All of the characters on Seinfeld are Jewish?

So my sister-in-law and her husband is visiting for Mrs. Six’s 21st birthday, and he brings up the subject of the Larry David show “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. He says it’s like Seinfeld, in that the entire cast is Jewish, making it seem as if the entire world is Jewish. I’m not sure what his agenda is with this, but he usually has some conservative political agenda to push in every conversation we have–I think I may be the only Jew he’s ever met and the only liberal he has any association with. I responded with the obvious, which is that the cast of Seinfeld wasn’t all Jewish. He was astounded by this, saying I was the first person he’d met who had this view.

I point out that Elaine is firmly established as being non-Jewish in at least two episodes, and that George’s family used to celebrate Christmas before his father invented Festivus. His response was amazement, and something like “Surely you don’t think Kramer isn’t Jewish” followed in short order by a similar reference to Newman.

So, what are the ethnicities of the “Seinfeld” characters? When and how was this established?

Also, I’ve never seen “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. Does it feature an all Jewish cast of characters? I have my doubts given SIL’s husband’s take on Seinfeld.


I’d be willing to bet that your brother-in-law has what I’ve taken to calling “Stormfront Syndrome”

That is to say, anyone with a Jewish sounding surname is Jewish, no matter how much they may protest.

It’s stupid, but so is the vast majority of their philosophy.

Well, I do know that in one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry gets a live nativity set up at his house for his (one would assume) christian wife. Hilarity ensues.

You’re right about Elaine and George not being Jewish, but the whole gestalt of the characters and the show is Jewish. I wonder if the creators, in fear of alienating some viewers, just arbitrarily made some of the characters officially not Jewish to prevent the show from seeming “too Jewish”. In the same manner, we had Bea Arthur and Estelle Getty, both Jewish, playing Italian-Americans on The Golden Girls. I wish producers and television executives would stop underestimating viewers.

Jerry’s Jewish, right? George became Russian Orthodox for a while, and Elaine was told that she had Shik’s (sp?) appeal (the appeal of a non-jewish woman to jewish boys).

With Kramer and Newman, who really cares? Why assume that they are, just because Jerry and (I think) Larry David are.

I think Kramer is probably an agnostic or an atheist, and Newman, of course, is pure evil.

Isn’t Benes a spanish name?

I’m not quite sure what you mean here.

I knew someone like this once. Everything was a conspiracy involving the Jews, especially relating to hollywood and the media. From the outside I don’t think he ever became anti-semetic because he remained an ardent supporter of Israel. I think his venom was geared more towards pop culture. Either way, the guy is not like that anymore at all. Just a phase, kenny, just a phase.

Could be, but in this case, isn’t. There was an episode in which Elaine dates a man who she thinks is (marginally) black (in that he may be bi, tri, or multiracial). They each think they are in a mixed race relationship, because, according to him, “Your last name is Benes…and you kept taking me to all those Spanish restaurants…” To which Elaine emphatically proclaims she’s not Spanish.


I am just a fountain of information today! I have the Entertainment Weekly magazine that is “The Definitive Viewer’s Guide”. In it is an article titled, “The Jewish Question” They call George “the most Jewish non-Jew in TV history”. Basically they say that while George exhibits all of the Jewish stereotypes, he does not admit to being a Jew. Jerry is Jewish, no question about that one. And Elaine is not Jewish. The above description of Elaine having “shiks-appeal” is mentioned. Kramer is just mentioned in passing as, “a man who appears to have been born with no religion in a galaxy far, far away…”

I believe he bacame Latvian Orthodox.

Are the actors Jewish in real life? I’m wondering if the man in the OP was suggesting this.

Mr. Costanza was of Italian descent (there was an episode where he tried to track down a cousin in Italy), so George may have been raised Catholic.

However, early on in the series, when Elaine’s Norman-Maileresque father went to dinner with Jerry and George, he made a reference to “Jew” or “the Jews”. Does anyone remember if he called both men Jews, or just Jerry? The writers may have changed George from a Jew to an Italian.

If so, it’s my opinion that it would be more to bring in jokes like Mr. Costanza in Italy, George converting to Latvian orthodox et al, rather than a calculated effort to gentilize the characters.

Michael Richards is the only non-Jew in the cast.

You can be Jewish and Italian. So George’s Italian heritage proves nothing. But overall the Costanza’s appear to be/have been Christian.

Elaine went to a Catholic high school. She clearly had been raised a Catholic. The only person I know with the last name Benes is French.

Even Jerry’s Jewish background very rarely was mentioned. He was also not terribly observant. E.g., he ate lobster in the “And then there’s Maude” episode. Everyone ate the lobster except his girlfriend Rachel. I don’t recall Jerry ever observing any Sabbath restriction.

Hmmm…I don’t want to fall into the wrong camp, but if pressed I would have said Jerry AND George were Jewish. EW is right, then. He is the most Jewish non-Jew character in TV history.

WAIT! What about the Nazi Limo episode?

I think George is Jewish. There was some episode I remember which made me pretty convinced he was Jewish, but I can’t remember which episode it was.

Wow, I always felt the Costanza’s were supposed to be the stereotypical Jewish parents.

One thing for certain, Puddy isn’t Jewish. Unless his Jesus fish was for irony. Which reminds me, Elaine, if she wasn’t Jewish, definitely wasn’t Christian. Either that or just vehemently opposed to expressions of religion.

The only regular or reoccuring characters on Seinfeld that are expressly Jewish are Jerry and his parents. The Costanzas were not supposed to be Jewish. As was mentioned, they celebrated Xmas.

Larry and his best friend/agent on Curb are Jewish but Larry’s wife is not. The fact that Larry has a non-Jewish wife is the root of much of the humor. Many of the actors on Curb play themselves (Ted Danson, Jason Alexander, Michael Caine…) so they are whatever religion they are in real life.

Anyway, why shouldn’t the creators of a show create something that mirrors their own experience. It’s like saying that Spike Lee only plays Black characters. Yeah, so?


Well, let’s face facts: the entire series is based on the lives of two New York Jewish comedians (Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld) and their circle of friends (practically all of whom are ALSO Jewish comedians from New York).

So, for all practical purposes, YES! Seinfeld is an all-Jewish show. They made a few characters Gentile, presumaby to expand the show’s appeal, but even the nominally Gentile characters represent comical Jewish stereotypes.

Even if his name is Italian, George Costanza is OBVIOUSLY meant to represent Larry David, and everything about him (his mannerisms, his neurotic family) is stereotypically Jewish.

Even if she’s nominally Catholic, Elaine Benes is supposed to represent Seinfeld’s pal, Jewish comedienne Carol Leifer, and is played by a Jewish actress.

Now, unlike the friend mentioned in the OP, this doesn’t bother me in the least! I’m not Jewish, but I thought the show was hilarious- and it wouldn’t have been ANY funnier to me if they’d added an Irish-American character. For Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, this is real life. They’re Jewish New Yorkers who associate primarily with other Jewish New Yorkers. Why try to Goy-ify a fundamentally Jewish show?

(Not that it hasn’t been done before. “The Dick Van Dyke Show” SHOULD have been the most Jewish sitcom ever- after all, it was based on characters who were ALL Jewish (Rob Petrie was supposed to be Carl Reiner, Alan Brady was supposed to be Sid Caesar, etc.). That’s because it was inspired by life on the set of “Your Show of Shows,” and practically EVERYBODY involved in that show was Jewish! Instead, with the casting of WASP-y Dick Van Dyke, the Jewishness of the show was played down.

Now, in my opinion, to change OBVIOUSLY Jewish characters into Gentiles was silly and unncecessary. A Gentile in those circles would be like Marisa Tomei on “A Different World”- completely out of place. Maybe network executives insisted that “A Different World” HAD to have a white girl, because they thought white people wouldn’t watch an all-black show. I imagine the networks might also have told Seinfeld and David that their cast was “too Jewish,” and that they needed some non-Jewish characters.

But in real life, a white girl doesn’t BELONG in a show about an all-black college. And Gentiles don’t BELONG in a show about a clique of Jewish comedians.

A time-honored tradition. For some reason, Jews are “better” at playing Italians than. . . Italians? Especially gangster types. Edward G. and Harvey K. come to mind.