Drake’s Second Bar Mitzvah
Drake, the rap singer, has soared to the top of his field since the release of his first studio album in June, 2010. Most rappers come out of America’s mean urban streets. Drake was born (1986) and raised in an affluent Toronto neighborhood, the son of a white Jewish mother and an African-American father. His parents split when he was he was 5 years old and he was raised mostly by his mother. When he was 13, like most Jewish boys, he had a bar mitzvah. From 2001-2009, he was a co-star of the international TV hit, “DeGrassi: The Next Generation.”
A couple of weeks ago, Drake released a video entitled “HYFR.” It begins with a few seconds of video from Drake’s1999 bar mitzvah and a written statement: “On Oct. 24, 2011 Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham chose to be re-bar mitzvah’d as a re-commitment to the Jewish religion.” The rest of the video takes place in a synagogue (Temple Israel in Miami) where the adult Drake has a bar mitzvah ceremony and at a following, surrealistically wild reception. (To find: “google” ‘Drake Bar Mitzvah video’.)
Drake’s re-commitment to Judaism is “very nice”—but the lyrics of the rap song accompanying the video are pretty graphic and address romantic relationship issues and not religious themes. Of one thing I’m sure: Drake’s fans, Jewish or not, have to be confused about this juxtaposition and are saying to themselves: “What was that exactly?”
“Girls” on HBO
Last Sunday, April 15, the comedy/drama, “Girls,” premiered on HBO. It follows the lives of five women in their early ‘20s who are sorting things out after moving to New York City. The series is produced by JUDD APATOW, 44, and was created by LENA DUNHAM, 25. Dunham also co-stars as “Hannah,” one of the five “girls.” (Dunham is the daughter of a Jewish mother/non-Jewish father).
ZOSIA MAMET, 23, plays Shoshanna, whom Dunham describes as, “The type of young woman who proudly displays her ‘Sex and the City’ poster in her bedroom, and wears light pink velour jumpsuits. A Jewish American Princess with an unexpected inner life.” Mamet is the daughter of famous playwright DAVID MAMET, 64, and his ex-wife, actress Lindsay Crouse, a devout Buddhist. Zosia’s credits include playing “Joyce,” a lesbian character, in the 4th season of “Mad Men.” (My educated guess is that Zosia wasn’t raised in any faith. Her father became a “serious” practicing Jew around the time his marriage to Crouse was ending. His second wife, actress REBECCA PIDGEON, 46, with whom he has two children, is a convert to Judaism).
Another one of the “five” is “Jessa” (played by Jemina Kirke). Jessa is described as a space cadet with hippie tendencies who wants to be an artist/educator. Jessa is supposed to be Shoshanna’s cousin, so presumably she is Jewish, too. (Allison Williams, the daughter of NBC news anchor Brian Williams, plays Marnie, another one of the “girls.”)
Michele is a Catholic
Lea Michele, now 25, became a TV star playing Jewish character Rachel Berry on the hit Fox show, “Glee,” which premiered in Sept., 2009. In August, 2009, GERRI MILLER, a reporter I respect, interviewed Michele and DIANNA AGRON (who plays Quinn Fabray on “Glee”), for JVibe, a Jewish young people’s magazine. Agron, now 25, talked about her substantial Jewish religious background. About Michele, Miller wrote this: “The daughter of an Italian-Catholic mom and Spanish-Sephardic Jewish father, Lea was raised with both religions, though she didn’t attend Hebrew school or have a bat mitzvah. ‘I want to learn how to make latkes,’ Lea says, also confiding that despite her success onstage, she was told she’d never make it in TV ‘because I looked too ethnic, too Jewish.’”
I’m sure Ms. Miller didn’t mis-state what Michele told her. I think Michele realized a reporter for a Jewish publication wouldn’t put Michele in her article if she said she was “raised Catholic.” Michele wanted any publicity she and her new show could get. So, she told Miller that she was raised “both.” On April 8, Michele appeared on the Bravo TV show, “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” with most of the cast of “Glee.” She was asked about her parents’ background and if she was “raised both.” She said, “I was raised Catholic, but my father gladly attended church with us.” It’s obvious to me that Michele felt she no longer had to lie or fudge the facts now that she’s a “star.”
Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities, broadly defined, that appears in the Atlanta Jewish Times, the Cleveland Jewish News, the American Israelite of Cincinnati, the Detroit Jewish News, and the New Jersey Jewish Standard. It also appears bi-weekly in j., the Jewish news weekly of northern California. Most of the items in Bloom’s weekly newspaper column differ from the items in his bi-weekly column on interfaith celebrities for InterfaithFamily.com. If you wish to contact Nate Bloom, e-mail him at email@example.com . The author welcomes questions and celebrity “tips,” especially about people you personally know.