Tiffany Haddish was born on December 3, 1979, in Los Angeles, CA.
On her 40th birthday in December 3, 2019, Haddish celebrated her bat mitzvah in a private ceremony followed by a star-studded party and, that evening, her Netflix special “Black Mitzvah” was released.
Her special begins with Haddish being carried on stage in a chair by four men while she sings “Hava Nagila.” Among other topics, she discussed religion. As Burack related, “her mother was a Jehovah’s Witness (they have the best butterscotch candies), she had a brief stint with Scientology (she quickly left because she hates bunk beds), and Catholicism didn’t quite do it for her (the wafers are not seasoned, the “wine” is just grape juice).”
She explained that Hava Nagila was one of her favorite songs because “what it’s saying, is let’s celebrate, to life, let’s party, my brothers, let’s come together, let’s enjoy life. This is the life we have to live, so let’s celebrate it together. That is so powerful, and I feel like that’s what I was doing; I was celebrating the life I have to live. I was celebrating with the people that were in the audience, and the people that were going to be watching. And, it might not be perfect — life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect. But we should celebrate the opportunities that we have to live. That’s why I wanted to open with that: It’s a mitzvah, a celebration, we’re alive.”
In her teens, Haddish was a dancer and master of ceremonies at, by her estimation, more than 500 bar/bat mitzvah celebrations. She subsequently started to learn about Judaism. “I didn’t know anything about Judaism for a long time,” she told Burack. “As I got into that profession as an energy producer, I started learning more and more about the Torah. I could really relate to it. And when I met my father, it really resonated with me. I was like: This is what I am. I did my 23&Me, and it said the same thing. I [thought], well, I can’t deny this. I wanna claim it.”
She met her father, who passed away in 2017, when she was 27 and learned that he was an Eritrean Jew. Her mother developed a mental illness after surviving a car crash when Haddish was 8 and was institutionalized. Haddish and her siblings were in foster care until they were taken in by their grandmother. She was kicked out of the house when she turned 18 and spent time homeless.
Her bat mitzvah was officiated by Rabbi Susan Silverman, and attended by Silverman’s comedian sister, Sarah, and Billy Crystal (who had an aliyah). Her mother was also there after Haddish moved her into a house with a caregiver.
“I’ve learned so much; I’ve been studying the Torah, I’ve been learning Hebrew,” she said of her preparation for the ceremony. “I’m so excited about the opportunity to open other’s eyes to the Torah and to the Jewish religion.” She added, “Knowing who you are, knowing where you come from, that’s what makes you an adult. And being able to share your story. That’s what I love about Judaism, because it’s all about sharing your stories and questioning and learning from each other.”
Haddish was the first female Black stand-up comic to host Saturday Night Live, winning an Emmy for the episode. She’s also appeared and starred in several movies, including “Girls Trip” (2017) “Keanu” (2016), “Nobody’s Fool” (2018), “Night School” (2018), “Kitchen” (2019) and voiced characters in animated films such as “The Angry Birds Movie 2” (2019), “The Secret Life of Pets 2” (2019) and the “Lego Movie 2” (2019)
Sources: Talya Zax,
Q & A: She’s Sarah Silverman’s Sister — And Just Officiated Tiffany Haddish’s Bat Mitzvah, Forward, (December 4, 2019);
Emily Burack, “Tiffany Haddish Loves Being Jewish. We Talked to Her About It,” Alma, (November 22, 2019).