Jake Gyllenhaal

Gyllenhaal in 2011, DFree / Shutterstock.com

Birth Name: Jacob Benjamin Gyllenhaal

Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: December 19, 1980

*father – Swedish, English, Swiss-German, German, Scottish, distant Welsh and French
*mother – Ashkenazi Jewish

Jake Gyllenhaal is an American actor. He is the son of Stephen Gyllenhaal, a director and poet, and Naomi Foner Gyllenhaal, a screenwriter and director. His sister is actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Jake’s father is of one quarter Swedish ancestry, with Jake’s father’s other roots being English, Swiss-German, German, Scottish, and distant Welsh and French. The surname Gyllenhaal originates from Sweden.

Jake’s mother is Jewish (of Polish Jewish and Latvian Jewish descent). Jake was raised mostly in the Jewish religion. He has stated that he considers himself Jewish.

Jake’s patrilineal ancestry can be traced back to Gunne Olofsson Haal, who was born, c. 1634, in Härene, Sweden. Gunne’s son, cavalry Lieutenant Nils Gunnarsson Haal, was ennobled, changing his name to Gyllenhaal.

Jake’s paternal grandfather was Hugh Anders Gyllenhaal (the son of Leonard Efriam/Efraim Gyllenhaal and Virginia Philola/Philo Pendleton). Hugh was born in Pennsylvania. Leonard was the son of Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal, who was born in Klotens bruk, Ramsberg, Västmanland, Sweden, and of Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson, who was of Swedish descent. One of Leonard’s five times great-grandfathers, George Fleetwood, was English. Jake’s great-grandmother Virginia was the daughter of Charles Rittenhouse Pendleton and Sarah/Sara Patterson “Sallie” Peeples/Peoples.

Jake’s paternal grandmother was Virginia Lowry/Lowrie Childs (the daughter of Geoffery Stafford Childs and Olivia Hughes Waelchi). Virginia was born in New York. Geoffrey was the son of Walter Cameron Childs and Edith Worcester Smith. Olivia was born in Berlin (now Kitchener), Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada. Olivia’s father, The Rev. Frederick Edwin “Fred” Waelchi, was the son of Swiss parents, of Swiss-German descent. Olivia’s mother, Elizabeth Alivia/Elwina/Alena Hawke/Hughes, was from Ontario, Canada, and had English, German, and distant Welsh, ancestry. Most of the rest of Jake’s father’s ancestry is English, with distant French.

Jake’s maternal grandfather was Samuel Achs (the son of Morris L. Achs and Etty/Ety/Etta Schneir). Samuel was born in New York, to Polish Jewish parents.

Jake’s maternal grandmother was Ruth Silbowitz (the daughter of Schmuel Benjamin Silbowitz and Yetta Schklar/Sklar). Ruth was born in New York, to Latvian Jewish parents. Benjamin was born in Dvinsk, the son of Chaim Nosson/Nathan Zelbowitz and Fruma Gore. Yetta was the daughter of Jackob Schklar and Seroh Domge. It is possible that Jake is related to actor Logan Lerman through Jake’s Silbowitz line, which may lead to common ancestors with Logan’s Zelbovitz line.

Sources: Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal – http://www.geni.com

Genealogies of Jake Gyllenhaal (focusing on his father’s side) – http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com

Marriage record of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.familysearch.org

Death records of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandparents, Anders Leonard Gyllenhaal and Selina/Selma Amanda Nelson – https://www.findagrave.com

Jake’s paternal grandmother, Virginia Lowry/Lowrie Childs, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Jake’s paternal great-grandmother, Olivia Hughes Waelchi, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Genealogy of Jake’s paternal great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Alivia/Elwina/Alena (Hawke/Hughes) Waelchi – https://www.findagrave.com

JWeekly column mentioning Jake’s Jewish heritage – http://www.jweekly.com


Curious about ethnicity

40 Responses

  1. Fatmonkey says:

    How exactly does one differentiate between a Jewish person with typically German name and surname and a German person with typically German name and surname? For example, Einstein’s great-grandfather’s name was Ruppert Einstein. If no one ever knew that Ruppert was related to Albert, nor that he was Jewish, wouldn’t he absolutely seem German to all genealogists? Not all German/ Polish Jews are actually named ‘Leb’, ‘Yitschak’, ‘Amrom’, “Moscheh”, etc.

    Nothing exactly to do with Jake’s family tree, but just for the future researches (and potential misunderstandings therein).

    • follers says:

      In Eastern Europe “of old”, it was generally easy to differentiate between Jews and non-Jews based on names, because almost all Jews had “very Jewish” names, other than the rare upper-class/assimilated Jews (for example, the names Samuel Achs, Morris Achs, Ruth Silbowitz, Benjamin Silbowitz, and Yetta Sklar, especially in combination, could more or less not possibly be those of non-Jewish Polish/Latvian/Russian people).

      As for German Jews and non-Jewish Germans, I agree, it’s harder. The name Ruppert Einstein wouldn’t be definitive. So there are two ways:
      1. Birth/marriage records, if taking place at church.
      2. Ruppert Einstein’s parents’ names. We simply go back up the family tree and see if the names are more definitive. For example, Ruppert’s father was Naphtali Hirsch Einstein and another ancestor was Moyses Einstein. Usually we’re dealing with more than one generation.

      Did you have a particular genealogy in mind?

      • Fatmonkey says:

        For example, I was wondering whether Bud Brutsman (the TV producer and husband of the model Adrienne Janic) was of Jewish or German ancestry?

        • follers says:

          Bud Brutsman is the son of Faye and James W. Brutsman, of Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’d rule him out of being Jewish pretty much based on that information.

          More specifically, I believe his paternal grandfather was Everett Melvin Brutsman, of Iowa. His parents were Frank Deshler Brutsman and Lois Simpson. Frank’s parents were Peter Brutsman and Marcia Ella Harriott. Peter’s parents were John Frederick Brutsman and Catherine Yetter. John’s parents were Phillip Jacob Brotzman and Christina Barbara Lattig. Phillip’s parents were Jacob Heinrich Brotzman and Maria Margaretha Ficen. Jacob’s parents were John Frederick Brotzman and Maria Barbara Weber.

          Given everything we know about them, from their names to their history (moving from Germany to Pennsylvania in the 1700s), it’s pretty obvious that the name originally comes from a non-Jewish German, Lutheran, background. This site, for example, even mentions that John Brotzman and Maria Weber’s marriage took place in a Reform (Lutheran) church.

    • lelo4 says:

      Easy, Ashkenazi Jews look more like Italians and not German/Eastern Euro.

  2. ShawntheGod says:

    He’s a shitty actor.

  3. Boriqua says:

    That is what I want my future husband to look like. ;~)


    Why did Megan Fox say he was a white guy? He’s Jewish!

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