Disney’s first gay Jewish teenaged character is here — and he’s played by a Jewish actor, no less. The Disney series Andi Mack showcased two milestones recently recently: In October, the character Cyrus Goodman (played by 16-year-old Joshua Rush) revealed that he’s gay, and in the latest episode, Cyrus celebrated his bar mitzvah.
The episode stays true to tradition: Cyrus recites his Torah portion while wearing a tallit (prayer shawl), which is actually the same one Rush wore to his own bar mitzvah. He told the Jewish Journal how the show can teach kids about Jewish culture:
There are a lot of kids who have never been to a bar mitzvah and to them it’s shrouded in mystery. Now they can watch it and understand our culture a little bit.
Despite having his own bar mitzvah, Rush worked with the rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City, where the show is filmed, to refresh his knowledge. Having to shoot this scene reconnected him to his Jewish roots, saying, “It’s become a much more important part of my life since then.”
Rush, who is from Houston and was raised in a Reform Jewish family, says Judaism “can be part of your identity if you want it to be.” He’s also going to Israel for the fifth time soon.
So, how does he feel about playing a gay Jewish character? He couldn’t be happier:
He’s got so much depth to him, and he’s not afraid to be who he is. Andi Mack has such a great message about loving yourself, loving your family and being loyal to your friends. I want to see Cyrus keep asking hard questions and figuring out who he is over the rest of this season and in season three.
If you haven’t already, this is definitely a show worth checking out — with or without your kids.