‘I Feel Closer to My Religion,’ American-Jewish Actor Paul Rudd Says Upon Learning of Antisemitism His Grandfather Endured in London After World War II
American-Jewish actor Paul Rudd recently learned about the antisemitism his grandfather experienced in England following World War II.
Rudd discovered facts about his family while taping an upcoming episode of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots.” In a promo video released this week for the segment, which will air on Tuesday, the show’s host — historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr. — presented the 48-year-old actor with a Jewish Telegraphic Agency news brief that was published on Jan. 12, 1947. The clipping was about synagogues in London that received threats by telephone “warning that the structures would be either blown up or burnt down.”
The brief continued, “One of the new fascist groups — Union for British Freedom — held a meeting this week at Edgware, at which Victor Burgess, who was detained during the war as a ‘dangerous person,’ suggested that four British Jews should be flogged publicly.”
Rudd’s grandfather, David Rudnitsky, served five years in the British military during World War II and then returned home to London only to face antisemitism from neighborhood fascist groups.
“Now think about your grandfather,” Gates told Rudd in the promo clip. “He had served in World War II to fight fascism and he comes home to fascism. Can you imagine?”
Rudd replied, “I mean, it must have been awful.”
JTA reported that, in the episode, Rudd also learned some other details about his grandfather, who changed his last name to Rudd hoping that it would boost his chances of finding a job. The actor says that according to his family’s knowledge, David found work after the name change at a kosher butcher. Rudd also said that he grew up without a strong connection to Judaism and his family moved frequently during his adolescent to places where there were not many Jews. Still, he told Gates, he used to be called “Jewboy” at school.
Rudd also stated that hearing about his Jewish relatives made him “feel closer to them and closer to my religion.”
Watch the video below to see Paul Rudd on “Finding Your Roots”: