Judaism is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethical religion that compromises the collective tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. The religion has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Some scholars believe Judaism evolved from Yahwism, the religion of ancient Israel and Judah.
Today, we will talk about some of the most famous Jews in the world. They all follow Judaism and its Holly Book, the Torah.
Difference Between Christianity And Judaism
Before we go to some of the most famous Jews, let’s talk about what is the difference between Christianity and Judaism. We have to talk about Jewish history for that purpose.
Christianity is rooted in Second Temple Judaism, but the two religions diverged in the first centuries of the Christian Era.
Here is the main difference. Christianity emphasizes correct belief, focusing on the New Covenant as mediated through Jesus Christ as recorded in the New Testament. Judaism, on the other hand, places emphasis on correct conduct focusing on the Mosaic covenant, as recorded in the Torah and Talmud.
Christians believe in individual salvation from sin through receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Jews believe in individual and collective participation in an eternal dialogue with God through tradition, rituals, and ethical actions.
Christians also believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He is the son of God who took human form to save believers from their sins. In Judaism, Jesus is not a divine being. He is viewed as a Jewish teacher and the founder of Christianity, but not as a savior.
Another big difference is how they view God as a divine being. In Christianity, God is viewed as a Holy Trinity, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus became man. Judaism is based on the concept of the Oneness of God as a sole divine being.
Now that we cleared that up, let’s talk about some of the most famous Jews.
The English actor is best known for his role as Harry Potter in the Harry Potter film franchise. His continued work in film and theatre roles has earned him various awards and nominations.
Radcliffe made his acting debut at only 10 years of age in the BBC one television film David Copperfield. In 2001, he starred as Harry Potter in the film adaptation of the J K Rowling fantasy novel.
In 2007, he branched out to stage acting. As a famous actor, humanitarian, and philanthropist, he has contributed to many charities. He got the Hero Award in 2011 for his contribution to the Trevor Project.
Born in June 1962, Paula Abdul is one of the most famous American singers. The dancer, choreographer, actress, and television personality began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers. She was only 18 at the time and became the head choreographer for the Laker Girls.
That is where the Jacksons discovered her. In the beginning, Abdul choreographed music videos for Janet Jackson before going into music.
Her debut album Forever Your Girl in 1988 became one of the most successful debut albums at the time.
The American singer was one of the original judges on the television series American Idol from 2002 to 2009.
You surely expected Albert Einstein on the list of famous Jews, right? The German-born theoretical physicist moved to the United States before World War II. He is best known for developing the theory of relativity. The famous scientist made contributions to the theory of quantum mechanics as well.
Born in the German Empire, Einstein moved to Switzerland in 1895, forsaking his German citizenship. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Einstein objected to the policies of the new Nazi government. Because of his Jewish origin, Einstein was afraid for his life and moved to the United States.
Fun fact: Einstein alerted US President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the potential nuclear weapons program and recommended that the US begin similar research.
The American actor appeared in many iconic movies, including The Godfather, The Gambler, Cinderella Liberty, and The Rain People. He collaborated with Francis Ford Coppola on many movies, which is how he eventually got the role of Sonny Corleone in The Godfather.
He was nominated for an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. In 1978, Caan was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Fun fact: he supported Donald Trump during the 2016 United States presidential election. Caan describes himself as ultra-conservative and watches only Fox News.
Born in June 1963, the English actor appeared in The Patriot, Black Hawk Down, Harry Potter film series, The Death of Stalin, Sweet November, and many more movies.
Jason Isaacs has earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor for The State Within.
Born in June 1986, Shia LaBeouf is an American actor, performance artist, and filmmaker. He started his career in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. For that role, he received a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003. But his biggest success came when he appeared in the Transformers movie franchise.
Speaking about his religious belief, Shia LaBeouf contributed an essay to the book I Am Jewish by Judea Pearl. In that essay, he wrote he has a “personal relationship with God that happens to work within the confines of Judaism”.
Peter Falk is most famous for his role as Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo. For that role, he won four Primetime Emmy Award trophies.
The American Jew was also nominated for an Academy Award two times, once for Murder, Inc. and another time for The Dick Powell Theatre.
Peter Falk remains the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same year.
Born in July 1972, the American actress, comedian, and singer became a cast member on Saturday Night Live in 2000. She has played supporting roles in movies like 50 First Dates, Idiocracy, and A Prairie Home Companion.
She left Saturday Night Live in 2007. Since then, Maya Rudolph appeared in movies like Grown Ups, Bridesmaids, Inherent Vice, Sisters, Wine Country, and even more.
Rudolph is famous for her portrayal of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Saturday Night Live. For that portrayal, she won a Primetime Emmy Award.
Born Gaston Ghrenassia, Enrico Macias is an Algerian-French singer, songwriter, and musician. He is of Algerian Jewish descent and one of the most prominent Jews.
He was born in a Jewish family in Constantine, Algeria. In 1961, as the Algerian War of Independence was raging, it was untenable for the Jewish and European residents of Constantine.
Gaston left the country and fled to France. There, he gained enormous success and popularity with his songs during the 1960s.
Enrico Macias sang in many languages, including French, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Turkish, English, Arabic, and Armenian.
Born in September 1972, Gwyneth Paltrow is an American actress and businesswoman. She has an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and many more accolades in her bag.
She gained popularity thanks to 1990s movies like Seven, Emma, Sliding Doors, and A Perfect Murder. In 1998, she gained international stardom thanks to her appearance in the historical fiction film Shakespeare in Love.
She reduced her workload after becoming a mother. In the late 2000s and 2010s, Gwyneth became a worldwide star thanks to her appearance in Iron Man and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Born Thomas Jacob Black, Jack Black is an American actor, comedian, and musician. He is famous for his role in movies like High Fidelity, Shallow Hal, Orange County, School of Rock, Envy, and more.
He is the lead vocalist of the comedy rock duo Tenacious D. He formed the duo in 1994 with long-time friend Kyle Gass. The duo has multiple studio albums.
In 2018, he started a YouTube channel.
When you talk about famous Jews, another name you have to mention is Franz Kafka. The German-speaking Bohemian novelist and writer is widely regarded as one of the major figures in 20th-century literature.
Kafka managed to fuse elements of realism and the fantastic. He was born into a German-speaking Czech-Jewish family in Prague.
Born Lawrence Edward Page in March 1973, he is an American computer scientist and Internet entrepreneur. Larry Page is one of the co-founders of Google, alongside Sergey Brin.
He was the chief executive officer of Google from 1997 until August 2001. He moved to become the CEO of Alphabet Inc. in 2015, Google’s parent company.
Bet you didn’t know this. Joaquin Phoenix, who portrayed Joker in the DC Extended Universe, is actually Jewish.
The famous American actor has many awards on his resume, including an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and a Grammy Award.
He was born in Puerto Rico but raised in Los Angeles and Florida. He began his movie career in the 1980s appearing in television series alongside his brother River.
Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most famous vegans in the world. He supports many charities and organizations that try to show the reality of the meat industry.
Bob Saget was an American actor, comedian, and television presenter. He was the original host of America’s Funniest Home Videos, the guy who made us laugh. He is known for his adult-oriented stand-up comedy.
Born in Philadelphia to a Jewish family, the American comedian was also the voice of narrator Ted Mosby on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
We have to mention Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock from Star Trek. He was the son of an Orthodox Jewish immigrant from Ukraine. The American actor and producer was active in the Jewish community for a long time. He could also speak and read Yiddish.
Born in July 1942, Harrison Ford is a famous American actor. He is one of the few actors that can say they have been part of two iconic franchises. Ford portrayed Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, and Indiana Jones in the highly successful Indiana Jones franchise.
He has collaborated with Steven Spielberg on many projects. Fun fact: aside from acting, he is also a licensed pilot. He has even assisted emergency services in rescue missions near his home in Wyoming.
We continue our list with Larry King, the famous American television and radio host. Born and raised in New York City to Orthodox Jews, his parents immigrated to the US from Belarus in the 1930s.
From 1985 to 2010, Larry hosted the interview television program Larry King Live on CNN. He hosted Larry King Now from 2012 to 2020 on Hulu, Ora TV, and RT America.
It is only fitting that we finish the list of famous Jews with the most famous of them all. Born Annelies Marie Frank, Anne Frank was a German-Dutch diarist of Jewish heritage. She is the most discussed victim of the Holocaust.
Anne Frank gained fame posthumously with the publication of her diary, The Diary of a Young Girl. In that diary, she documented her life in hiding from 1942 to 1944 during the German occupation of the Netherlands.