Mayim Bialik on modesty and lack of faith in Hollywood

This interview may be of interest to M* readers.

Actress Mayim Bialik.

Actress Mayim Bialik.

One aspect of Judaism the mom-of-two values is modesty.

“Being a modest dresser, that for me is a certain amount of my religious faith — privacy and chastity. Just because I have a body, doesn’t mean it means to be on display.”

Bialiak dislikes being labeled as “prude” just because she “doesn’t dress the way everyone else dresses.”

“It’s important, especially for children and men and my sons to hear I’m not ashamed of my body, I just don’t feel the need to display it with two tiny pieces of fabric when I want to go swimming.”

The actress, best known for the character “Amy” on “Big Bang Theory,” also said:

the entertainment industry isn’t friendly to people of faith either.

“I think in general it’s never going to be trendy to be observant or religious in Hollywood circles,” she said candidly. “There are people I know of faith and we tend to congregate together. I study Jewish texts weekly. That’s something really positive to me when you’re a person of faith, it stays with you all the time.”

The California-native explained that while she doesn’t like “the bureaucracy of organized religion,” she does “believe in a power greater than” herself.

“I have an unwavering faith in a power greater than myself and I don’t think that will change any more than my belief in gravity will change,” she stated. “In terms of observance, my social media shuts down for [the Sabbath] and sometimes we go to synagogue, sometimes we stay at home and we do [Sabbath dinners]…I believe in [Jewish law] but I also believe in the permeability and changeability in the structure of Jewish law and I think Judaism has always adjusted to the times that it lived in and it’s adjusting in the time we are in now.”

Bialiak said her belief in God is often questioned by people who point to her degree in neuroscience and ask how she can believe in both God and science.

“Being a scientist and a person of faith, people want to know how that is. It leads to a lot of interesting conversations that I welcome but a lot of people want to open up a conversation just to tell you, you’re wrong.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

15 thoughts on “Mayim Bialik on modesty and lack of faith in Hollywood

  1. I thought she struck a good balance on modesty. I get really sick of the “I won’t wear (fill in the blank)” type blog posts from people.

  2. Herman Wouk’s last novel The Lawgiver was an interesting look at faith, Hollywood, and Jews. I liked it a lot and felt it had something significant to say.

  3. She notes that she doesn’t ‘like the bureaucracy of organized religion’ but she sometimes attends synagogue. I’m amused that people take it for granted that government and business involves some form of bureaucracy, or in other words those whose business it is to organize things, but they are quick to reject the idea that religion might require clerks and administrators. I have never seen a movie or television show trailer that didn’t include a long list of what we might call bureaucrats. Certainly active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are very familiar with the number of clerks and administrators that are required to keep a Mormon ward on course even though some of them may be called secretaries, assistants to the president or counselors. Just because our positions are unpaid does not mean they are unnecessary, particularly where the key administrator himself is a volunteer and has a job and family to maintain.

  4. Pat, I think what she means by that is that she doesn’t want clergy or an organization to interfere with her direct relationship with God. So, in a way that is a Mormon way of looking at things. There are religions that emphasize a horizontal relationship with God, i.e. you-to the pastor or priest-who intercedes with God on your behalf. We should know that Mormonism provides a vertical relationship directly with God, with revelation provided directly to the member.

    I will admit that she may have meant something else by this comment, but this is how I read it anyway.

  5. That is a valid interpretation of what she said, however it seems common nowadays to hear people say they are spiritual but they avoid religious institutions. She has connection to a synagogue but she mentions staying at home and having a Sabbath meal as an apparently equal activity.
    Many of us are inclined to observe the Sabbath from the comfort of a couch without the need to get ‘dressed up’ and venture out. After all, I have the scriptures close at hand and I can pray and think kind thoughts about the neighbors I don’t have to interact with in real time.
    But no, the Church limits the partaking of the Sacrament to the confines of a chapel unless you have a real excuse to loiter on your couch.
    With the current emphasis on Sabbath Day observance this restriction gains new meaning.

  6. I do not think this is often a conscious part of the attitude, but what I read into “spiritual but not religious” is a dislike for seeking God in association with the other sinners one will inevitably encounter in a church.

    My own feeling is that that the presence of other sinners in my ward is as necessary as the grit on a sheet of sandpaper.

  7. I love my congregation, a love that I enjoy because we all come together frequently to worship and serve and learn.

    I remember the amazing sense of community when I was present for the death of my mother-in-law, a woman who had lived in the same Provo ward for many decades, a ward with a highly stable membership. It was a truly humbling experience to be there at the end as families stopped by to visit during their evening walks to chat about the many wonderful years of community they had shared.

    Tonight I met in a book group with members of my congregation (though we are not “formally” identified as a Church group and do have at least one frequent attendee who isn’t a member of the congregation). My autistic daughter came, and was welcomed (the book was “As You Wish” and talks about the experience Cary Elwes had when The Princess Bride was made). It was wonderful to be with these wonderful people who have their quirks yet who welcomed my socially awkward daughter and encourage her to come in the future.

  8. My husband served at finance clerk in our ward for 2 years. I compared it to running a small business. He had to constantly balance books, write checks, take incoming payments, out going payments etc. He and our bishop frequently met to discuss the administration of the ward.

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