I've been feeling a lot of Chicago pride lately— the Bulls are finally playing [and winning] again and all of the fun things to do in the city during the winter season (despite this week's snowstorm) make me actually want to be here instead of somewhere warm. And not only is Chicago chock full of cool stuff, but plenty of cool people are from/live here…even some Jewish celebs in the sports, entertainment and music industries. Don't call me yenta did some research on these folks and here's my list of the top 10 Jewish Chicago celebs by category.
Jeremy Piven- Probably the most famous name on this list, I think I'll start here. Not only is Jeremy a local boy—he grew up in Evanston—but his parent's co-founded the Piven Theatre Workshop, a Chicago institution responsible for training not just Jeremy Piven, but John and Joan Cusack, Aidan Quinn, Lili Taylor, Kate Walsh and many others.
Best known for playing one of the most famous Jewish characters on TV—Ari Gold on Entourage—people sometimes have a hard time separating Jeremy from his character.
Harold Ramis- "If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS!" Need I say more? Not only did Harold play Egon Spengler in the Ghostbusters movies, but he also co-wrote the films and a slew of others, including Stripes, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and Analyze This. Bonus information! My alma mater Highland Park High School hosts a program called Focus on the Arts every two years and Harold has in the past appeared as a speaker. Way to keep up the Chicago pride, Harold!
Mandy Patinkin- Best-known for his film role as Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride, Patinkin could also appear on this list as a musician. He is a tenor vocalist and appeared in such shows as Yentl. Currently Mandy appears on the series Homeland.
The Savage brothers- Whether you were a Wonder Years or Boy Meets World fan, there's no denying that Fred and Ben are both adorable, nice Jewish boys from Chicago. 'nough said.
Jeff Tweedy- Lead singer of Chicago based alternative rock band Wilco, Jeff is a longtime member of the Chicago community. Wilco has released eight albums and Tweedy has been the recipient of two Grammy awards. Chicago facts: Wilco has headlined Lollapalooza and played at the opening of Millennium Park. Bonus information! We interviewed Jeff's son Spencer awhile back for the blog Oy!Chicago. Check out his interview here.
Gabe Carimi- Born in Lake Forest, Gabe makes this list as one of two Jewish Chicago Bears players added to the team rooster for the 2011 season. Gabe actually grew up in Wisconsin in a Jewish home (he fasted on Yom Kippur up until an hour before the Big Ten Conference opener his freshman year) and attended the University of Wisconsin where he was drafted out of college by the Bears in the first round. Injured early on in the season, it remains to be seen how "The Bear Jew" contributes to the team. And check out our JUF News interview with Gabe here.
Adam Podlesh- Another MOT and a new addition to the Chicago Bears, Adam originally hails from Rochester, NY—he was even elected to the Rochester Jewish Sports Hall of Fame—but now he's been welcomed to the Windy City as one of the newest Jewish Chicago celebs. Like most football players, Adam is a tough kid, not only is he a punter on a professional sports team, but he is also a cancer survivor. In 2010, Adam was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland, he had surgery and returned to the field after six weeks without missing a game!
John Scheyer- John is really representing Jews in sports right now as a member of the Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team. John is a Northbook native and graduate of Duke University where he led Duke to a national championship. While he didn't make into the NBA, this yenta still expects to see big things from him.
Colt Cabana- Unless you are into wrestling, I'm going to guess that many of you have never heard of Colt Cabana, but you should. Colt "Boom Boom" Cabana is a professional wrestler and comedian and a nice local Jewish boy formerly known as Scotty Goldman. Most people don't think Jewish when they hear wrestling, but Colt is changing that perception. Check out his story here.
I want to hear from you! Can you think of anyone I'm missing on this list?