Aha! Rachel Green Is A Jew!

I’ve wondered for a long time if Rachel and her family were lapsed Jews. Green could easily be short for Greenberg, Greenbaum, or Greenspan. Sure, she celebrates Christmas but so do Ross and Monica who we know are Jewish. But, just now, Rachel was describing her grandmother

‘Has no sense of personal space, looks like a potato’
“Spuds is your grandmother?”
“Yes! That’s my bubby!”

Bubby is the Yiddish word for grandmother. I consider this final proof that Rachel is Jewish. This, of course, makes Emma Jewish as well.

The question has bugged me for years, and I’m glad to finally have an answer.


My Irish (and very)Catholic Grandmother uses a lot of Yiddish words, picked up from living in Manhatten her whole life. So I dunno if having a New Yorker use a single Yiddish word is very strong evidence of their being Jewish.

If it were putz, klutz, chutpah, shlep, or even one of the conjugations of oy, I’d agree with you. But I know of no gentile who calls their grandmother bubby.

Not quite the same, but I call my young son Bubby sometimes. I’m as lapsed Irish Catholic as it gets. Agree that the use of one word does not a Jew make. And besides, she was a character in a show. Perhaps the scriptwriter was Jewish?

Well, it’s not conclusive proof, but it’s interesting. She certainly reminds me of many of the Jewish girls I grew up with on Long Island. (I’m Jewish too, but wasn’t the princess sort.) And Ron Liebman plays her father, and he’s not exactly Mister Gentile. The nose job, the desire to marry a dentist … all very familiar traits for Jewish Female Character Type.

Also there’s Phoebe’s holiday song, where she sings:

Of course, she was desperate for a ‘rhyme’ for rachel – and she later sings happy Chanukah to Chandler, who’s not Jewish. Let’s face it, using PhoebeLogic for proof of anything is a foolish quest!

Further indications: remember that Rachel and Barry were engaged. Barry’s last name was originally Finkle, but then changed to Farber. Both of those are definitely Jewish names. So Rachel seems to have been engaged only to Jewish men.

Except for Joey, whose proposal she accepted, although he never really proposed and the engagement only occurred in her mind. :slight_smile:

Of course Rachel was Jewish.

The shocking thing, IMO, was that Ross and Monica *weren’t *Jewish, strictly speaking. I mean, Eliot Gould is Jewish enough to count for two parents, but I doubt that holds much halachic water.

The big question is this - was Richard, the character played by Tom Selleck, supposed to be Jewish?

Sure they were Jewish. Remember that time Ross went all nuts about making sure Ben celebrated Hannukah in addition to Christmas, and wound up with the armadillo costume?

Granted, they weren’t exactly observant, but most theoretically Christian TV characters aren’t very observant either, unless the plot of the week calls for it of course. Shows about preachers not withstanding.

As for Rachel, the whole “nose job” subplot in flashback episodes also seems like something lazy TV writers would use to indicate “Jew”.

I’m pretty sure their mother wasn’t Jewish, which means that technically, they weren’t either.

It appears to me that, given which actors play the parents, both Rachel and Ross and Monica are supposed to have Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers.

Just some food for thought:

An article from some years back on the confused ethnic backgrounds of some various characters.

Ironically, Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox are not Jewish while Lisa Kudrow is.

Calling the Grandmother “bubbie” doesn’t prove Rachel is Jewish - it could indicate simply that the grandmother is Jewish.