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Jewesses with Attitude

MTV After Hours: Putting Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon to the test

Hanukkah may be over until next year, but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy some of the best Hanukkah video goodies the Internet has to offer. And actually, this one doesn't have much to do with the Festival of Lights beyond having its name in the title.

In this week's MTV After Hours, Jewish host Josh Horowitz tests celeb starlet Scarlett Johansson and her We Bought a Zoo co-star, Matt Damon, on their Jewish cultural knowledge. Johansson, whose mother is Ashkenazi, clearly has the advantage over Damon, who is in no way a Member of the Tribe (though he does know all the words to "I Have a Little Dreidel").

A few bits of note on other Jewesses who receive mention during this "ultimate test of Jewish knowledge" (MTV's words, not mine):

Despite Johansson and Horowitz's agreement that former Blossom star Mayim Bialik is a rabbi, I can find no Internet proof of such ordination. However, Bialik, who now stars in The Big Bang Theory, holds some equally impressive titles: The observantly Jewish actress has a doctorate in neuroscience and identifies as an advocate for social justice. She works with the Jewish Free Loan Association and recently hosted a fundraiser for Rabbis for Human Rights.

Both Johannson and Damon respond "Ehhhhh" when asked how they feel about fellow celeb Gwyneth Paltrow's identifying as Jewish. Paltrow, whose late father was Jewish and whose mother, the famous Blythe Danner, is Christian, was raised celebrating the holidays and traditions of both faiths. Though she once said that "religion is the cause of all the problems in the world," US Weekly reported in July that Paltrow and her rockstar husband are raising their two young children in the Jewish faith.

When asked to name Barbra Streisand's best film, Damon is quick to choose The Way We Were, while Horowitz disagrees and names Prince of Tides. It might interest you to know that Hollywood big wigs think they're both wrong: While the incomparable Streisand was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for both of these movies, she won awards for neither. She did, however, win one of each for her leading role in Funny Girl and a Golden Globe for directing Yentl (in which she also starred).

For Johanssen's take on gefilte fish and Damon's debatably uncomfortable Hitler joke, you'll have to take a look yourself. How would you have answered these questions?

How to cite this page

Bigam, Kate. "MTV After Hours: Putting Scarlett Johansson and Matt Damon to the test." 30 December 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/mtv-after-hours-putting-scarlett-johansson-and-matt-damon-to-test>.

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