Natalie Portman

Portman in 2011, Helga Esteb /

Birth Name: Neta-Lee Hershlag

Place of Birth: Jerusalem, Israel

Date of Birth: June 9, 1981

Ethnicity: Ashkenazi Jewish

Natalie Portman is an Israeli and American actress, director, and producer. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Black Swan (2010). She is also known for her roles in Léon: The Professional, Mars Attacks!, the Star Wars universe, beginning with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace; Anywhere but Here, Where the Heart Is, Cold Mountain, Garden State, Closer, V for Vendetta, My Blueberry Nights, The Other Boleyn Girl, Brothers (2009), No Strings Attached, Your Highness, Thor, and its sequels; Jackie, Annihilation, Vox Lux, and May December. She has directed the short film Eve and the feature A Tale of Love and Darkness, which she also starred in. She is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Best Actress Oscar, and thus could be considered the first millennial to have done so (Eddie Redmayne is the first millennial to have won the Best Actor Academy Award, for The Theory of Everything, 2014). She co-founded production company MountainA. She is an animal rights and environmental activist.

Natalie was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and moved with her family to the U.S. East Coast during her early childhood. Natalie’s father, Avner Hershlag, is Israeli-born; his family were Jews from Poland and Romania. Two of Natalie’s paternal great-grandparents were killed in the Holocaust. Natalie’s mother, Shelley (Stevens), is American, from Ohio; her family were Jewish emigrants from Austria, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine. Natalie is able to speak Hebrew, and studied French, Japanese, Arabic, and German. She attended Solomon Schechter, a Jewish day school.

Natalie is married to French dancer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has two children.

Natalie’s paternal grandfather was Zvi Yehuda Hershlag (the son of Eliezer “Leiser” Hershlag and Leah Penzak). Zvi was an economics professor and author. He was a Polish Jew, who was born in Rzeszów, Poland. Eliezer was born, in 1885, in Dembitz, Poland, the son of Israel Hershlag and Miriam. Leah was born in 1888, in Rzeszow, Poland. Natalie’s great-grandparents Eliezer and Leah were both killed in 1942 in the Holocaust, in Belzec, Poland.

Natalie’s paternal grandmother, Mania/Manya Portman, was a Romanian Jew. Natalie has stated that Mania’s mother spied for the British during World War II.

Natalie’s maternal grandfather was Arthur “Art” Stevens (born Arthur Edelstein; the son of Moses Edelstein and Helen Klar). Arthur was born in New York, to Jewish immigrant parents; Arthur’s paternal grandparents were from Austria and Ukraine, and Arthur’s maternal grandparents were from Russia. Moses Edelstein was the son of Avraham Edelstein (who was born in Kawsko, Stryj, Galicia, the son of Baruch Edelstein [the son of Yosef Edelstein and Neche Ettinger/Ettginger] and Henie Scheninger [the daughter of Abraham Seinwel Scheninger and Eidel]) and Bruche Hendel/Handel/Handler (born in Bolekhiv, Ivano-Frankivs’ka oblast, Ukraine, the daughter of Leib Hendel/Handel and Breine/Brenner Kiwak). Natalie’s great-grandmother Helen Klar was the daughter of Hershel Klar and Sarah.

Natalie’s maternal grandmother was Bernice Hurwitz (the daughter of Michael Hurwitz and Esther Schiff). Bernice was born in Maryland, as were her parents. All of Bernice’s grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe; according to one census, all of her grandparents were born in Lithuania; other censuses list all of her grandparents as having been born in Russia. Michael was the son of Simon Hurwitz and Fannie Alexander. Esther was the daughter of Aaron Harry Schiff and Lizzie/Libby.

Portman in 2006, photo credit: Erik Vanden

Sources: Genealogy of Natalie Portman –

Natalie’s maternal grandfather, Arthur Edelstein, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Natalie’s maternal grandmother, Bernice Hurwitz, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Natalie’s maternal great-grandmother, Esther Schiff (Shiff), on the 1900 U.S. Census –
Esther Schiff (Scheff), on the 1910 U.S. Census –

Natalie talks about her background, 2006 –


Curious about ethnicity

155 Responses

  1. transemacabre says:

    I think two Michael Hurwitzes may be conflated. The Michael who is son of Israel and Bessie appears in 1910 with siblings William, Lewis, Samuel, Nora, and Harry.

    The Michael who was married to Esther Schiff has an obit that lists his siblings as Emmanuel, Abraham, Jennie, Rose and Edith. Not a single corresponding name in the bunch.

    The Baltimore Sun; Publication Date: 4 Mar 1953; Publication Place: Baltimore, Maryland, USA; URL:,0.033694837,0.6133597,0.089346334&xid=3355

  2. transemacabre says:

    Do you have the correct parents for Michael Hurwitz? His marriage record shows his parents as Simon Hurwitz and Fannie Alexander. U.S., Marriages performed by three Rabbis in Boston, Chicago and Massachusetts,1861-1956 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

  3. alexgxo says:

    Fun act, I love how people say no “Asian” has ever the best Actress award while completely glossing over Natalie. She was born in and has citizenship to an Asian country (Israel) and her native language, Hebrew is an Asian language. She is Asian, no ifs or buts. But I guess because she looks European and doesn’t have a surname like “Chan” means that she has absolutely no right to claim being “Asian”.

  4. Aiden says:

    She does look like my mother

  5. lelo4 says:

    She looks Lebanese.

    • andrew says:

      her pigmentation is definitely lighter than the average Lebanese woman, also her features are more European than anything. Lebanon is in Middle East and Lebanese people look Middle Eastern for the most part.

      • Ardor says:

        Levantine Christians, or Maronites, tend to look like Natalie Portman.

        Middle Eastern isn’t a homogeneous race. Kuwaitis and Yemenis for instance do NOT look like Lebanese and Kurds. Just the same way Indonesians don’t look like Japanese people.

        • andrew says:

          It’s true Lebanese Christians are a bit different from the Arabs, but Natalie looks completely European.

          The only Kurd I know is a guy from Eastern Turkey who works at a kebab restaurant next to my house. He almost looks South Asian, and he’s much more exotic than his Istanbul-born Turkish boss (who is also quite swarthy and hairy)

        • typepope says:

          Not at all.
          This site tends to choose unflattering and unusual pictures of most stars.
          Portman would be quite atypical for the Levant, outside of Jews in Israel…
          Her look also is found in the British Isles. and Keira Knightley can easily be Portman’s sister.

        • alexgxo says:

          Did you fail geography class?

          Middle Easterners ARE as “Asian” as the Japanese and Indonesians. All those countries ARE ASIAN COUNTRIES. They are ALL ASIAN PEOPLE.

          But for some reason people decided that “Asian” is a race and that only East Asians with some exceptions including other parts of Asia are “Asian”.

    • typepope says:

      You have no clue what an Arabian looks like.
      Such an ignorant and embarrassing post.

    • Aiden says:

      Yes, she looks Lebanese

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