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14 Jewish Facts About Henry Winkler – Kveller

The internet loves Henry Winkler, and so do we. The Jewish grandfather of six is ​​nothing but a source of pure, unadulterated joy – and according to many sources, a real mensch in real life. Every once in a while, the internet zayde (because he is) starts trending on Twitter for adorable reasons, like the fact that he posts the best fishing selfies known to man. I mean, just look at this joy:

The 76-year-old actor also has an incredibly Jewish background and history, so here are 14 Jewish facts about our absolute favorite mensch:

Winkler is the son of German Jews who escaped the Holocaust

In 1939, Henry’s Jewish father, Harry, was granted a six-week working visa to America and brought his wife Ilse with him, telling her it was only a short visit. Before leaving the country, he encased some of his family’s treasured heirlooms in chocolate, only to smuggle them into his suitcase undetected. The family never returned. Winkler says he lost most of his family to the Holocaust, including his uncle Helmut, who was to join Harry on his “business trip”.

Winkler has long roots in the Habonim congregation in New York.

Winkler’s parents were founding members of the German Jewish congregation Habonim (Hebrew for “the builders”) in New York. The Conservative Synagogue was located on the Upper West Side on 66th Street, although it has since moved (fun fact: I had a gig there as a Hebrew school teacher when she was still at her original location). It is also one of many Jewish institutions the actor has donated to over the years.

Winkler not only did his bar mitzvah at the synagogue, but he also married the love of his life, Stacey Winkler, at the synagogue. The two have three children, Jed, who is Stacey’s son from a previous marriage, Zoe and Max.

His first paid acting gig was in an adaptation of three stories by Philip Roth

After graduating from Yale School of Drama (despite battling dyslexia!), Winkler traveled to New York where he began trying to make a living as an actor. His first paid gig was in the fall of 1970, in an adaptation of the stories by Philip Roth, which, according to The New York Times, was well reviewed!

He played many Jewish and Jewish characters

While Winkler is known for playing the Jewish Fonz, admittedly not at all, many of his other the roles are Jewish, or at least Jewish adjacent. He played a tough Jew in “Lords of Flatbush” opposite a very young Sylvester Stallone. He is widely praised for playing the Jewish-named trainer Klein in Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy.” He is a cult legend for playing the very Jewish Barry Zuckerkorn in “Arrested Development” and of course the possibly Jewish Dr. Lu Saperstein in “Parks & Rec”, the father of Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) and Mona -Lisa (Jenny Slate.)

He also starred as Jewish New York Mayor Ed Koch in the Funny or Die satirical film “Donald Trump’s Art of the Market.”

Winkler loves Katz’s deli – where he orders a “juicy” pastrami sandwich

Winkler was recently interviewed at New York’s famed Jewish Deli about his work on “Barry,” for which he won his first Emmy in 2018, and it turns out he’s very methodical about eating a sandwich at pastrami, disassemble the top slice of bread to put mustard on it, then eat it out in the open — “Otherwise I would never have it in my mouth,” he told Thrillist. He’s been going to the deli for many decades and even brought Ron Howard there in the 1970s while working on “Happy Days.”

Winkler is the reason Jewish mother Marlee Matlin remained an actress

The historic Deaf actress and Jewish mother of four and Winkler go a long way. The two met when she was 13, when he saw her perform at the Center for Deafness. Matlin was unsure about her future as an actress and Winkler told her, “You know Marlee, you can be whatever you want to be, just follow your heart and your dreams will come true.”

He later let her live in his house while filming ‘Children of a Lesser God’, for which she won her first Oscar at age 19, and she also married her husband in the actor’s garden .

Winkler danced to “Hava Nagilah” as Fonz in “Happy Days”

Winkler has the moves! He recently showed them off in a TikTok video with his grandkids, but he also showed off his dancing skills in all their glory by dancing to Hava Nagilah on an episode of “Happy Days.”

He is a cousin of actor Richard Belzer

Belzer, of course, plays one of the most famous Jewish TV detectives, John Munch from “Homicide: Life on the street” and “Law and Order: SVU.” Winkler guest-starred on a third-season episode of “Law and Order: SVU” as a con artist.

Winkler is set to star in an exciting Israeli show

Winkler starred as Tatty in the upcoming very exciting and raunchy Israeli-American show “Chansi,” about a young Orthodox Jewish woman who travels to Israel to serve in the Israeli military and experiences a sexual awakening.

Winkler will play the titular character’s religious Jewish father, opposite “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Caroline Aaron. It’s hard to think of a more perfect role for him.

Winkler first visited Israel in 2022 and had a blast

We’re just obsessed with this picture of Henry Winkler on a camel! Winkler recently traveled to Israel for the first (!) time to shoot “Chansi,” and he’s been really busy, meeting Israeli celebrities, eating delicious food, and doing all the fun tourist stuff – see all the wonderful pictures here.

Yes, he tells Jewish jokes on Twitter

Please clap:

Winkler plays Zayde in ‘Rugrats’ reboot

Winkler as Tommy’s Jewish grandfather is the very wonderful reboot of “Rugrats” is just our favorite. He’s a fun retired Florida Jew who loves FaceTiming his grandson and also gives the sweetest, cheesiest Hanukkah blessings.

Winkler has a factory in his house that was smuggled out of Nazi Germany

Winkler has a spider plant in his house that his family friend, “Aunt Erma”, smuggled out of Nazi Germany. He apparently gives clippings to his friends and family.

“Transparent” creator Joey Soloway apparently used to keep one in their writers room while he worked on the show.

He invited showrunner and Fauda star Lior Raz for Yom Kippur breakfast

“He came with his family, and I was late, and he was appalled that they made me work on Yom Kippur,” Winkler told Arizona Jewish Life in 2019. He said he celebrates all Jewish holidays, he does not observe the Shabbat. , but is “proudly observant”.