18 Things to Know About Jewish Actress Aya Cash

The actress behind Rabbi Rachel in "The Floaters" has a Hebrew-inspired tattoo.

In 2023, I wrote up a timeline of the hottest rabbis in pop culture for Hey Alma. This list included the likes of Ben Stiller as Rabbi Jake Schram, Sarah Sherman as Rabbi Rebecca and Daveed Diggs as Rabbi Marshall Zucker. However, I’ve always intended it to be a living document. (May there always be hot rabbis on TV and in movies, amen!) As soon as Adam Brody’s charming rabbi Netflix rom-com series drops, I’ll add him to the list. When “Between the Temples” is theatrically released, Jason Schwartzman’s Cantor Ben Gottlieb will become a member of the Hot Rabbi Canon.

And when “The Floaters,” an upcoming Jewish summer camp comedy debuts, its Rabbi Rachel (played by Jewish actress Aya Cash) will be included as well.

In the meantime, here are 18 things to know about Aya Cash.

1. She was born on July 13, 1982 in San Francisco to a Jewish father and a Catholic mother.

2. She’s a Cancer.

3. Aya has a lot of notable relatives! Her mother Kim Addonizio is a poet and writer, and her maternal grandmother is tennis champion Pauline Betz. Her maternal grandfather is American sportswriter Bob Addie. Plus, her Jewish Dad is also a Buddhist Priest.

You can listen to her talk about how cool her parents are here:

4. According to Aya, her last name was originally something like “CH-irsch.”

5. Star Trek played a role in Aya becoming an actress!

“I was watching ‘Star Trek: Next Generation’ around age 12 and I turned to [my dad] and I said, ‘I’m going to do that some day. And he said he actually sort of stopped in his tracks because I was so serious and so clear that that’s what I was going to do,” Aya told Collider. She went on, joking, “And he maintains that that was about acting and I maintain that that was about space travel.

6. She was raised “in a very not strict temple” and had a bat mitzvah, but chose not to continue attending synagogue after that.

7. Aya has a tattoo with a very interesting and Jewish backstory.

When she was 18, her mom took her to get a tattoo of a hawk. Aya chose this because a Hebrew baby naming book had told her parents that Aya meant “hawk” in Hebrew. However, when Aya visited Israel she learned that Aya actually means “honey buzzard” or “ouch” in Hebrew.

8. Aya graduated from the San Francisco School of Arts and received a BFA from the University of Minnesota.

9. She waitressed for years after graduating to make ends meet.

It’s a combination of naiveté, hubris and having good artists around you, a good supportive community,” Aya said of what kept her going during that time. “I would call a teacher from the Guthrie when I was having a particularly bad day. Or I’d reach out to friends of mine who were struggling with similar things and were maybe a little further ahead.”

10. The first time Aya willingly ate a vegetable was at the age of 22!

11. She married director, producer, and writer Josh Alexander in 2012.

12. From 2014-2019 Aya played Gretchen on the FX show “You’re the Worst.”

13. The A.V. Club said that Aya Cash in “You’re the Worst” was “the best TV performance of 2015.”

“It’s a performance that expertly calibrates humor and tragedy, never too cartoonish to leave an emotional impact, never too maudlin to co-exist alongside comic misadventures involving frozen sperm, a ‘money slave,’ or improv classes,” A.V. Club wrote. “She tugged at heartstrings with basic expressions of gratitude (“You stayed!”), tore her loved ones to hilarious shreds (“I mean, everyone feels sorry for kids forced to work in the diamond mines in Sierra Leone, but where is the telethon for the noble writer?”), and did a shitty job of spying on her “Losing My Edge” neighbors — and every minute of it was compelling.”

14. On the Prime Video show “The Boys,” Aya played Klara Risinger aka Stormfront aka Liberty. Watch her get into makeup for Stormfront here:

15. Aya is done auditioning for roles which belittle women.

“When you get an offer to go in for a giant movie with amazing people, and it’s a part that’s denigrating to women, it’s hard to say no because you think, ‘I should do this for my career.’ But I just don’t want to live my life that way anymore,” she told Elle.

16. In 2022, she was a clue in the New York Times’ crossword! In an interview with Drew Barrymore, Aya said that being in the crossword was a dream come true.

17. She’s narrated quite a few audiobooks!

18. Aya won’t be the only Jewish actor in Jewish summer camp comedy “The Floaters.” The production will also star Sarah Podemski, Jackie Tohn, Seth Green, Maxwell Jacob Friedman and more!

Evelyn Frick

Evelyn Frick (she/they) is a writer and associate editor at Hey Alma. She graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. In her spare time, she's a comedian and contributor for Reductress and The Onion.

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