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Is Natalie Portman Jewish?
Natalie Portman is a Hollywood actress and filmmaker known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Black Swan and her star turn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But her success in the entertainment industry isn’t the only thing that makes Portman’s story unique—she’s also an American actress and filmmaker of Jewish origin.
Portman was born in Jerusalem in 1981, to an Israeli father, Avner Hershlag, and a Danish mother, Shelley Stevens. Her father’s family were Jewish, and although both of her parents raised her in a secular household, she has spoken about her strong connection to the Jewish culture. In a 2011 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, she said: “I am very culturally connected to being Jewish…But I think that’s true of a lot of people who are not religious.”
Portman’s connection to Judaism is most evident in her film work. She has appeared in several films about Jewish history and culture, including A Tale of Love and Darkness, which she wrote and directed. The movie is based on Amos Oz’s memoir, and according to the film’s synopsis, “A Tale of Love and Darkness is a poetic journey into the inner world of a young boy growing up in Jerusalem in the 1940s, as his family confronts the tumultuous politics of a nation in the midst of profound change”.
In addition to her acting roles, Portman has also spoken out against anti-Semitism, using her platform to fight back against discrimination. In 2017, she wrote an essay for Time magazine condemning the wave of anti-Semitic incidents that had taken place in the United States in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. She wrote: “We must recognize that we are facing an epidemic of evil and hate…we must stand united to put an end to it.”
Overall, Natalie Portman’s Jewish background has greatly informed her artistic career, as well as her activism. She has embraced her Jewish identity by appearing in films about Jewish history, and by writing impassioned essays about anti-Semitism. Her success in the entertainment industry is a testament to her strong connection to her heritage—and a reminder to all of us of the importance of standing up for others in the face of hate.