While the rest of the world is getting ready for summer, some of us are still stuck in winter. For years, we’ve been saying “Winter is coming” and now…it’s finally here! The final season of Game of Thrones (GoT) premiered last month. And as we eagerly watch and try to ignore that sinking feeling of life after GoT, here are some Jewish connections to help keep you focused on the fate of Westeros:
George R.R. Martin, author of the source material for GoT, learned in a recent episode of Finding your Roots that he is of Jewish descent. All of his life he thought he was Italian; however, the DNA results revealed his grandmother had an extramarital affair. A plot twist comparable to those found in his books! Martin admitted to not feeling as Irish or Italian growing up, rather “I just thought of myself as a human being, and that’s how I still identify myself.”
The writers and producers of the show, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, are also Jewish. In fact, their shared heritage and lack of any Irish roots brought them together while attending Trinity College Dublin. GoT will not be the end of their partnership; the two are set to work on a new series of Star Wars films.
The story itself is based on The Accursed Kings (Les Rois Maudits) by French-Jewish author Maurice Druon. A historical novel that fictionalizes the 100-year war between England and France. Martin even stated this novel is the “original game of thrones.”
A few names in the series share a Jewish connection through the Hebrew language. Jaqen, who serves the Many-Faced God, means “established by G-d.” Uncle Benjen (a variant of Benjamin) means “son of the south” or “son of the right hand.” Beric Dondarrion, wielder of the flamed-sword is also known as “The Lightning Lord.” His first name is a variant of barak which means “lightning”. This last one may be a stretch, but the Lord of Light, R’hllor, ends with -or which is Hebrew for “light.”
For those who portray the characters, a few of the cast members are of Jewish descent while others are embarking on Jewish projects. Daario Naharis (the leader of the Second Sons and Daenerys’ lover) was first portrayed by Ed Skrein in season 3 before being replaced by Michiel Huisman. Huisman, who is not Jewish, is starring in The Red Sea Diving Resort, the true story of the rescue of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants from Sudan to Israel. The film is set for release on Netflix later this year. Kinvara (High Priestess of the Lord of Light and supporter of Daenerys in season 6) is played by Israeli actor Ania Bukstein. The last two are both of Jewish descent: Thoros of Myr (the drunken Red Priest who resurrects Beric Dondarrion) is played by Paul Kaye; and a character we’ll surely see alongside Cersei Lannister this final season, Qyburn (Maester and Hand of the Queen) is played by Anton Lesser. And speaking of the Queen, Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, will star in an Israeli female assassins film called Gunpowder Milkshake, set for release next year.
The promise of a GoT spinoff is sure to fill the void that comes after the finale airs on May 19th. Life after GoT will not be as dark and full of terrors as we once thought!
DVORAH LEWIS IS A CONTRIBUTING WRITER TO JLIFE MAGAZINE.