To say that 2022 has been an interesting time to be Jewish would be an understatement. Continued violence against Jewish communities, like the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas and the July 4th shooting in Highland Park, rocked the Jewish world. Even pop culture this year was rife with antisemitic scandals like the “Stranger Things” Nazi prison and Holocaust tattoo controversy, Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose in “Maestro” and, of course, everything Kanye West has said over the last four months.
But, in spite of it all, there’s also been a lot of Jewish joy in the world, and specifically in pop culture. Of course, we aren’t suggesting that exciting moments of Jewish pop culture are a complete antidote to antisemitism, or even carry the same weight as the terrible moments of Jew-hatred this year. However, as we close out 2022, it’s seems more than appropriate to remind ourselves, and you, that this year wasn’t all bad. In fact, there were moments that were downright wonderful.
Team Hey Alma — Editor Molly Tolsky, Associate Editor Chloe Sarbib, Editorial Assistant Evelyn Frick and Audience Engagement Associate Avital Dayanim — put our heads together to pick our top 12 Jewish pop culture moments of the year, highlighting one amazing moment from each month. All completely and utterly subjective, of course. Without further ado, these are the Jewish moments that made us smile in 2022:
1. In January, actor Andrew Garfield complimented fellow Jewish Brit Ben Barnes on being “a very handsome, talented man.” The comment came in an interview with Entertainment Tonight where Garfield revealed that he was nearly cast as Prince Caspian in the “The Chronicles of Narnia” but lost out to Barnes because he wasn’t “handsome enough.” (Insert sobbing emoji.)
Andrew Garfield was *nearly* cast as Prince Caspian in 'The Chronicles of Narnia'—but was told he wasn't handsome enough. 🤨 pic.twitter.com/j3qQKydblj
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) January 10, 2022
It quickly went viral online, with many on Twitter rightly pointing out that 1) Andrew Garfield is so handsome and 2) we should not be pitting these two extremely beautiful Jewish Brits against one another!!!
2. In February, Brett Goldstein had the best. day. ever. The British Jewish “Ted Lasso” star took to social media to reveal that he had filmed an episode of “Sesame Street,” fulfilling a lifelong dream of his to work with the Muppets. The episode, which will air during the 2022-2023 season of the show, will apparently feature Brett hanging out with Oscar the Grouch and teaching the “Sesame Street” gang the f-word. (Which is “fairness,” duh!)
Bonus: Brett’s day on “Sesame Street” took home the Reader’s Choice Alma award for best Jewish pop culture moment of 5782!
3. In March, Russian Jewish “Late Night with Seth Meyers” writer Dina Gusovsky shared an important (and hilarious) message about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Watch for yourself:
Thank you, Dina. Her point that the ongoing conflict is “Putin’s war” is such a necessary reminder, especially for the Ashkenazi Jews who have made their homes or trace their roots back to the former Soviet Union.
4. In April, “Recipe For Change: Standing Up to Antisemitism,” premiered, and the special on antisemitism was just as star-studded as it was moving. Seriously, check out this cast list: Idina Menzel, Ilana Glazer, Rachel Bloom, Skylar Astin, Michael Twitty, Hannah Einbinder, Alex Edelman, Tommy Dorfman, Josh Peck, Hari Nef, Michael Zegen and more! Debuting just in time for Passover, the special featured the Jewish celebs discussing how antisemitism has affected them, ways to combat it and, most importantly, Jewish joy. Eight months later, it still serves as a great model for any Jew or ally to discuss antisemitism with those close to them.
5. In May, Sunny Sandler, daughter of Jewish jokester Adam Sandler, had a very sweet bat mitzvah! The party, which took place at LA’s Hillcrest Country Club, appeared to have been candy-themed and full of Hollywood’s finest. In short, it was absolutely the bat mitzvah of the season:
bat mitzvahs >>
6. In June, our beloved Ms. Elizabeth Greer “Beanie” Feldstein became engaged to her girlfriend Bonnie Chance Roberts. An Instagram post (posted by Beanie) marked the occasion, and revealed the moment Bonnie popped the question. It’s truly so adorable.
As editorial assistant Evelyn Frick wrote at the time:
“Of course, no engagement is complete without a party! The Instagram post also reveals a small get-together after the proposal that included Beanie‘s parents, her nephews and her brother Jonah Hill — as well as fellow Jewish celebrity power couple Ben Platt and Noah Galvin. Jewish actress Molly Gordon was also in attendance.”
Mazel tov, Beanie and Bonnie!!
7. In July, Noam Atzil, a contestant on the reality dating show “FBoy Island,” said the Shabbat blessings on TV! Before the elimination ceremony in episode four, Noam, wearing a kippah and holding a siddur, or prayer book, recites either an abridged or edited-in-post kiddush for a few of his fellow “FBoy” contestants. After pouring a glass of wine, Noam passes the cup around and says a blessing over the challah. Unfortunately, Noam was promptly eliminated and revealed to be an “FBoy.”
Double unfortunately, shortly after season two aired, “FBoy Island” was dispatched to the big Nice Guy Grotto in the sky — aka, it was cancelled. While the show will no longer be able to give us anymore deliciously Jewish moments, we still have a lot to be grateful for. (Who else remembers Hey Alma’s interview with season one contestant Israeli Dimri?!)
So don’t cry because “FBoy Island” is over, smile because it happened. May its memory be a blessing.
8. Speaking of reality dating shows, in August, nice Southern Jewish boy Jason Alabaster became a frontrunner for Gabby Windey’s heart on “The Bachelorette” and talked about mental health on national television!
Check out Jason and Gabby’s conversation on inner child work here:
While the pair would go on to break up, Jason later spoke to Hey Alma about his journey on the show, his Jewish identity, and whether or not he believes in bashert.
9. In September, Jewish filmmaker and actress Dylan Seders Hoffman brought us “Yiddish Mean Girls,” a short film which recreates the iconic four-way phone call scene from the 2004 cult classic movie in the Ashkenazi Jewish language. Starring Dylan and three of her cast mates from the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, “Yiddish Mean Girls” is everything you want it to be. There’s the seamless, authentically pronounced dialogue; the extremely Yiddishkeit soundtrack; the incredibly fun performances, especially by Maya Jacobson, who so expertly captures Karen’s energy; the more fleshed-out Jewishness of Gretchen Wieners, who famously had to give up a pair of white gold hoops she got for Hanukkah; and, of course, the spinning wheel of Jewish treats.
You simply have to watch the film here:
Dos iz azoy shtots! Translation: That is so fetch!
10. In October, it was Ariel Elias’s month. First, the Jewish comedian went viral on social media for perfectly handling a drunk heckler.
Then, the clip caught the attention of Jimmy Kimmel, who promised to let Ariel make her late night debut on his show. A few weeks later, Jimmy made good on his word and Ariel delivered a tight five minutes of stand-up on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and the set was perfectly Jewish:
11. In November, Amy Schumer hosted “Saturday Night Live” and gave us the Jewish joy we absolutely needed. In response to all the unabashed antisemitism that had begun proliferating in American pop culture, Amy took a dig at Kanye West in her monologue, starred in a sketch about matzah ball soup and wore a shirt that read “❤️ Jews” during goodnights. While comedian Dave Chappelle would host the next week and bring his own antisemitism to the show, Amy’s message remains meaningful, loud and clear.
12. In December, Mariah Carey wished us all a Happy Hanukkah!
From the popping out of nowhere to the elongated “Shaloooooom,” this whole video was a lovely surprise from the Queen of Christmas herself. We might just require a Mariah Carey greeting for all other Jewish holidays — just imagine what she would do for Tu Bishvat.
Here’s to 2023!