5 unexpected Jewish moments from the Oscars

Gabe Friedman

Sarah Silverman speaking onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Feb. 28, 2016. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Sarah Silverman speaking onstage during the 88th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, Feb. 28, 2016. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

This year’s Academy Awards were predictably defined by the debate over the lack of diversity among the nominees. Host Chris Rock and multiple award presenters kept the theme running throughout most of Sunday night’s show.

Jews got in on the joke, and contributed a few surprising Jewish moments too. Below, we give you five times Jews stole the show on Hollywood’s biggest night.

1. Sarah Silverman explains her James Bond “mishegas”

The Jewish comedian has never appeared in a James Bond film — but as a presenter, she related the “mishegas” she experienced after having “intercourse with James Bond followed by never hearing from him again.” She chalked up her fictional Bond rendezvous to the fact that 007 might have a thing for “heavy Jewish boobs.”


2. Sacha Baron Cohen brings back Ali G 

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Sacha Baron Cohen — the Jewish mastermind of the beloved comedic characters Borat and Bruno, among others — was not involved in any of the nominated films this year, but that didn’t stop him from making a splash. He resurrected his old character Ali G (of “Da Ali G Show”) as a presenter to tackle the diversity issue. “I know what you was thinkin’ when I walked on: Here comes another token black presenter,” the white comedian said. He went on to ask why there weren’t any Oscar nominations for “all people of all colors,” like “them very hard working little yellow people with tiny dongs.” He clarified: “You know, the minions [from the popular animated film “Despicable Me”].”

3. “Son of Saul” gets a curious send-off

It was a triumphant night for the team behind “Son of Saul,” the Hungarian Holocaust film that won Best Foreign Language Film. But when the movie’s Jewish director Laszlo Nemes was ushered off the stage to “Ride of the Valkyries” — a composition by the notoriously anti-Semitic German composer Richard Wagner — the questionable juxtaposition was blasted on Twitter.

4. “The Big Short” writer thanks his wife — in Hebrew

Charles Randolph won the Best Adapted Screenplay award for his work on “The Big Short.” The non-Jewish writer punctuated his acceptance speech in a Jewish way — with a salute to his Israeli actress wife, Mili Avital, in Hebrew. “Ani ohev otach, Mili [I love you, Mili],” he said.

5. Jack Black steals Will Smith’s spotlight

When Chris Rock introduced a video of Angela Bassett entitled the Oscars’ “Black History Month Minute,” the audience was expecting a tribute to actor Will Smith. Bassett began to rattle off a series of Smith’s accomplishments and films he had starred in.

“We honor someone who has shattered barriers with his groundbreaking performances,” she said.

But in the end, the mystery subject of the video turned out to be none other than Jewish comedian Jack Black, whose career has a surprising amount of overlap with Smith’s.

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