiered at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and this [list of films and videos for multiracial Jewish folx].

 

Jewish Characters of Color in other media

  • Zatanna Zatara (Jewish-Rromani) from DC Comics’ “Bombshells”.
  • Suki Leiber (Japanese-Jewish) from the comic “Goofyfoot Gurl”. [amazon]
  • Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Jewish Rromani) from Marvel Comics.
    • Technically Wanda’s children, by virtue of being twins and her kids, should also be Jewish-Rromani, but only Billy is ever acknowledged to be Jewish and none of them have their Rromani heritage acknowledged in comic.
  • Jamie Wellerstein from [this production] of “The Last Five Years” is Black and Jewish.

 

Characters of color that might be Jewish

  • Meyer Wolfshiem in  “The Great Gatsby” (2013)
    • The novel says that he’s Jewish and he’s played by an Indian actor in the film so he could technically be seen as Indian Jewish.
  • Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton: An American Musical” (2016)
    • Alexander Hamilton has Jewish roots and is played by a Puerto Rican actor in the original production and always by actors of color. The real Hamilton’s Jewish connection was because of his stepfather and it’s possible that his mom was Jewish. It’s sure he was educated in a Jewish school, maybe because he couldn’t go to Catholic school because he was illegitimate. 
  • Edna Mode in “The Incredibles” (2004)
    • She’s part Japanese and she was based on Jewish designer Edith Head.

 

You can see an extended and always updating list here:

 

A million thanks to @s4karuna for being the best researcher known to humanity and finding so many awesome media, and also to @binoctis, @apolloniae, @bnckybarnes, @redravensunrise, @femmefareeha, @margueritelareine and @devenircyborg for their amazing additions.