Michael Rapaport’s Jewish background

The actor posts daily messages of solidarity with the Jewish state on social media and visited Israel in December.
U.S. actor Michael Rapaport speaks during a rally with the families of hostages and their supporters outside The Museum of Art known as the 'The Hostages and Missing Square' on December 16, 2023 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Some of the videos in this article contain vulgar language.

Michael Rapaport has been very outspoken about his support for Israel since Oct. 7. The actor posts daily messages of solidarity with the Jewish state on social media and visited Israel in December. He also spoke at the March for Israel in Washington, D.C.

Michael Rapaport speaks during the March For Israel at the National Mall on November 14, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

What is behind Rapaport’s connection to Israel? Is Michael Rapaport Jewish?

Read more: Who are the celebrities supporting Israel during the war?

The basics

Michael Rapaport was born on March 20, 1970, in New York City to Ashkenazi Jewish parents. His mother June Brody was a New York radio personality, and his father David Rapaport was a radio executive. 

The actor and comedian is best known for portraying Pheobe Buffay’s cop boyfriend on “Friends” and Doug Gardner on “Atypical.” 

He is currently the host of the “I Am Rapaport Stereo Podcast” and performs as a stand-up comedian in comedy clubs, where he is known for his crude sense of humor and affinity for cursing.

Michael Rapaport performs at The Stress Factory Comedy Club on August 12, 2021 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Photo by Bobby Bank/Getty Images)

Rapaport’s connection to Judaism grew over time

Although Rapaport is outspoken about his Jewish identity and pride today, he didn’t always feel this connected with his faith.

In an interview with the Guardian in 2022, Rapaport said he prioritized basketball practice over Hebrew school. He revealed that he only realized he was 100% Ashkenazi after he did a 23andme DNA test during the COVID pandemic.

Rapaport now wears a Magen David necklace every day and talks about how proud he is to be Jewish in interviews and online.

The actor also wishes his Instagram followers Shabbat Shalom every week, interspersed with unfiltered thoughts on the Israel-Hamas war:

He recently started putting on tefillin

After Oct. 7, Rapaport took on a new mitzvah — putting on tefillin. He told Ynet News: “I’ve tried to do as much as I can because I know what it means. I’m actually going to go to Brooklyn tomorrow and do it in the Hasidic neighborhood.”

He supports Israel on social media

Posting videos about Israel and rising antisemitism almost daily, Rapaport is one of the most outspoken celebrities supporting Israel. On a recent trip to Israel, he visited Kibbutz Be’eri and shared footage of the damage he saw there:

Rapaport frequently uses his platform to advocate for the release of the 132 hostages remaining in Gaza. “Time is running out for the hostages,” he said in one post. “We need to do everything we can to bring them home.”

In January 2024, after an image of female hostages circulated online, he posted on Instagram with the caption, “Look at these young women. Look at their faces. Look at their fear. SAY THEIR NAMES. We demand their freedom NOW!”

He commemorated 100 days since Oct. 7 on social media and wears a sticker every day marking the number of days that have passed since the massacre. 

On day 102, he said on Instagram, “Hamas, Hamas you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”

He recently visited Israel for the first time

Rapaport visited Israel for the first time in December 2023. During his trip, he met with hostage families and wounded soldiers. He also visited kibbutzim that were destroyed on Oct. 7 and the site of the Nova Festival massacre. 

He spoke at Hostage Square in Tel Aviv in front of hundreds of people. During his speech, he emphasized the need to bring home the hostages immediately and criticized the Red Cross for not doing enough to help.

He encouraged Jews of all backgrounds to “stick together, be nice to each other, smile at each other…stand tall, stand proud, stand stronger than ever.”

During the trip, the comedian also hosted a comedy night in Tel Aviv, where he poked fun at Hamas and antisemitic media. Proceeds from the event went to Bring Them Home, a charity that supports hostage families.

Speaking to i24 News about his trip, Rapaport said, “The emotional journey here has been profound. It’s not the typical tourist experience, but being here has been unexpectedly moving.”

Rapaport said he has never felt more Jewish than now

In November 2023, Rapaport remarked that he feels the most connected to Judaism than he’s ever been. Speaking to Ynet News, the comedian elaborated:

“I get threatened on social media, with all the stereotypes and the tropes and the prejudices against Jewish people. One thing that is true, and it is a good thing, is that we do stick together. Seeing the people stick together and come together makes me more proud and makes me more conscious and makes me more strong.”

He is passionate about fighting antisemitism

Rapaport is passionate about fighting against antisemitism and all forms of hate. In October 2022, Rapaport spoke out against Kanye West and Kyrie Irving’s antisemitic behavior, on his podcast and Instagram.

In the aftermath of Oct. 7, he told Ynet News, “The world for Jewish people and the world for the people of Israel is changed forever because of this. It’s been so dramatic and traumatic, exhausting. And it’s frightening. I wouldn’t be myself if I wasn’t saying something, for better or for worse.” 

As a Jewish celebrity, he feels an extra responsibility to fight antisemitism, saying that the “anti-Jewish activism that’s displayed openly, viscerally, proudly” concerns him.

He remarked that he has noticed antisemitism morphing and becoming more acceptable, something he never experienced in his life growing up in New York. 

But he maintains a hopeful stance. “We’re not going anywhere; Jewish people are not going anywhere,” he told i24NEWS.

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