Award-winning actor Ed Asner passed away yesterday at the age of 91 in Tarzana, California. Having appeared in almost 300 different films and TV shows, Asner earned seven Emmys, five Golden Globes, and a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. He was a two terms president of the Screen Actors Guild and became a household name on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoff Lou Grant. He was an outspoken and proud Jew, and while his observance changed shape in later life, he was raised an Orthodox Jew. Here are six Orthodox Jewish facts about and quotes from Ed Asner.
- His Hebrew name was Yitzchak. He once said, “My parents were Orthodox Jews. If you were religious, you were given a Hebrew name. My Hebrew name was Yitzhak, which is Isaac, and it was transliterated into Eddie.”
- Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he grew up on the Kansas side of the city. His Ashkenazi Jewish parents immigrated from Russia and Lithuania.
- Asner qualified the Orthodox traditions with which he was raised, but admired them all the same. “We were Midwestern Orthodoxy,” he said. “My mother didn’t wear a sheitel and my father drove to shul. I was raised to believe that giving back to your community is the good and right way above all, and that we were needed to uphold the faith, and if we upheld it, we would be doing right.”
- In 1981, he narrated a 30-minute documentary entitled “Passover,” all about the holiday. It explored how different groups of Jews around the world had seders, as well as specific traditions that were important to each group.
- He was always connected to the idea of being buried in Israel, and was quoted multiple times as saying, “Bury my ashes in Mount Scopus.”
- Asner was a proud Jewish parent, which added to his mission to leave his children with Jewish knowledge. He said that it was important “to pass on this legacy of ‘giving back’ to my children, to fill the vacuum in this sector of Judaism I will leave with my passing.”
- Jew in the City fan Scott Kahn wrote, “My parents were involved in the Maimonides School auction in Boston, and I recall that Ed Asner donated something to the auction because of his admiration for Rav Soloveitchik zt’l (who founded the school).”
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