Ever since Nickelodeon announced that they are bringing back their popular 1990s shows for a nostalgic rerun on the TeenNick channel, the web has been oozing with green slime, from people in their mid 20s sharing their love for the worry-less decade and its children programming masterpieces.
Ahh, the 90s. What a great decade.
MTV still had music, AOL was still cool, Dennis Rodman was a pop culture idol, Clinton was in charge and television was great, especially for teenagers. Since we didn’t have the internet , we didn’t really know much, except for what we learned when we were watching TV. And we watched a lot of it, especially Nickelodeon.
But what not many of us knew, is how much Jewish influence those shows had.
Hope your green slime is Kosher, because 6noBacon prepared a list of everything that’s Jewish about 90s Nick!
Boris and Minka Kerpacketer (Rugrets)
The popular animated show about the life and adventures of eight toddlers, was pretty groundbreaking as far its portrayal of Judaism.
Tommy Pickles, the leader of the baby pack is half Jewish. His grand parents from his mother’s side, Boris and Minka, are both practicing Jews, who partake in many Jewish activities throughout the show and have very heavy Yiddish accents.
The Rugrets had a Passover special (where everyone went to Boris and Minka’s for a Seder) and a Hanukkah special. In each episode the babies and their parents told the story of the Holiday by portraying the characters. The grandparents are based on the family of Arlene Klasky, one of the co-createors of Rugrats, and the voice of Minka is Melanie Chartoff, who is also Jewish.
While the show’s Jewish specials were highly regarded and even got an Emmy nominations, the super-Jewey portrayal of the grandparents was sometimes criticized, even by the ADL.
Harold berman (hey arnold!)
The animated show about middle schoolers with weird-shaped heads also a Jewish character, Harold Berman. The unibrow, overweight, funny looking Berman is a pretty complex character. He is constantly teased about his weight, and is also considered the school bully, though he is quite cowardly.
Harold’s Judaism is revealed in an episode where he cannot play because he has to study for his Bar Mitzvah (although the kids are supposed to be 4th graders). He has issues with becoming a man because he thinks he is not ready for it quite yet.
the characters of salute your shorts
The summer camp show, which only lasted two seasons, doesn’t have a direct Jewish reference. However, a quick look at the last names of the characters reveals an interesting common denominator (maybe that was the inspiration for Wet Hot American Summer?). Among the campers you can find Z.Z. Ziff, Eddie Gelfen, Michael Stein, Ronnie Pinsky, and Bobby Budnick. Coincidence?
FILBURT THE TURTLE (Rocko’s Modern life)
Another ambiguously Jewish character is Filbury. the lovable four-eyed turtle from the cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life. His charachter is very Woody Allen-esque. He is neurotic, dorky and a major hypochondriac. Filburt is a good friend with Rocko, the main character who’s an Australian Wallaby, and Heffer the bull. He is married to Dr, Paula Hutchinson, a cat who has a hook for a hand and has 4 children.
Jewish actors and actresses
Bynes joined the cast of All That, the children’s sketch show that became one of Nickelodeon’s biggest anchors in the 90s. Her mother is Jewish, and she has also said in a few interviews that she considers herself to be Jewish. After All That, Amanda got her own spin-off, The Amanda Show, and later starred in the sitcom What I Like About You and in the soccer movie She’s the Man and most recently in Easy A. A few months ago, Amanda announced on her twitter she is retiring from acting, but since then she decided to pursue acting again.
Before she was a successful actress in shows like Gossip Girl, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and in the movie Eurotrip, Trachtenberg, who comes from a both a Jewish and Christian family, first appeared in the classic 90s show, The Advantures of Pete & Pete. On the show, which in my opinion is one of the best children shows ever created (and certainly ahead of its time), she played Nona F. Mecklenberg, Young Pete’s love interest. Trachtenberg’s was born and raised in Brooklyn, and her grandparents live in Israel.
Peck grew up with his Jewish mother in Manhattan, and started his acting career along with Amanda Bynes in The Amanda Show. After the show was canceled, he was cast to play Josh Nichols together with Drake Parker in the popular mid-2000s Nickelodeon show Drake & Josh. Peck was the heavier of the two, but later lost a lot of weight. He is currently working on yet another sequel to Ice Age.
The Nickelodeon children version of American Gladiators had an international competition that featured kids from all over the world, including Israel (in collaboration with Arutz HaYeladim, the Israeli Children’s Channel). Israel actually won a gold medal in Global Guts before it one an olympic gold medal.
Watch Adam Sheffer of Israel win the firs gold medal, and an interesting version of HaTikva in the background.