More Jewish representation on Netflix with ‘13: The Musical’

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A Jewish high schooler from Westchester, New York, is the star of Netflix’s movie adaptation of “13: The Musical,” which premiered on the platform this month.

Eli Golden (front row, right) with other members of the cast of “13: The Musical.” (IMDb)

Eli Golden plays Evan Goldman, a 13-year-old who is prepping for his upcoming bar mitzvah and living his best life on the Upper West Side. When his parents get divorced, he is forced to move with his mother back into her childhood home — located in the small town of Walkerton, Indiana. Shenanigans ensue.


For instance, when Evan invites his new classmates to his bar mitzvah, one uninformed student interjects “It’s this Jewish thing where they make you talk backwards and everyone gets circumcised” before Evan has time to explain. Oy vey. The movie reflects what it can be like for a kid to be the involuntary ambassador of his people — a stranger in a strange land — with humor and heart.

This is not Golden’s first acting gig: he had small parts in Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” and “The Wizard of Lies,” the HBO film starring Robert de Niro as the late Jewish Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff. But this is his first starring role, one that is especially meaningful because the film depicts Jewish life in a realistic way. (Okay, maybe breaking into song during the bar mitzvah speech isn’t so realistic, but this is a musical).

“Representation in this movie for Jewish people is amazing,” Golden told New York Jewish Week. “When I was younger, I’d always watch Christmas movies. I never watched a Hanukkah movie. I feel so lucky that I’m able to be the representation that when I was younger I didn’t have.”

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