Mazel Tov

Ivanka Trump, Elizabeth Taylor and Other Celebrities Who Converted to Judaism

Tila Tequila is the latest celebrity flirting with converting to Judaism. From famous converts like Ivanka Trump and Elizabeth Taylor to those who married into the Tribe, see more surprising seder guests.

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Getty Images (2); Corbis (2)

Guess Who’s Coming to Passover!

Tila Tequila is the latest celebrity flirting with converting to Judaism. From famous converts like Ivanka Trump and Elizabeth Taylor to those who married into the Tribe, see more surprising seder guests.

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Tila Tequila

Former MTV reality star Tila Tequila is in the process of converting to Judaism, and we don’t think it’s a publicity stunt. The sex tape star skipped Christmas this year and has been taking classes at a New York temple to help the conversion process. “As time passed, I started to become more and more fascinated with Kabbalah, the culture, and the way of life of the reform Judaism religion,” she told TMZ.

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Drew Barrymore

Actor Will Kopelman has so swept Drew Barrymore off her feet that she’s reportedly considering converting to Judaism to fit in better with her fiancé’s family. Though her rep denied that she is going to convert, In Touch claims that the twice married Barrymore has already offered to raise any children in the Jewish faith. According to the magazine’s sources, the actress has leaned on frequent co-star and close pal Adam Sandler, the comedian behind the “Hanukkah Song,” for guidance.

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Chelsea Clinton

Guests enjoyed an interfaith ceremony in July 2010 when former first daughter Chelsea Clinton married Marc Mezvinsky in upstate New York. Despite embracing several Jewish wedding traditions, like the groom’s breaking of a glass and his wearing a yarmulke, Clinton, a practicing Methodist, is unlikely to convert to her new husband’s Judaism, according to The New York Times. But she’s welcome to seder any time.

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Jon Gosselin

Former reality-TV star Jon Gosselin began exploring his Jewish roots when he started dating then 22-year-old Hailey Glassman, with whom he celebrated Hanukkah for the first time. “Hailey is Jewish. Everyone in my life is Jewish now, my attorney. I love it. I’m now half Jewish and half Korean,” Gosselin told ParentDish. “The family values are great.” Gosselin and Glassman went through a bitter breakup in December 2009; it’s unclear whether Gosselin’s newfound religion was more lasting than their love.

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Amar’e Stoudemire

Speculation boomed that Amar’e Stoudemire is Jewish after the NBA star traveled to Israel to learn more about his Jewish heritage on his mom’s side. Though Stoudemire has a Star of David tattoo on his hand and even wore a yarmulke during his trip, he was vague when discussing his religion with Israeli TV, saying, “through history, we all are” Jewish. According to The Huffington Post, he also speaks Hebrew. L’Shana Tova, Amar’e! 

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Lindsay Lohan

She tried Scientology; she tried Kabbalah; and in 2010, Lindsay Lohan revealed her plans of converting to Judaism as a show of commitment to her then-girlfriend, Jewish DJ Samantha Ronson. She even flew to London to attend the bar mitzvah of Ronson’s half-brother Joshua. Since then, Ronson has split from the actress, and it appears Lohan didn’t quite make it to the Promised Land.

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Ivanka Trump

In advance of her wedding to Orthodox Jewish real-estate mogul and New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump converted to Judaism to honor her future husband. She began the process in 2008 at the Kehilath Jeshurun Synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

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Elizabeth Taylor

Though born into a Christian Science family in England, Liz Taylor turned to Judaism after Christianity failed to help her cope with the death of Mike Todd, her third husband, in 1958. After studying the religion for a year, she converted, though was never a regular temple-goer. On May 12, 1959, Taylor married singer Eddie Fisher, who was Jewish, in a ceremony at Temple Beth Shalom in Las Vegas.

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Marilyn Monroe

Like Liz Taylor, Hollywood’s most famous blonde was born into a family of Christian Scientists. After falling in love with Jewish playwright Arthur Miller, she made an unusual request to have a rabbi preside over their wedding and converted in 1956.

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Nell Carter

The Gimme a Break! actress converted in 1982 when she married George Krynicki, a Jewish mathematician and lumber executive. Carter died at 54, and her rabbi told the mourners that she serenaded her son at his bar mitzvah with “You Take My Breath Away,” and put a lengthy letter in Jerusalem’s Western Wall. “She said, ‘When I write God, it’s not a note, it’s a megillah!” the rabbi said.

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Campbell Brown

The Catholic daughter of a Louisiana state senator, Campbell Brown (née Alma Dale Campbell Brown) converted to Judaism to marry her second husband, Dan Senor, in an Orthodox ceremony. When Senor first met Brown’s Southern Catholic family over dinner, Brown asked if there was something besides shellfish for her kosher boyfriend to eat. “That’s OK, sweetheart,” Brown’s grandmother told her. “I’ve got a ham in the fridge.”

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Kate Capshaw

Who wouldn’t swap religions to marry Steven Spielberg? Actress Kate Capshaw met Spielberg when she won the lead role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They married in 1991 after she converted to Judaism, and had five children together. “My wife chose to do a full conversion before we were married in 1991, and she married me as a Jew. I think that, more than anything else, brought me back to Judaism,” Spielberg said.

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Connie Chung

Chung converted to Judaism upon marrying talk-show host Maury Povich in 1984, though she has said little about her new faith over the years.

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Sammy Davis Jr.

Davis was born Catholic to Cuban parents, and first became interested in Judaism when he met a rabbi at a hospital where he was recovering from a car accident that caused him to lose an eye. One rabbi advised him to stay away from Judaism, because its people have been oppressed for so long, but Davis said he related to that. “Jews have become strong over their thousands of years of oppression, and I wanted to become part of that strength. As a Negro, I felt emotionally tied to Judaism,” he said of his conversion.

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Jamaica Kincaid

Author Jamaica Kincaid dropped her Methodist religion to convert to Judaism, the religion of her then-husband, composer Allen Shawn. Though she was president of her synagogue, she has said she doesn’t like to talk about her faith. “I don’t know why,” she said, “but I do feel that God is a private issue.”

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Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher converted to Judaism for her devout longtime partner, Sacha Baron Cohen. But it wasn’t as easy as she thought: Their wedding was originally postponed because Fisher’s Torah studies went slower than expected, mainly because she was spending all her time filming Confessions of a Shopaholic. But now that she’s officially converted, Fisher describes herself as “quite observant.” She speaks a little Hebrew and her family keeps Shabbat on Friday nights and celebrates the holidays. Upon converting, Fisher was given the Hebrew name “Ayala” or “Doe.”

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Mary Hart

Former Entertainment Tonight hostess Mary Hart was born in Sioux Falls, S.D., and raised a Lutheran in Denmark and Sweden. But upon her engagement to producer Burt Sugarman in 1989, Hart converted to Judaism.

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Dr. Laura Schlesinger

Born to an Italian Roman Catholic mother and a non-practicing Jewish father, in Brooklyn, Dr. Laura Schlessinger grew up not practicing anything. But in 1996, she began exploring her faith, and began practicing Judaism. And two years later, along with her husband, Dr. Lewis Bishop, and their son, Dr. Laura became an Orthodox Jew. Since then, she’s used Jewish customs and examples to solve problems on her show, and in 1999, published The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life, which she wrote in conjunction with the Rabbi Stewart Vogel. But it wasn’t long before Dr. Laura lost her calling: In 2003, Schlessinger announced on her show that while she still considered herself Jewish, “my identifying with this entity and my fulfilling the rituals, etc., of the entity—that has ended.”

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Elizabeth Banks

Born into a Pittsfield, Mass., working-class family as Elizabeth Mitchell, Banks graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania before hitting it big with The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Banks went on to play a series of big Hollywood roles, most recently in The Hunger Games. She coverted to Judaism to marry sportswriter and producer Max Handelman, her boyfriend since college.

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Rod Carew

In Adam Sandler’s 1994 “Chanukah Song,” he sang: “O.J. Simpson… not a Jew! But guess who is: Hall of Famer Rod Carew—he converted.” But unfortunately for Sandler’s lyrics, the former Major Leaguer is not a Jew. (Though he is Jew-ish.) While Carew is married to a Jewish woman, and raised his children as Jews, he never converted himself. In fact, he regularly attends Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. But for those still looking for Major League inspiration: Elliott Maddox, who played for both the Yankees and the Mets, converted to Judaism in 1974.