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Is Taika Waititi Jewish?
Taika Waititi is a celebrated New Zealand filmmaker, whose unique blend of comedy and creativity has earned him the admiration of critics and moviegoers alike. While his nationality and his comedy style have been widely popular, there has often been confusion surrounding his faith and religious background. So is Taika Waititi Jewish?
The short answer is – yes, he is. Taika Waititi identifies himself as a proud Jewish person, and there is evidence to suggest he has been raised within the Jewish faith.
Taika Waititi was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1975 to a Jewish mother and a Maori father. While he was raised by his father, he developed a close relationship with his Jewish grandparents, who sometimes referred to him as their “Chaim,” which is the Hebrew name meaning “Life” or “Living One.” This suggests that his Jewish grandfather likely played a large role in his upbringing, and he was likely raised to embrace the traditional Jewish identity and values.
In his adult life, Taika Waititi has been vocal about his Jewish heritage, often making references to it in his work. In his breakout 2014 indie comedy film “What We Do in The Shadows,” Waititi plays the role of Viago, a Jewish vampire living in New Zealand. Although the film is a comedy, Viago’s Jewish faith is taken seriously. He reads from a Jewish prayer book and shares traditional Jewish recipes with his vampire roommates. This suggests that Waititi was conscious of the importance of portraying Viago as a truly Jewish character.
In addition to his work, Taika Waititi has also spoken openly about his Jewish identity. In an interview, Waititi explained that his Jewish grandmother had introduced him to the Jewish teachings of Hillel the Elder, an ancient Jewish sage. He was also a student at the Wellington Jewish Day School, which is a primary and secondary school teaching the Jewish faith.
Given all this evidence, it is clear that Taika Waititi identifies as a Jewish person and has connected with his Jewish heritage throughout his life. His background has inspired his work, and his example stands as an example of how one can find humor and beauty in embracing their past.
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