Favorite Movie Rabbis
Nehemiah Persoff as Rebbe Mendel in Yentl (1983)
In Barbra Streisand’s musical Yentl, Nehemiah Persoff, a World War II veteran originally from Jerusalem, plays Rebbe Mendel. Mendel secretly gives Talmud lessons to Yentl (Streisand), a young girl living in a late 19th century Polish shtetl at a time when women are barred from religious study. Yentl ultimately disguises herself as her late brother in order to enter a religious school, where drama ensues.
Mel Brooks as Rabbi Tuckman in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Mel Brooks plays Rabbi Tuckman in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, a musical parody of the English folktale Robin Hood. Brooks produced, directed and co-wrote the film in addition to playing the rabbi, who offers the other characters wine and heavily discounted circumcisions.
Ben Stiller as Rabbi Jake in Keeping the Faith (2000)
In the romantic comedy Keeping the Faith, Ben Stiller plays Rabbi Jake, a young Conservative rabbi resistant to both his mother’s and his congregation’s efforts to find him a nice Jewish girl to marry. Tension mounts as both Jake and his best friend Brian, a priest, develop feelings for their childhood friend Anna, a non-Jew.
Richard Benjamin as Rabbi Schulberg in Keeping up with the Steins (2006)
Richard Benjamin plays Rabbi Schulberg in Keeping Up with the Steins, which pokes fun at families who prioritize elaborate parties over the religious significance of bar and bat mitzvahs.
Steve Buscemi as Rabbi Blumenthal in Norman (2016)
Steve Buscemi plays Rabbi Blumenthal in the political drama Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer. Buscemi plays the sympathetic rabbi of Norman, a New York-based American-Israeli business and political consultant who becomes friends with the prime minister of Israel.