Chelsea Handler: I chose to be Jewish because ‘Mormonism is so ridiculous’

In conversation with Judy Blume, the comedian told the author that she ‘really related’ to her books as a child


Comedian Chelsea Handler told Jewish author Judy Blume that her novels helped her embrace her Jewish faith when she was growing up.

Speaking at the 2020 Makers Conference in Los Angeles, Ms Handler, 44, said Ms Blume's coming-of-age novel Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? resonated with her when she discovered her mother wasn’t Jewish.

“I related to that kind of conflict of religion,” Handler said in conversation with the author.

In the book, the protagonist struggles growing up in an interfaith family. “At that time, I just found out my mom was Mormon, on top of thinking she was Jewish, so it was a very confusing time. But your books were such a reprieve for me and such a joy.”

She added: “I grew up as a Jew and Mormon… so we had to choose and I chose Jewish, obviously, because Mormonism is so ridiculous.”

Ms Handler’s father, Seymour, was Ashkenazi Jewish. Her family was raised in the Reform movement and Ms Handler had a bat mitzvah as a teen.

Ms Blume, 82, was one of the first authors to write young adult fiction about taboo topics such as teen sex, birth control and menstruation. Her books have sold more than 82 million copies.

Ms Blume spoke about her Jewish father’s influence on her: “He was the parent that I looked up to, he was the parent that I identified with most. He was like, ‘Go for it, shoot for the moon.’”

“Unfortunately, he died suddenly when I was 21 and he was 54. I lost him. I lost that great promoter.”

She also said she had been “losing it” as a mother in her 20s “until I found my way with creative work.

“It could have been anything, but I was home and I had stories inside my head. And that’s how it started.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive