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November 21, 2018 1:31 pm

Actor Jeremy Piven Talks About Rapping Part of His Bar Mitzvah Torah Portion, New Stand-Up Comedy Career

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Jeremy Piven. Photo: Flickr.

Actor and former “Entourage” star Jeremy Piven revealed in a recent interview that he rapped part of his Torah reading at his bar mitzvah.

The Emmy Award-winning actor, 53, spoke to the San Diego Jewish Journal about his new career in stand-up comedy and said he discusses Judaism in his acts. He said, “I talk about my bar mitzvah. I talk about my struggles with my bar mitzvah. How patient [Rabbi] Arnie [Rachlis] was with me and I do a bit about rapping — I actually rapped my haftorah portion because I was not a very good bar mitzvah boy.”

Piven also spoke about growing up in an observant Jewish home and attending the University Synagogue in Orange County, a Reconstructionist temple led by Rabbi Rachlis, who bar mitzvahed the actor. Piven said he continues to practice under Rabbi Rachlis and they remain good friends.

The actor opened up about the role that Judaism and theater played in his life at a young age, saying, “I come from an acting family, and I think that Judaism was very close to all of us as well as the theater. And I think obviously Judaism was our religion and theater is our religion as well so I was very lucky in that way if that makes any sense … My father would have a joke — he said we prayed ‘to whom it may concern.’”

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In an interview earlier this month with the Jewish Journal, Piven said his family was not as religious now as they were when his father was alive. He said his father was “incredibly religious…but he passed away and we’re not as diligent as he was in terms of visiting temple. We’re just there for the High Holy Days but at the same time I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who are more observant, and also I get to witness many different ways to observe the holidays.”

Piven is scheduled to do two stand-up comedy shows in Israel in January.

During his first time in Israel, in 2016, he had a second bar mitzvah ceremony in Jerusalem. The trip was sponsored by the Omri Casspi Foundation — an organization that organizes visits to Israel for NBA players and celebrities. Following the religious ceremony, Piven was gifted with a personalized prayer shawl and presented with an ambucycle dedicated in his name.

Piven told the Jewish Journal that, during his upcoming acts in Israel, he will talk about his 2016 experience and traveling alongside the NBA players, many of whom had never been to a bar mitzvah or inside a synagogue.

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