By Mohan Xu
Disney will feature its first Jewish Disney princess on Disney Junior’s series “Elena of Avalor” during the Hanukkah-themed episode in December.
“Elena of Avalor” is about Elena, a teenage princess who has saved her kingdom, Avalor, from an evil sorceress and now must rule the kingdom. The third season of “Elena of Avalor” began on Oct. 7.
The first Jewish Disney princess, who will be named Princess Rebeca, is a visiting princess from a Latino-Jewish kingdom.
“I think it is interesting because there’s never been a religious princess,” said Zoe Tesser, a junior criminology and criminal justice major. “It is definitely cool to be inclusive and will give Jewish girls something to look up to.”
Meanwhile, Tesser said, “I am kind of scared because there is obviously a lot of anti-Semitism in the world, and I feel people will be like ‘why does there need to be a Jewish princess?’”
The princess will be voiced by Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Sigler is a Jewish actress who played the role of Meadow Soprano in the HBO series “The Sopranos.”
After Walt Disney Television Animation News announced the news on Twitter, Sigler tweeted, “I am so excited to voice Disney’s first Jewish princess.”
I am so excited to voice Disney’s first Jewish princess 💁🏽♀️❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/TISMnknDyQ
— Jamie-Lynn Sigler (@JamieLSigler) September 17, 2019
Since Snow White became the first Disney princess in 1937, Disney has crowned 11 official princesses, including Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana, Merida and Rapunzel.
“I never felt a lack of representation because there was not a Jewish Disney princess,” said Ariella Cohn, a sophomore psychology and theater major. “But the fact is that I am happy to see there is one [now].”
Cohn continued, “I think it is interesting for people to see this [Jewish] culture that’s probably pretty different from their own lives.”
When asked whether the choice promotes Jewish culture or not, Cohn and Tesser both agreed that it depends on what Disney does with the character and the episode’s plot.
While this visiting princess will be the first official one, comedian Sarah Silverman believes that her character was the first Jewish princess. Silverman voiced the character of Vanellope von Schweetz in the movies Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet in 2012 and 2018, respectively.
On March 8, 2018, when Disney tweeted “Make way, make way for #InternationalWomensDay” and showed the four princesses Moana, Mulan, Tiana and Jasmine as examples of international women, Silverman responded to the tweet with, “Um you’re missing a lil [sic] Jewish girl in a green hoodie & candy stuck 2 her hair.”
Um you’re missing a lil Jewish girl in a green hoodie & candy stuck2 her hair https://t.co/Scp6efOBud
— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) March 9, 2018