Lisa Kudrow Speaks Out On Jewishness, Anti-Semitism


Actor Lisa Kudrow’s relatives lost in the Holocaust, her own experiences with anti-Semitism, and her decision to get a nose job were among the topics she discussed in a lengthy interview with the Saturday Evening Post.

Kudrow is best known for her role on “Friends” as Phoebe Buffay, as well as comedic film roles such as “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” and her Internet series, “Web Therapy,” recently seen on Showtime. But there was nothing funny about the hate she encountered as a student at Vassar College, she said in the interview.

“In college there was more anti-Semitism than before college,” she explained, “Because there were people who never met a Jew before. A friend of mine, when she found out I was Jewish, said, ‘Really? Oh, I don’t like Jews.’”

She mentioned taking Jewish history classes and learning Hebrew during her time at Vassar, as well as asking Elie Wiesel for his autograph. (“How do you get any bigger than that?”).

Kudrow lost much of her family in the Holocaust, and spoke about how being on the PBS geneaology program “Who Do You Think You Are?” helped her to confront this trauma.

“In my fully denial state of mind it was, ‘No, no, we’re not part of the Holocaust.’ But I learned we are,” she said.

Poignantly, Kudrow also spoke about getting rhinoplasty when she was 16.

“That was life-altering,” she said. “I went from, in my mind, hideous, to not hideous.”

This insecurity is a common trope in American Jewish history, from celebrities to Brenda Patimkin from Philip Roth’s “Goodbye Colmbus.” Nose jobs were a far more common practice in the 1970s among Jewish women than today.

Kudrow’s “Friends” co-star David Schwimmer, who played Ross Geller on the long-running series, has also spoken out about facing anti-Semitism in his youth.