Black & Jewish Celebs Ally; Rashida's Miracle, UK Gays, and Ella Ain’t

Hulu is hosting a live virtual concert featuring five African-American music stars on Feb. 18 at 8 PM. (Also available, free, on the Hulu Youtube Channel through Mar. 18) One of the performers is hot rapper 24KGoldn, 20. His real name is GOLDEN LANDIS VAN JONES. His father is black and not Jewish, and his white mother is Jewish.

Last December, 24kGoldn, who is 20, appeared at a Hanukkah event with MAYIM BIALIK, 44, at Temple Sinai in Los Angeles. A couple of weeks ago, his name was on a list of 170 black and Jewish entertainment leaders who announced the launching of a Black-Jewish alliance. (At least three signers are “both”: 24kGoldn, comedian TIFFANY HADDISH, 40, and DAVID BLU, 40, an American who was a top Israeli pro basketball player.). The Alliance aims to fight anti-Semitism and racism and foster better relations between the two communities. The group’s founding statement noted unity between the communities is partially based on similar foes. They correctly pointed out many of the Jan. 6 rioters carried the Confederate flag, a symbol of racism, while others wore clothes with anti-Semitic messages.

Actress RASHIDA JONES, 44, echoed a related sentiment in a Feb. 11 “Fresh Air” (NPR) interview with TERRY GROSS, 69. She mostly talked about co-starring in the 2020 film “On The Rocks” (Jones may get an Oscar nomination) and about the birth of her first child (2018) and the death (2019) of her mother, actress PEGGY LIPTON. (Rashida’s life partner, and the father of her son, is EZRA KOENIG, 36, a successful rock musician).

She also talked about her African American father, Quincy Jones, a legendary musician and music producer. Her father, she said, grew-up poor, in a rough Chicago neighborhood. But, she said, he beat the odds and survived and thrived. Later in the interview, Rashida told Gross that she went to the Latvian village where her Jewish great-grandparents came from while a guest on the ancestry TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?”. “Everybody” (meaning the Jews), she said, “were killed during the war.” She then said: “And I just think about how ridiculous it is that I exist because the lineage on both sides, the probability that I would exist, a Black Jew in 2021, and succeed and thrive is a miracle. And it's something I do not take for granted. I think about it constantly every day. I don't understand why I was chosen, but I feel like I have to make good on my dad's survival and my family's survival.”

“It’s A Sin” is a five-episode British series that follows a group of gay men who move to London in 1981. They form a friendship group. However, the HIV/AIDS crisis quickly impacts them. The series chronicles their lives until 1991. 

“Sin” got great reviews in the U.K when released last month (100% on Rotten Tomatoes). The large cast includes STEPHEN FRY, 63, as Arthur, and TRACEY ANN OBERMAN, 54, as Carol. Both are Brits. Fry, who is a familiar face on American TV, is gay in real life.  Oberman is a stage and TV actress whose name is unknown to most Americans. But she’s a household name in the U.K. (Starts streaming on HBO Max on Feb. 18)

During the presidential campaign, I refrained from writing anything about how the two adult children of DOUGLAS EMHOFF, 56, the husband of VP Kamala Harris, religiously identified. There were simply no sources about how the Emhoff “kids” were raised.  I did note that Emhoff’s ex-wife, the mother of his children, was almost certainly not Jewish (and I now know she isn’t).

Well, a site that is heavy on Jewish popular culture posted an article on Jan. 21 proclaiming Ella Emhoff, 22, a “Jewish style icon”. The editor-in-chief of the “Forward”, the famous Jewish paper, set the record straight on Jan. 22. In short, she said they reached out to Ella’s spokesperson to have her participate in a “Forward” event. They were told (via several e-mails) that “Ella is not Jewish” and while Doug Emhoff started celebrating Judaism “out of an independent search” over the last few years, Ella was not living with him at the time and Judaism is “not something she grew up with." The spokesperson added: “Ella truly has no qualms about the faith, but she does not want to speak on behalf of Judaism, as she does not celebrate herself.”

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