The Walt Disney company has been making movies for almost a century, and we still have yet to see a Jewish Disney princess. It’s not that there’s no Jewish representation at all in Disney films: Kronk is apparently a member of the tribe and Disney even published the henchman’s (henchmensch?) challah recipe. And Sarah Silverman valiantly argued that Vanellope Von Schweetz, the princess she voiced in “Wreck It Ralph,” is in fact Jewish. But it’s not exactly anywhere in the text of the movie.
Disney doesn’t get a free pass on their treatment of Jews either. Disney’s villains often seem Jew-coded, and no matter how awesome Mother Gothel’s hair is, seeing it associated with evil must be a lot for young curly haired Jewish kids to swallow. If Disney did this right, so many kids would have their lived experience reflected back onto them, whether it’s in a movie theater or even joining the other princesses on a backpack at Walmart.
I already know the perfect plot I would write if Disney let me make this movie: A girl works at her family’s Lower East Side appetizing shop, her friends are sentient everything bagels and salmon, and her central conflict is whether to keep with tradition or embrace the new and trendy rainbow challah and nutella babka. Rachel Bloom and Jack Antonoff will obviously collaborate on the score. I am truly deadset on writing this one day, but in the meantime, here are some Disney animated movie characters that just *feel* Jewish to me.
Without further aJew, here’s my list:
How could a robot from the future be Jewish? Well, isn’t wanting to save the earth from over consumption and climate change basically practicing tikkun olam?
from “Monsters Inc”
Voiced by Billy Thee Crystal, Mike’s got all the makings of a Jewish person, err, monster. He’s a short king, and a stand-up comedian!
Doc and Sneezy
from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”
Out of the seven dwarves, these are the most Jewish-feeling to me. I can just imagine Sneezy making many appointments with Doc, a nice Jewish doctor, to try to figure out why he’s so phlegmy. Is it seasonal allergies to the enchanted forest?
from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”
She’s one of the only Disney characters to have changed her last name when she got married, so let’s just imagine for a moment that this character who made every preteen boy drool’s last name was Goldberg or Weinstein. Like any self-respecting Jewess, she’s married to a man who can first and foremost make her laugh.
Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head
from “Toy Story”
Obviously they must’ve been named Mr. and Mrs. Latke but had to change it when they arrived at Ellis Island. Plus, like an overpacking Jewish aunt and uncle who are often schvitzing or too cold, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head love to hold onto extra clothes on their travels.
from “Winnie the Pooh”
This philosophical donkey is basically the personification of Yom Kippur: He’s always thinking about the meaning and fragility of life. And he keeps his tail on with a pin, like a yarmulke that always needs a bobby pin.
All he wants to do is retire to someplace warm, just like your parents who have their eye on that pink villa with terrazzo flooring in Boca Raton.
from “The Incredibles”
Everything from her tiny stature to her impeccably timeless fashion sense to her first name feels positively Jewish granny chic. (And she was actually inspired by Jewish fashion designer Edith Head so this one really isn’t a stretch.)
from “Finding Nemo”
Jews have the anxious-while-parenting-but-it’s-because-they-love-you-so-much thing on lock, and swimming all the way to Australia to make sure your kid is out of shark-infested waters embodies that. Woulda been cool if they were salmon though, or gefilte fish… whatever that’s made of anyway.
As for the Disney characters that don’t feel Jewish? Well, you know, every single other one.