“I Wore a Jewish Star in Every Episode”


“Jeopardy!” executive producer Mike Richards and actress Mayim Bialik are going to be taking over hosting duties for the game show following Alex Trebek’s death last fall. While Richards will be hosting the syndicated version of the show, Bialik is hosting the primetime and spinoff series, including “Jeopardy! National College Championship.”

Bialik, star of “The Big Bang Theory,” “Call Me Kat” and “Blossom,” and writer/director of the upcoming feature “As Sick As They Made Us,” with Dustin Hoffman and Candice Bergen, recalled her family’s history when the announcement was made.

“My grandparents fled the pogroms of Eastern Europe with barely anything to their name and started a new life here with no certainty, no support and no idea where their lives would lead,” she told the Journal. “My parents were born during WWII and scraped by and fought for every cause they came in contact with as they navigated a new culture and language. They raised me to believe in my Jewish faith and culture. They taught me to have a personal relationship with a complicated Gd who holds me close when I’m scared or uncertain or alone. I carry these struggles, this history and my family’s bravery and moxie as I embark on this new chapter of my career.”

“My parents were born during WWII and scraped by and fought for every cause they came in contact with as they navigated a new culture and language.”

During the search for Trebek’s replacement, Bialik stepped in as a guest host along with 15 others including Richards, former champion Ken Jennings, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, LeVar Burton from “Reading Rainbow,” Fox Sports’ Joe Buck and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Bialik, who is a lifelong “Jeopardy!” fan as well as a neuroscientist, was a fan favorite. This season, “Jeopardy!” was the most-watched show in syndication, with 8.7 million viewers on average.

The actress and host of the podcast “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown” is outspoken about her passion for Judaism, explaining to the media why she wears modest clothing on the red carpet, showing her support for Israel on social media and appearing on the Partners in Torah website, which connects Jews who want to learn Torah together.

“Here’s a fun secret: I wore a Jewish star in every episode of ‘Jeopardy!’ that I guest hosted,” Bialik said. “Sometimes a pin, sometimes a ring and most often, one of two ‘hidden’ Mogen Dovids. One of my outfits featured earrings from The City of David in Jerusalem, which were unearthed in a dig in recent years. I find ways to maintain my sense of ‘Jewishness’ wherever I go. And it’s especially important to me to do that on such a public stage.”

She continued, “I look forward to finding more ways to honor my family and my people and the legacy of Alex Trebek as I begin my High Holiday season with planning filming for ‘Jeopardy!’”

Kylie Ora Lobell is a writer for the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, The Forward, Tablet Magazine, Aish, and Chabad.org and the author of the first children’s book for the children of Jewish converts, “Jewish Just Like You.”