In honor of the High Holidays, the choicest of the chosen people.
Yesterday, a Nerve writer brought you this list of the seven sexiest mensches she'd like to schtup. But, while often thought of as a male descriptor, the Yiddish term "mensch" can apply to either gender. And so, in honor of Friday's Yom Kippur, here are the upstanding Jewish women I'd bring home to Bubbe.
Natalie Portman is a lady mensch for every man. Along with her busy acting career, which has been thriving since she was a teenager, she's managed to go to Harvard, publish several academic papers, and become an outspoken activist — for everything from Zionism to microfinance to vegan footwear. Whether or not you agree with her causes, you can't deny that she's as smart as she is passionate. And, of course, that she's sexy as hell.
This Mad Mensch started out acting in Jewish Community Centers, long before she took her beauty to television shows like, well, Community. She’s cute enough to have worked as a clown at birthday parties, but also hot enough to brag about the sexual misadventures of her youth on Nerve. (Said story, about trying to help a closeted gay friend lose his virginity, also makes a strong argument for her generous spirit.)
For more than ten years, songstress/actress/Jewess Jenny Lewis released sweet lullabies with her band, Rilo Kiley, and lately has been working on her own solo material. Lewis is also the perfect lady mensch, both seductive and down-to-earth: “I like watching you undress,” she coos on Rabbit Fur Coat’s “Happy,” before adding “And, I think we’re at our best by the flicker of the light of the TV set.”
A literal mix of the suave Quincy Jones and The Mod Squad’s Peggy Lipton, Rashida Jones is obviously extremely cool. She sang TuPac poetry, played David Foster Wallace characters, and sexed up two of NBC’s finest sitcoms. Yet she still finds time to be one of the world’s sexiest philanthropists, giving her time and money to Housing Works, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and the ONE Campaign.
The unrepentantly blond Banks is not only beautiful but also hilarious, as her turns in Wet Hot American Summer — a Jewcentric send-up of ‘80s summer camp movies — and 30 Rock have proven. A former shiksa, she met the menschy Max Handelman on her first day of college and joined the tribe upon marrying him.
Emmanuelle Rossum might be the most glamorous mensch on this list: she sang opera for the Met at the age of seven, she once played Audrey Hepburn, and she can claim Vera Wang as her aunt. She's nearly as accomplished a do-gooder: her efforts have advanced breast cancer awareness, AIDs prevention, environmental conservation, gay rights, and, of course, her own sexiness.
Maggie Gyllenhaal’s striking beauty is matched by her lightning-rod activism. She spoke out against the impending Iraq War at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2002, well before it was fashionable to do so, and she’s a longtime supporter of Witness, a non-profit that uses video to expose human rights violations. Of course, my favorite part of her career is Secretary, a film in which Gyllenhaal exposes something else entirely.