2017’s Most Notable Jewish Culture Moments


This year saw some pretty high highs, some awful low lows and a few “did that really happen?” moments.

But Jewish culture on and off the big screen, our phones and the stage made up the difference with memorable standouts of 2017. Here are a few of our favorites.

Jews on Screen

It was a knockout year for ladies in films and TV in 2017 — I mean, have you heard of Gal Gadot?

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. | Warner Bros.

Wonder Woman was the biggest grosser of the summer across North America, lassoing in $411.5 million at the box office, according to Forbes. Our favorite warrior princess also created a surge of feminist merch, thousands of Halloween costumes and a deep appreciation for the Israeli accent. We can’t wait to see more of Gadot in the years to come.

Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has taken a step back on the laughs and instead looked at the real root of Rebecca Bunch’s problems (although it’s a lot more nuanced than that). Halfway through season 3, we’ve seen issues of anxiety, suicide and depression at the forefront of many young viewers’ screens — a commendable risk you don’t often see in an hourlong musical comedy.

Our favorite “Jewesses,” Abbi and Ilana, returned for a riskier new season of Broad City. Whereas in past seasons they get into their weed-filled, outrageous shenanigans during the summer in New York City, this season saw them in the winter — which, lucky for us, allowed for a trip to Florida in one of the standout episodes of the season. (Two words: Fran Drescher.)

And we can’t forget the epitome of all Jewish women, Barbra Streisand, whose Netflix concert special Barbra: The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic! gave us the opportunity to go on the journey with her after we sadly missed her live in Philly last year.

This year also saw Jewish themes on screen, new and old, ranging from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and GLOW to the much-anticipated reboots like Will & Grace and Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as FOX’s remake of Dirty Dancing (to many fans’ disappointment).

Jews on Stage

At only 23 years old, Ben Platt became the youngest Tony Award winner for his role starring in Dear Evan Hansen — another contender advocating for mental health this year.

Platt — whose parents, Marc and Julie Platt, are active members of the Jewish Federations of North America — was able to simultaneously cry and sing multiple times in each performance, which was definitely worthy of all the Tonys in my book.

Marc Platt — a Penn grad also known for producing Wicked —  teamed up with the dynamic duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (we’ll ignore the abysmal A Christmas Story Live the two just put on) for 2016’s hit La La Land. (But don’t forget who took home the Oscar this year. We’ll never forget you, Moonlight.)

The pair — of which Pasek is a Jewish Ardmore native — also composed Dear Evan Hansen, and their latest movie-musical The Greatest Showman hit theaters just shy of Christmas this year.

Bette Midler took home a Tony for her portrayal of the titular Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! She will play her final performance in January 2018 before the equally incredible Bernadette Peters steps in Levi’s shoes.

Jews in the Media

In case you don’t have Twitter or live under a rock, the #MeToo campaign has rattled 2017 on social media and beyond, with reactions to men and women’s confessions — against many Jewish A-list celebrities and elected officials — being both positive and negative.

Many have stepped back from the limelight or their posts, including M.O.T.s Sen. Al Franken, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, Jeffrey Tambor, and the one whose behavior started the uproar, Harvey Weinstein.

Probably the most poignant response of them all was by The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik, whose October op-ed in The New York Times came off more aggressive than she had hoped.

The actress and neuroscientist seemed to congratulate herself for never being sexually assaulted because she decided to dress modestly and is “nontraditional” looking as far as Hollywood beauty standards. She ended up apologizing for the backlash.

Jews in Music

Something to Tell You by Haim. Credit to iTunes

The coolest trio of sisters, Alana, Este and Danielle Haim, put our their sophomore album Something to Tell You this year, which featured more dreamy, dance-y tunes that we have come to love Haim for.

Between the release of More Life (starts humming “Passionfruit”) and his re-Bar Mitzvah (he rang in his 31st birthday Bar Mitzvah style), everyone’s favorite Canadian rapper Drake had a big year in 2017, too.

Other M.O.T. musicians who had new releases this year include Adam Levine of Maroon 5, which put out a new album this year (though its name, Red Pill Blues, had some backlash due to its unfortunate linkage to the “red pill” thinking of anti-feminists in recent years), and Alecia Moore (aka Pink) put out another studio release this year, as well.

Jews on Page

From Jennifer Weiner’s second installment of her middle-grade series Littlest Bigfoot to Daniel Silva’s 16th installment of his Gabriel Allon series, there were plenty of books to read this year by Jewish authors.

There were debuts like The New York Times Notable Book of 2017 Waking Lions by Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, new books from already loved authors such as Jami Attenberg’s All Grown Up and Nicole Krauss’ Forest Dark, as well as memoirs like former New Yorker writer Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply

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