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Celebrating Jewish Mums

By March 4, 2016 April 8th, 2016 Blog-Leeds, Blog-Manchester

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday! Of course, we at JLife know you’ve already found the perfect flowers, have the box of chocolates at the ready and know exactly what she’d like for her breakfast on Sunday.

So, instead of rounding up last-minute gift ideas, we thought we’d take a look at famous Jewish mothers portrayed on both the small and silver screen.

Beverly Goldberg (The Goldbergs)
The most popular Jewish family on television right now are the titular characters in US sitcom The Goldbergs, which airs in the UK on E4. Now its third series, the show is notable for focusing on a Jewish family whose religious identity is intertwined with the 80s time period in which the show takes place.

Mother Beverly Goldberg is funny, sweet…and hilariously conniving. She devises devious plots to ensure she spends time with her increasingly independent teenagers, inventing ‘Super Chanukah’ in one episode, and becoming the leader of a charity event just so she can have a lovely picture for the local newspaper of her holding hands with her kids in another.

This is a portrayal of a universally relatable mother figure that people both in and outside of the Jewish community can relate to. No wonder the show is a runaway success, recently renewed for a fourth series in the US.

Jackie Goodman (Friday Night Dinner)
Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner, returning for its fourth series sometime in 2016, is a classic family comedy, and focuses on the misadventures of one Jewish family. Although the storylines are frequently weird, the semi-autobiographical nature of the show (creator Robert Popper was influenced by how immature he and his brother would act at weekly family dinners) keeps it grounded in something relatable.

The matriarch of the family, played by comic actress Tamsin Grieg, is comparatively ordinary compared to the rest of the cast. Loved (and feared) by her husband and sons, the silly comic adventures she becomes involved in are firmly grounded in reality and, as the series progresses, we’ve noticed that we’ve started to see similarities between her and our own mums.

Joyce Brewster (The Guilt Trip)
It may have not been a box office hit, or even have a glowing critical reception, but it wouldn’t be a list of Jewish mothers without an inclusion from Barbara Streisand. Although differing very little from the eccentric mums she has been playing in comedies for countless years, most notably the 2005 smash hit Meet the Fockers, this film is based on a true life cross-country trip screenwriter Dan Fogelman took with his own mother.

The film adaptation of this life experience, co-starring Seth Rogen as the son, may frequently be unbelievable, but it ends with a heartwarming note that will appeal to both mothers and their children everywhere. Over the course of the film, she becomes someone relatable.

Maura Pfefferman (Transparent)
The most unique entry on the list, Jeffrey Tambor’s Golden Globe and Emmy-winning performance in Amazon Prime’s comedy drama is a watershed moment for screen portrayals of Jewish femininity.

Based on creator Jill Soloway’s own family, where her father came out as transgender and began living life as a woman in old age, the show is unique in how many stereotypes it overturns. Maura is the sole member of the dysfunctional family who is kind and caring. Even as she is going through a transitional stage in life, she is still a rare positive influence in the self-destructive lives of her children and other family members.