“Perhaps even more than Sanskrit letters and Chinese symbols (which are equally foreign to most of the people who have them emblazoned on their skin), Hebrew tattoos hold mysterious allure,” wrote Marjorie Ingall in 2014. The trend of Hebrew tattoos in Hollywood is right up there with plastic surgery and divorces, but Ingall’s list of Hebrew-donning celebs only found two of the 13 to actually be Jewish. She argued that it seems to be a “largely Christian phenomenon.” But three years later, we have some Jewish celebrities to add to the ever-growing list of the rich, famous, and hebraically tatted.
Adam Bisnowaty was drafted this past April for the Giants as an offensive lineman, and he’s been asked a lot at training camp what the weird symbols on his arm mean. “I always tell ’em it’s the symbol for who I am and what I believe in,” he told The New York Post. His bicep reads ehiyeh asher ehiyeh, or “I am that I am.” It’s what God tells Moses at the burning bush after Moses asks what to call him. “I’m really big on who I am and what I hold myself accountable for and kind of the way I live life,” he told the Post. “In the Torah, you have it related to God, it’s also the other aspect of being able to have something kinda higher than you.” Bisnowaty is proudly Jewish; his father is Israeli and his grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
A post shared by Jesse Wellens (@jessewelle) on Aug 7, 2016 at 12:29pm PDT
YouTube Star Jesse Wellens has 10 million subscribers and almost 2 billion views on his channel, PrankvsPrank. In his prank videos and vlogs you can often spot the flashy Jewish star on his pec. It’s accompanied with the words “never again” underneath, the trope of commemorating and denouncing the crimes of the Holocaust. Wellens explained in this 2012 video on Tumblr that he was inspired to get the tattoo after hearing Jewish rapper Remedy’s song “Never Again.” He also says in the video that he’s not actually Jewish, but that it’s “in his heritage”—his father’s side is Jewish. And in this other 2012 video, he does call himself Jewish. So we’ll take it as a win for the Jews, especially when Wellens continues to show it off in pictures like this.
Jonathan Lipnicki is best known for his roles as a child star in Jerry Maguire and Stuart Little. But now the 26 year-old is grown up, ripped, and showing off his giant torso Magen David tattoo. No Hebrew here, but it’s a pretty loud statement from a celebrity who’s otherwise stayed under the radar, both from the public eye and from talking about his Jewish identity.
Jews can keep on debating whether we should be inked or not inked, but as long as Jewish-inspired tattoos are out there, we’ll be proud to have them on actual Jews.
Sophie Aroesty is an editorial intern at Tablet.