The Jewish Daily Forward wrote a detailed account of the significant role Jews have played in this commercial and entertainment bonanza. To begin with, just a few years ago Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli and Jewish actor Jesse Heiman “shocked viewers with a lengthy, luscious kiss for a GoDaddy commercial” that was broadcast during the game.
And this year, Israeli seltzer manufacturer SodaStream scored a touchdown by securing Jewish actress Scarlett Johansson as its global spokesperson. The actress made her commercial debut for the company during game time, but her decision to be the SodaStream spokesperson made headlines for weeks and even resulted in a public showdown with Oxfam, for which she also served as a global ambassador of sorts. Johansson has since ended her relationship with OxFam.
In 2001, Jewish actors Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler performed as part of the halftime show, along with the band Aerosmith, which, according to the Forward, boasts a Jewish drummer. Also a performer at the event in past years is Jewish rock guitarist Saul Hudson, aka Guns N’ Roses’ Slash, who, in 2011, performed the GNR hit “Sweet Child o’ Mine.”
Last year, Beyoncé performed at the halftime show and she was wearing a dress designed by Austrian-born Jewish fashion designer Rubin Singer. And this year’s halftime rock stars Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers do not stray from that formula: Mars is Jewish on his Brooklyn-born father’s side; Chili Peppers’ guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is not only Jewish but, according to the Forward, is a “distant relative of PLO terrorism victim Leon Klinghoffer”; Chili Peppers also boasts two Jewish co-founders — the late Israeli-American guitarist Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons, who also drums foror the mostly Jewish rock group The Wallflowers, led by Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan.
Outside of the music performances, the commercials are also a game. Comedian Richard Lewis of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame has made several appearances in Super Bowl ads, including a 1997 spot for Lay’s potato chips and a memorable, and slightly controversial Snickers commercial in 2011 which the Forward describes as Lewis appearing “in a whiny role with fellow Jewish performer Roseanne Barr.”
Fran Drescher of the hit TV show “The Nanny” took a turn promoting Pizza Hut’s new “New Yorker” pizza in 1999, and Pepsi used Bob Dylan’s song “Forever Young” in 2009 — which the Forward contends is a “loose rewording of the Friday night Shabbat blessing over the children.” And don’t forget Kenny G’s sense of humor when, in 2011, the Jewish soft jazz saxophonist allowed himself to be mocked in an ad for Audi.
Now that commercials and musical performances have been covered the actual sport itself can be addressed, for there are in fact a few Jewish athletes in the NFL. Take Brooklyn-born Alan Veingrad, who the Forward says is “now a Chabadnik who goes by the name Shlomo.” Veingrad was an offensive lineman who helped the Dallas Cowboys make it to the Super Bowl in 1993. And Josh Miller from Queens punted for the New England Patriots as they made their way to the big game in 2005.
The Forward doles out a few more noteworthy Jews who have played in the NFL championship game over the years, such as Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Randy “The Rabbi” Grossman (who is reported to have made the most Super Bowl appearances by a Jewish player from 1975-1978), “Miami Dolphins offensive guard Ed Newman (1973, ’82, ’84), San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Harris Barton (1989, ’90, ’95), 49ers tight end John Frank (1985, ’89), Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Bobby Stein (1970), and Los Angeles Raiders defensive end Lyle Alzado (1984),” the Forward reports.