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Actress Mayim Bialik at the 19th Annual Art Directors Guild Excellence In Production Design Awards in Beverly Hills, California, January 31, 2015. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
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Mayim Bialik on Her Faith, Visiting Israel, and Modesty

‘I think in general it’s never going to be trendy to be observant or religious in Hollywood circles’

by
Jas Chana
August 24, 2015
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Actress Mayim Bialik at the 19th Annual Art Directors Guild Excellence In Production Design Awards in Beverly Hills, California, January 31, 2015. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Emmy award-winning actress, neuroscientist, and Tablet contributing editor Mayim Bialik recently sat down for an interview with Fox News, discussing everything from her sense of style to Hollywood’s attitude toward religion. Here are some highlights.

Although Bialik doesn’t like the “the bureaucracy of organized religion,” she said she has “an unwavering faith in a power greater than myself and I don’t think that will change any more than my belief in gravity will change.” She continued to clarify her position as in related to her Jewish observances, saying: “My social media shuts down for [the Sabbath] and sometimes we go to synagogue, sometimes we stay at home and we do [Sabbath dinners]… I believe in [Jewish law] but I also believe in the permeability and changeability in the structure of Jewish law and I think Judaism has always adjusted to the times that it lived in, and it’s adjusting in the time we are in now.”

Bialik continued to elaborate, saying that she studies Jewish texts on a weekly basis in tinseltown, but also mentions that the entertainment industry isn’t completely welcoming to people of faith. “I think in general it’s never going to be trendy to be observant or religious in Hollywood circles,” she said.

Bialik, who earned her Phd in neuroscience in 2007, explained that she is frequently questioned by people who think science and religion are incompatible. “Being a scientist and a person of faith, people want to know how that is,” she said. “It leads to a lot of interesting conversations that I welcome but a lot of people want to open up a conversation just to tell you you’re wrong.”

Bialik said that her faith manifests itself practically: “Being a modest dresser, that for me is a certain amount of my religious faith—privacy and chastity. Just because I have a body, doesn’t mean it means to be on display.” In 2009, Bialik wrote about her clothing choices:

You see, I am what I guess you’d call a Conservadox Jew. I started embracing certain aspects of Jewish modesty, or tzniut, before my second son was born, and although I know many Orthodox women who don’t observe tzniut, the boundaries and framework of privacy it provides appealed to me.

Bialik has just launched a new website called Grok Nation, designed to be a place to share her beliefs and “an online community for people of all ages and backgrounds to dive deep into conversations on contemporary issues.” One such issue is the topic modesty.

“It’s important, especially for children and men and my sons to hear I’m not ashamed of my body,” she said. “I just don’t feel the need to display it with two tiny pieces of fabric when I want to go swimming.”

The actress also reflected on some of the negativity she received from parts of her fanbase following her recent visit to Israel to visit a friend who’s currently serving in the IDF. “[By] simply by going to Israel this summer and saying nothing more than, ‘I’ve gone to Israel,’ I got the same amount of hatred and threats and anti-Semitism for actually making a statement trying to support people whether I like it or not [who] are serving in an army.”

Jas Chana is a former intern at Tablet.

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