by Jana Banin
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (JTA)—Last month marked the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, which is entering its 40th season. Happy birthday guys! To mark the occasion, we’ve assembled a list of our 10 all-time favorite Jewish moments on SNL (they’re like butter, so good Coffee Talk and Hanukkah Harry didn’t make the cut):
10. Saving ‘Soviet Jewelry’
Gilda Radner scores as Emily Litella on a Chevy Chasehosted Weekend Update segment, with her classic talking-head rant trying to figure out what all the fuss is about over Soviet Jewelry.
Best line: “Save Soviet jewelry?! Where are we going to put it? I say keep it over THERE, with all their ballet dancers!”
9. Jonah Hill as Evan Grossman
Meet Evan, a 6-year-old from a broken home who frequents Benihana and communicates entirely via Borscht Belt jokes.
Best line, delivered to the chef: “I love your showmanship but careful with those knives, you’re giving me flashbacks to my bris. I don’t know if I should clap or cover my shmeckle!”
8. Jewish Willy Wonka
In 2011, Ben Stiller hosted just as Yom Kippur was coming to a close. Naturally, after all the fasting, he was feeling rather woozy during his monologue—so woozy he conjured up Jewish Willy Wonka (Andy Samberg). The two traveled together to a world full of giant pickles and mustard. Singing ensued.
Best line: “You’re in a magical world of Jewish foods. It’s every taste you’ve ever imagined, from salty to fishy.
7. Iran so far
In this Digital Short from 2007, Andy Samberg, Adam Levine and Jake Gyllenhaal join forces to serenade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—with genius results.
Best line: “You can deny the Holocaust all you want, but you can’t deny that there’s something between us.”
6. Sabra ‘Price Is Right’
Tom Hanks channels his inner shady, pushy Israeli as Uri, a game-show host who tries to convince contestants that the merchandise they see is not as crappy as it appears to be.
Best line: “Watch him,” Uri says to his lackey (pre-Zohan Adam Sandler) when Chris Rock takes the stage.
5. Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy explains Chanukah
Weekend Update is paid a visit by our favorite 13-year-old (Vanessa Bayer), who gives dreidels and gifts his signature awkward bimah speech treatment.
Best accessory: The oversized Yankees yarmulke.
Best line: “It’s no Xbox 360!”
4. Elijah the Prophet attends a Passover seder
This version of Elijah (Jerry Seinfeld circa 1992) doesn’t just slip in for a sec and take an obligatory sip of wine. He pulls up a chair, demands something better than Manischewitz and cracks a bunch of jokes (some corny, some dirty).
Best line: “What is this, a matzah ball? Or are you going to put a chain on it and demolish a building?”
3. Drake’s bar mitzvah rap
Anyone wondering if Drake would play the Jewish card during his stint as SNL host in 2014 didn’t have to wait long for an answer. He began his opening monologue with a bio (black, Jewish, Canadian, former star of Degrassi: The Next Generation) and closed it with a flashback of a rap he performed at his bar mitzvah.
Best line: “Please don’t forget I’m black, please, don’t forget I’m Jewish/I play ball like LeBron and I know what a W-2 is.”
2. Jewess Jeans
A lot of what Radner did felt Jewish on some basic level, but there was nothing more hilariously overt than this 1980 fake ad for Jewess Jeans, a parody of a Jordache commercial.
The best line is the tag line: “You don’t have to be Jewish. But it wouldn’t hurt.”
1. “The Hanukkah Song”
A bunch of centuries after the original Chanukah miracle, Adam Sandler bestowed upon the Jewish people a second one. This modern Maccabee, if you will, appeared on Weekend Update in 1994 and belted out a clever, catchy tune that became an anthem of Jewish pride, calling all tribe members to put on their yarmulkes and tell their friend Veronica that Chanukah is not just a sad little holiday that exists in the shadow of Christmas but something special in its own right. Something special that happens to be observed by a lot of famous people.
Best line: “Paul Newman’s half Jewish, Goldie Hawn is too, put them together what a fine-looking Jew.”