Monday, September 9, 2019

Happy Birthday Adam

Adam Richard Sandler was born September 9, 1966 in New York City to Judith (Levine) and Stanley Sandler, who descended from Russian Jewish immigrants on both sides. When Adam was 6, the family moved to Manchester, NH. As a teen, Sandler was involved with the Jewish youth group, BBYO. Sandler has stated that his views on Israel and Zionism derive from his very pro-Israel parents. As the only Jewish student in his public school, Adam has recalled how he was the subject of anti-Semitic derision.

In 1989, Adam starred in his first film role, “Going Overboard.” While pursuing his acting career, Adam was also succeeding as a stand-up comic. Comedian Dennis Miller saw Sandler’s act in Los Angeles, and recommended him for a job at NBC’s “Saturday Night Live (SNL).” In 1990, Adam was hired as a writer for the show, and the following year, was added as a member of the cast. He left “SNL” in 1995, to focus on his movie career, starring in slapstick films, most often portraying an immature unmotivated adult who ends up growing up, and, in the end, acting with valor. Adam then began writing and producing films. Sandler starred and helped write “Billy Madison” in 1995, “Happy Gilmore” in 1996, and “The Waterboy” in 1998.

Adam personally and professionally wears his Jewish pride on his sleeve. In 2003, Adam married Jacqueline Titone, who had converted to Judaism. A video surfaced of Sandler shaking a lulav at a Chabad Sukkot street festival in Brentwood, CA, in 2017, and in an interview in 2019, he spoke of his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. 

Sandler’s works portrays a real pride in his Jewishness. While a cast-member on SNL in 1994, Adam wrote the now-famous “Chanukah Song” which describes famous Jews who celebrated Chanukah, not the much more popular Christmas. It became an instant hit for Jews and non-Jews alike, and Sandler has updated it numerous times with new names and lyrics. In 2002 Sandler produced a Chanukah-themed animated film “Eight Crazy Nights.” In 2008, Adam then wrote and produced “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan,” chronicling the life of a former Israeli Mossad agent who moved to New York to pursue his dream of becoming a hairdresser. In 2014, Sandler starred in “The Cobbler,” a drama about a Lower East Side Jewish cobbler named Max Simkin who magically was able to wear people’s shoes and experience their lives. Liel Leibovitz of the online Tablet Magazine described Sandler as a “normal dude from New Hampshire who was proud of his Jewish heritage the same way an Irish-American might celebrate his own on St. Patrick’s Day – that is, loudly, and with a never ending supply of good cheer and high spirits.” In Adam’s own words: “I’m not very crazy religious. But like I said, I grew up being proud of being a Jew and that’s what I am.”

Yom Huledet Sameyach, Adam!

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