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Interfaith Celebrities: Interfaith NFL-ers and Cole Hauser's Impressive Pedigree

Post-Katrina Clean-up

"K-Ville," which began on Fox on Monday Sept. 17, is a police action show actually filmed in New Orleans. The show references the sad but true fact that two years after Hurricane Katrina that large sections of the city are still in ruins and that crime is rampant in many neighborhoods. (New episodes air Mondays at 9 p.m.)

 

Cole Hauser and Anthony Anderson
Cole Hauser (L), the son of a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father, co-stars in "K-ville" with Anthony Anderson (R). REUTERS/Lee Celano (UNITED STATES)

Anthony Anderson plays Marlin Boulet, a brash veteran of the New Orleans Felony Squad who stood his post during Katrina and is determined to collar the bad guys driving up the city's crime rate. His new partner is Trevor Cobb, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Cobb is played by the handsome interfaith actor Cole Hauser, 32, who has been in many action movies, including 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Cave. Hauser comes from a distinguished Hollywood lineage on both sides. His non-Jewish father, Wings Hauser, has been a steadily working character actor since the late '70s. Cole's paternal grandfather, Dwight Hauser, was an Oscar-winning producer and director.

I don't know what religion, if any, Wings Hauser followed or follows--but Cole has referred to his father's family's background as Irish and German.

Cole's Jewish mother, film producer Cass Sperling, is long divorced from Wings Hauser. Cass' mother, Betty Sperling, is a well-known artist, art gallery owner and political activist. Betty is the daughter of the late Harry Warner, one of the famous (Jewish) Warner brothers who founded the studio that bears their name.

In a recent interview, Cole referred to himself as Jewish, but my sense is that he was raised with little (if any) religious background and he is not religious.

Carpool Lane

Fred Goss, 42, co-stars in the new ABC comedy/drama series, "Carpoolers," which began on Oct. 2. New episodes air Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.

"Carpoolers" is about four suburban guys who carpool to work with each other. The carpool setting is a dramatic device to allow the guys to open up with each other about their lives and problems.

Goss plays a character called Gracen--whom the official ABC site describes thusly: "As a professional mediator, Gracen thinks he's a problem solver, but more often he's a causer. He seeks fairness in an unfair world, and so finds himself in the middle of situations because he's compelled to be there."

Goss, who isn't Jewish, grew up in California. He is a writer and director as well as being an actor. Last year, he wrote, directed and starred in the short-lived ABC comedy series, "Sons and Daughters." The show got fairly good reviews, but anemic ratings. It was cancelled after only 11 episodes were aired.

"Sons and Daughters" starred Goss as Cameron Walker, a middle-class non-Jewish guy who lived in his Cincinnati-area hometown with his Jewish wife and their two young daughters. The daughters were being raised in their mother's Jewish faith.

In a memorable episode, Cameron's Aunt Rae meanly tells his young daughters that they are going to hell because they do not accept Jesus.

In real life, Goss is married to a Jewish woman and their children are being raised Jewish. The Aunt Rae episode, Goss told an interviewer, was based on his life, but in his real life things played out differently:

The Aunt Rae situation with the "we're going to hell cuz we're Jews" was taken from my grandmother, but it was very different. She basically gave me pamphlets for Jews for Jesus. She was concerned that she loved Arlene and the kids but she wanted them to be in heaven with her. For a guy like me to go back to West Virginia and tell them that we're raising our kids Jewish and my wife is Jewish, that can't be that hard for people to attach themselves to--I'm sure that there's commonality in that experience.

Sage Rosenfels, shown here in a 2005 picture from when he was with the Miami Dolphins, is a backup quarterback for the Houston Texans this year. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Gridiron Golems

Here is my round-up of this season's NFL Jewish players, prepared with the help of the Jewish Sports Review. Included are players with at least one Jewish parent who were raised Jewish or "nothing" and, when contacted by the Review, had no objection to being included as a Jewish athlete.

The returning players include:

  • Lennie Friedman, a nine-year veteran offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns.
  • David Binn, a long snapper for the San Diego Chargers. Last season Binn was selected for the Pro Bowl. Binn's father is Jewish and his mother is not.
  • Igor Olshansky, a defensive end for the Chargers. Olshansky went to Jewish day school and married his Jewish school sweetheart. He is the first Russian-born player in the NFL.
  • Sage Rosenfels, a backup quarterback for the Houston Texans. Rosenfels has a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother.
  • Mike Seidman, a tight end for the Indianapolis Colts.
  • Mike Rosenthal, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins.
  • Josh Miller, a punter. After being cut by the New England Patriots in August, he was signed by the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 22. He often appears at Jewish community events.
  • Antonio Garay, a defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears. His mother is Jewish.

The one rookie is Adam Podlesh, punter for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Podlesh has played in every game this season.

Almost half of these players have an interfaith background. To the best of my knowledge, none of the players from interfaith backgrounds were raised with any substantial religious background.

Seidman has the most unusual family history. His maternal grandparents are Jewish and his mother was raised Jewish. Mike's paternal grandfather is Jewish and his paternal grandmother is Catholic. Mike's father was raised a Catholic. Mike himself was raised with little religion save for an annual Christmas and Hanukkah celebration.

As readers of my column on baseball player Ryan Braun know, I have been cast in the awkward position of being the "clean-up patrol" for inaccurate info in the Jewish press and elsewhere on the Jewish background of pro athletes.

The only other piece on this season's Jewish NFL players I have seen was in the Canadian Jewish News. Sadly, this article is incomplete--missing some of players listed above--and shot full of errors. (The article is no longer online).

Three players are listed in error in the CJN piece: Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould, St. Louis Rams linebacker Adam Goldberg and former Philadelphia Eagles receiver Jeremy Bloom, a former Olympic skier. I know my sports fan readers are probably curious about one or more of these guys, so I will, once again, "set the record straight."

Gould's parents are not Jewish and he is not Jewish "at all." Goldberg's father is Jewish, but he was raised in his mother's Christian faith. Bloom's father is Jewish, but he was mostly raised by his mother and Jeremy became a devout Christian in high school.

Bloom was cut on Aug. 31, but may end up signing with another team. Jeremy, by the way, is close to his Jewish first cousin Colby Cohen, a top high school hockey player who was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League last year. Colby's mother and Jeremy's father are siblings. Colby grew up in the Philadelphia area and often worked out with Jeremy when Jeremy was with the Eagles. Colby Cohen is now starting his freshman year at Boston University.

Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods.

Nate Bloom writes a weekly column on Jewish celebrities, broadly defined, that appears in the Cleveland Jewish News, the American Israelite of Cincinnati, the Detroit Jewish News, and the New Jersey Jewish Standard. It also appears bi-weekly in j., the Jewish news weekly of northern California. Starting April 2012, a monthly version of his column (featuring relevant "oldies but goodies") will appear in the following Florida newspapers: the Jewish News (Sarasota and Manatee County), the Federation Star (Collier County) and L'Chayim (Lee and Charlotte counties).

The author welcomes questions and celebrity "tips," especially about people you personally know. Write him at middleoftheroad1@aol.com. And feel free to comment below.

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