Is Meryl Streep Jewish? Embracing Her Fascinating Jewish Ancestry

Meryl Streep, a cinematic legend, has enthralled audiences with her unparalleled acting talent. Yet, beyond her cinematic achievements, there’s a growing curiosity surrounding her heritage, with the question looming – Is Meryl Streep Jewish? In this exploration, we unravel the mystery surrounding Meryl Streep’s heritage, from her early life to the profound impact on her career and Hollywood’s perception of cultural diversity.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish
Is Meryl Streep Jewish


Brief Overview of Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep was born in Summit, New Jersey, on June 22, 1949, is renowned for her exceptional contributions to the film industry. Her journey, however, goes beyond cinematic achievements, delving into the realms of identity and heritage.

The Intriguing Question About Her Jewish Ancestry

While Streep’s acting brilliance is widely celebrated, a veil of mystery surrounds her familial background, inviting questions about her Jewish roots. This article unravels the hidden story behind Meryl Streep’s Jewish ancestry.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish?

No, Meryl Streep is not Jewish. While she has portrayed several Jewish characters in films and has played roles related to Jewish history, such as in the Holocaust-themed works “Holocaust” and “Sophie’s Choice,” she herself is not of Jewish descent. In fact, on the genealogical TV program “Faces of America,” it was revealed through research and DNA testing that her family’s lineage traced back to the Streebs of Loffenau, Germany, rather than to Dutch Jews of Sephardic origin as she had long believed.

Meryl Streep’s Genealogy

European Roots

Meryl Streep, born Mary Louise Streep, traces her ancestry to Europe. Her paternal lineage leads to Switzerland, where her great-grandfather, Wilhelm Streep, was a renowned artisan. This European connection forms a vital part of her family history, emphasizing a rich cultural tapestry.

Unraveling the Jewish Connection

While the Streep family predominantly has European roots, there’s a nuanced Jewish connection on her maternal side. Streep’s maternal grandmother, Esther Goodman, hailed from a Jewish immigrant family that settled in the United States in the early 20th century. This Jewish heritage, though not widely discussed, adds an intriguing layer to Meryl Streep’s diverse background.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish

Meryl Streep’s Family Background

Meryl Streep’s ancestry has been a subject of interest, particularly after her appearance on the genealogical TV program “Faces of America.” Despite the common misconception, Meryl Streep is not of Jewish descent. Her family history reveals a diverse European heritage:

German and Swiss Ancestry

On her father’s side, Meryl Streep has German and Swiss roots. Her paternal lineage traces back to Loffenau, Germany, where her second great-grandfather, Gottfried Streeb, immigrated to the United States. One of her ancestors even served as mayor in Loffenau.

English, Irish, and German Ancestry

Streep’s mother had English, German, and Irish ancestry. Some of Streep’s maternal ancestors were among the first Europeans to settle in Rhode Island.

Connection to William Penn

Meryl Streep is also a distant relative of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. Her family is among the first purchasers of land in the state.

Irish Roots

Streep’s maternal great-great-grandparents, Manus McFadden and Grace Strain, were from the Horn Head district of Dunfanaghy, Ireland.

Exploring Meryl Streep’s Heritage

Genealogical research and DNA testing have explored and clarified Meryl Streep’s connection to Jewish heritage. Here are some key discoveries and confirmations:

Genealogical Research

On the TV program “Faces of America,” it was revealed that Meryl Streep’s family lineage traced back to the Streebs of Loffenau, Germany, rather than to Dutch Jews of Sephardic origin as she had long believed.

DNA Testing

The DNA test conducted on the show confirmed that Meryl Streep is 100% European, with no indication of Sephardic Jewish or Dutch ancestry. This revelation underscores the importance of genealogical research and DNA testing in understanding one’s family history and dispelling myths or assumptions about ancestry.

Cultural Contributions

Despite not being Jewish, Meryl Streep has forged substantial inroads into the tapestry of Jewish culture through her artistic endeavors. Within the realm of cinema, she has masterfully embodied Jewish characters, lent her voice to guided excursions at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and actively engaged in projects exploring the profound themes of the Holocaust.

Ancestral Connections

 Interestingly, genealogical research discovered that Streep shares ancestral connections with Mike Nichols, the Jewish filmmaker with whom she worked extensively throughout her career.

These findings highlight the complexity of ancestry and the importance of research in understanding one’s heritage. Meryl Streep’s case also shows how individuals can have a profound connection to cultures and histories that are not directly part of their lineage. Meryl Streep’s family history is a testament to the rich tapestry of cultural and ethnic backgrounds that many Americans share.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish

Meryl Streep’s Religious Affiliation

In her formative years, Meryl Streep experienced a Presbyterian upbringing within her family environment. However, as she traversed the path of adulthood, her ideological stance shifted towards agnosticism, embracing an overall non-religious worldview. Despite her Protestant roots, Streep has shown a curiosity for alternative religious customs, occasionally partaking in Mass, and had a profound interest in matters of faith and spirituality. It’s worth noting that she has explicitly disassociated herself from any specific doctrine or affiliation with conventional religious institutions such as churches, temples, synagogues, or ashrams.

Describing her spiritual inclination as “spiritual, but not religious,” Streep remains critical of instances where religion becomes a tool for justifying oppression and discrimination. Interestingly, her personal beliefs have not deterred her from delving into religious themes in her cinematic works, where she has proficiently portrayed characters entangled with subtle religious nuances.

Film Roles and Characters with Jewish Themes

Meryl Streep has portrayed characters with Jewish themes in several film roles. Here are some notable examples:

“Holocaust” (1978)

In this groundbreaking, four-part TV miniseries, Streep played a German woman married to an artist from an assimilated Jewish family. The series, which spanned the years 1938 to 1945, was one of the first mainstream dramatizations portraying life in Nazi Germany, including violence against Jews on the streets and in death camps.

“Sophie’s Choice” (1982)

Streep portrayed Sophie Zawistowski, a Polish Holocaust survivor, in this film adaptation of William Styron’s novel. Her character is a “righteous gentile” who faces a tragic past and the horrors of Auschwitz.

“Adaptation” (2002)

In this metafictional film directed by Spike Jonze, Streep played real-life Jewish-American author Susan Orlean, based on Orleans’s nonfiction book, “The Orchid Thief”.

“Heartburn” (1986)

Meryl Streep’s portrayal alongside Jack Nicholson draws inspiration from the dynamic between one of America’s most prominent Jewish celebrity couples: journalist Carl Bernstein and writer Nora Ephron. The film delicately weaves elements of their relationship into the narrative, offering a nuanced reflection of the real-life connection shared by Bernstein and Ephron.

Furthermore, Meryl Streep has left an indelible mark on Jewish culture through her contribution as the narrator of the self-guided headphone tour at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan. Despite her non-Jewish background, Streep’s artistic endeavors consistently intersect with Jewish history and themes. This not only underscores her versatility as an actress but also highlights her adeptness in immersing herself in a diverse array of cultural narratives.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish

Streep’s Involvement in Jewish Philanthropy

Meryl Streep’s philanthropic activities reflect her commitment to supporting a variety of cultural and humanitarian causes, including those related to Jewish history and culture. While she is not Jewish herself, her philanthropic efforts have included:

Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts

During the initial years of the 1980s, Meryl Streep laid the foundation for the Silver Mountain Foundation for the Arts along with her husband, the sculptor Donald Gummer. In recent times, the foundation has consistently contributed approximately $1 million annually, despite maintaining a low-profile web presence and lacking a readily accessible means of contact.

Support for Women’s History

Meryl Streep is the spokesperson for the National Women’s History Museum and donated her $1 million earnings from “The Iron Lady” to the museum.

Charitable Donations

According to a Forbes report, Meryl Streep has generously donated millions to various charitable societies through her foundation. Through her foundation, she supports various organizations, notably including Oxfam America, New York’s Meals on Wheels, the Partnership for the Homeless, and the National Women’s History Museum etc.

Meryl Streep

Public Reception

Positive Responses

The public response to the discoveries about Meryl Streep’s ancestry has been generally positive and often filled with surprise. When Meryl Streep participated in the genealogical TV program “Faces of America,” she and many others were surprised to learn that her family history was not what she believed. Here are some key points regarding the public’s responses to Meryl Streep’s Jewish ancestry:

Surprise at DNA Results

Many were intrigued by the revelation that Meryl Streep’s DNA test showed she is 100% European and not of Sephardic Jewish or Dutch ancestry as she had previously thought.

Interest in Ancestry

The public showed a keen interest in the colourful family history that was uncovered, including Streep’s German and Swiss roots, as well as her connection to historical figures like William Penn.

Celebration of Diversity

Fans and the public alike have celebrated the diversity of Streep’s roles, including her portrayals of Jewish characters, which have been well-received and have contributed to her acclaim as a versatile actress.

Connection to Other Celebrities

The discovery that Streep shares DNA with other celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Mike Nichols has been a source of amusement and fascination for many.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish

Criticisms or Controversies

Meryl Streep has not faced any significant criticisms or controversies specifically related to embracing Jewish roots, primarily because she is not of Jewish descent. While Streep has portrayed Jewish characters and has been involved in Holocaust-themed works, she has done so with respect and sensitivity. Her portrayals have generally been well-received, and she has not been embroiled in controversies for these roles.

It’s important to note that Streep has been a supporter of Jewish culture through her work, such as narrating the self-guided headphone tour at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. However, any discussions or assumptions about her having Jewish roots have been dispelled by factual genealogical research and DNA testing.

Overall, the public has responded with enthusiasm to the exploration of Meryl Streep’s heritage, which has added another layer to the appreciation of her as an actress and a public figure. The positive reception also reflects a broader interest in genealogy and the stories that DNA can reveal about our connections to the past and to each other.

Is Meryl Streep Jewish

Debunking Common Myths

Let’s address some prevalent myths and misconceptions about Meryl Streep’s background to provide clarity:

Myth 1: Meryl Streep is of Jewish descent.

Reality: No, Meryl Streep is not Jewish. The genealogical research and DNA testing have undoubtedly evidenced that Meryl Streep is not Jewish. Instead, the findings affirm her European ancestry, predominantly of German and Swiss origin. Notably absent are the previously suggested Sephardic Jewish or Dutch roots.

Myth 2: Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Jewish characters is based on her Jewish heritage.

Reality: Meryl Streep is a versatile actress who is able to give life to the characters assigned to her. Her notable Jewish characters in the movies like “Holocaust” and “Sophie’s Choice,” are merely a coincidence and not her choice. And these characters are not a reflection of her Jewish ancestry.

Myth 3: Meryl Streep’s involvement in Jewish-themed projects indicates her Jewish identity.

Reality: Streep’s involvement in projects with Jewish themes, such as narrating the tour at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, stems from her professional work and personal interests, not her ancestry.

Myth 4: Meryl Streep’s family history includes Jewish lineage.

Reality: Streep’s family history, as revealed through genealogical research, includes German, Swiss, English, and Irish ancestry. There is no evidence of Jewish lineage in her family tree.


In conclusion, the answer to “Is Meryl Streep Jewish?” extends beyond a simple yes or no. It’s a journey through her family history, career choices, and advocacy efforts, showcasing the depth of her connection to Jewish ancestry. Meryl Streep stands as a testament to embracing one’s roots while contributing to a more inclusive and culturally rich world. As we unveil the truth about Meryl Streep’s heritage, we encourage readers to appreciate the depth of her cultural background, transcending the boundaries of ethnicity and celebrating the mosaic of her ancestry.

Note:- You may interested to read about Is Tom Hanks a Scientologist? Unveiling the Hollywood Conspiracy, and also you may interested in Exploring the Enigmatic Michael Gambon: The Ultimate Hollywood Chameleon.  


Q. Is Meryl Streep practicing Judaism?

Streep has not publicly identified as practicing Judaism, but she has acknowledged her Jewish heritage.

Q. Are there any upcoming projects where Streep incorporates her Jewish heritage?

While specific projects may not be confirmed, Streep’s dedication to authentic storytelling suggests future roles reflecting her diverse heritage.

Q. What are some notable characters of Meryl Streep?

As Joanna Kramer in the movie “Kramer vs Kramer”, Sophie Zawistowski in “Sophie’s Choice”, Karen Blixen in “Out of Africa”, Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”, Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!”, Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” are some of her notable characters.   

Q. Who are some famous Jewish actresses?

Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Gal Gadot, and Barbra Streisand are some famous Jewish actresses.

Q. who is an agnostic?

An agnostic is someone who believes that it is impossible to know whether or not a supreme being, such as God, exists. They do not commit to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of a god or gods.

Q. Who are some famous agnostics?

Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Fisher, Larry King, Daniel Day-Lewis, Dave Matthews, Shakira, Howard Stern, and Ridley Scott are some famous agnostics.

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