For years, Dustin Hoffman, who is currently onscreen with Will Ferrell and Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction, would avoid being associated with Jewish things, but these days he’s more relaxed about his identity.
In an interview with Stars of David author Abigail Pogrebin, LA-Born Hoffman, 69, revealed his non-religious upbringing and their home having a “Chanukah Bush” around the time of Christmas.
“My father later told me he was an atheist. About the time I realized we were Jews, maybe when I was about ten,” he recalled. “I went to the delicatessen and ordered bagels and draped them around the tree.”
Only when The Hoff married his second wife, Lisa Gottsegen in the early 1980s, did he start to embrace his Jewish identity.
“My wife changed everything,” the star of Rainman and Wag The Dog revealed. “Two sons barmitzvahed, two daughters batmitzvahed.”
But his new-found connection with his religion came at a cost - his years of lack of interest means he can’t read Hebrew too well.
“I have no one to blame but myself, because I could have learned it. Every one of my kids that has had a bar- or batmitzvah, I’ve had to learn my part phonetically — it’s uncomfortable for me,” he says.
When he was younger, The Hoff’s mother suggested he should have some work done on his hooter, but it wasn’t for him. “My mother asked me to. When I was a teenager, when she got her nose job, I remember she wanted me to get one, too. She said I would be happier.”
Courtesy of Something Jewish