Life & Culture

People on Twitter refuse to believe that Rachel Sennott isn't Jewish

The Shiva baby star has confused fans since her debut


AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 11: (L-R) Writers Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott attend the "Bottoms" screening during the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at The Paramount Theater on March 11, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Rachel Sennott shot to fame in 2021, starring in the very Jewish, very anxious Shiva Baby. A claustrophobic, stifling feature, packed with Jewish themes and Jewish actors, it had many viewers questioning whether Sennott was actually Jewish.

Rachel Sennott was born in 1995 in a suburb in Simsbury, Connecticut. The actor was raised in an Italian/Irish home by parents Donna Virzi and Jack Sennott. Despite her very Jewish look and mannerisms, both of her parents are Catholics and she was raised in their faith.

In 2020 she tweeted: "Sending the haters nothing but love because I was raised Catholic and Catholicism is all about being condescending."

Shiva Baby stars Sennott as a bisexual Jewish woman, lambasted by her family for her directionless path in life and compared to her ex-girlfriend Maya, an accomplished law student. The themes of the film are incredibly Jewish, and in an interview with the Guardian Sennott said there was a "lot of crossover" between her Italian family experience and the Jewish one portrayed on screen.

Ironically Dianna Agron, typecast as a typical blonde gentile woman is of Ukrainian Jewish descent, whose original family name Agronsky.

In making the film, Sennott worked closely with director Emma Seligman. Seligman, who is Jewish, was raised in a Reform Ashkenazi community in Toronto.

Seligman told the Cut magazine in 2020 that she was inspired by her Jewish upbringing, saying: "I always gravitated towards writing scenes and events that took place at Jewish family functions, just because it felt so ingrained in my blood.

"My sister and I were the youngest of my generation in a very, very big extended family, so my social life up until I was 18 was middle-aged Jews."

In taking the role of Danielle in Shiva Baby, Sennott faced some accusations of "Jewface" a controversial phenomenon where some non-Jewish actors face some backlash for playing Jewish roles.

Over on social media, many have expressed their amazement that Sennott has no Jewish heritage, saying that her aesthetic and ability to play Jewish characters is uncanny.

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