Hari Nef in 'And Just Like That'
Source: HBO Max

'And Just Like That' Introduces a Trans Rabbi Who Could Be Based on a Real Person

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Feb. 3 2022, Published 3:16 p.m. ET

Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for the Season 1 finale of And Just Like That.

It’s true that And Just Like That isn’t what we expected based on its groundbreaking forefather, Sex and the City. Regardless, we can’t help but appreciate its efforts to diversify the cast, and it is fitting that Charlotte would be faced with how to raise a child, Rock, who uses they/them pronouns, in a Jewish home. But Charlotte does her best and finds a trans rabbi to lead Rock’s “they-mitzvah.”

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Let’s be frank for a moment — in Judaism, this would just be called a b’nai mitzvah, but we’ll let it slide since And Just Like That cast Hari Nef as trans rabbi Jen. Hari Nef is a revolutionary trans actor who’s had memorable roles in several series. And not only that, but Hari is Jewish, so she’s the perfect person to portray Rabbi Jen.

Cathy Ang, Kristin Davis, Alexa Swinton, Evan Handler in 'And Just Like That' — "They-Mitzvah"
Source: HBO Max
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Jen, the trans rabbi in ‘And Just Like That,’ plays a key role in the Season 1 finale.

The final episode of And Just Like That does what the rest of the series struggled with. It shows how far the characters have come and how much they’ve grown — whether that growth is forward or sideways or backward. Charlotte, although she tries to be open and loving to her kid, still insists on them participating in the Jewish faith. As a compromise, she finds Rabbi Jen, a trans rabbi, to lead Rock’s “they-mitzvah.”

Regardless, Rock speaks up, saying that they don’t want to be “labeled as anything: not as a girl, or boy, nonbinary, a Jew … or even a New Yorker.” But Charlotte has put in the effort to throw this season-ending party and insists, “Someone is going out there and getting they-mitzvahed today.” Of course, Charlotte ends up filling in for Rock (and naturally crushing it), finally getting her recognition as a Jewish adult, thanks to Rabbi Jen.

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Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon in 'And Just Like That'
Source: HBO Max

Meanwhile, Miranda decides to move to Los Angeles with Che. While it may seem out of character for Miranda to do something so spontaneously, it perfectly mirrors the Sex and the City finale, when Carrie decides to move to Paris for a man. Back then, Miranda criticized her, “What are you going to do over there without your job? Eat croissants?” Now, almost two decades later, Carrie flips it back onto Miranda, “What are you going to do in L.A. all day? Sit in an audience and laugh?”

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Rabbi Jen overhears Miranda and Carrie arguing it out, and convinces them that friendship is the most important thing and that they must protect their bond. Ah, there’s no one wiser than your friendly neighborhood rabbi.

Hari Nef portrays the trans rabbi Jen in ‘And Just Like That.’

While many critics have agreed that And Just Like That is heavy-handed, we have to still appreciate their efforts to include a more diverse cast and writer’s room. Now, on top of wonderful series additions such as Sara Ramirez, Nicole Ari Parker, and Sarita Choudhury, And Just Like That introduces trans actor Hari Nef to the cast.

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Born into a Jewish family in 1992, Hari became the first openly transgender woman signed to IMG Models, as well as the first openly transgender woman to appear on the cover of a British magazine.

Hari Nef
Source: Getty Images
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She’s also a writer for various outlets and an actor on top of being a model. Many might remember her as Gittel in Transparent — she gave us a glimpse into what Nazi Germany was like for a trans Jewish woman while expanding the history of the Pfefferman family. Other notable roles of hers include Blythe in You and Bex in Assassination Nation.

Although it's not yet very common, there is a trans rabbi who has made a name for herself in the Jewish community.

Abby Chava Stein was born in 1991, so she’s very close in age to And Just Like That’s Rabbi Jen. Similar to Hari, who has paved the way for many trans women in acting and modeling, Abby has done the same in Judaism.

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She is the first openly trans woman to have been ordained by an Orthodox Judaism institution — she was ordained in 2011 before she was openly trans, however. Abby is also the first openly trans woman raised in the Hasidic community.

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Although she left Orthodox Judaism in 2016 after coming out as trans, she’s since rejoined her faith and restarted her rabbinical practice. Now, Rabbi Abby Stein is a major advocate for LGBTQ presence in all religions.

She even co-founded Sacred Space, which is a “multi-faith project which celebrates women and non-binary people of all faith traditions.” Abby herself even had a role in Unorthodox as a Hasidic woman.

If Rabbi Jen is anything like Rabbi Abby, we can’t help but admire her.

Season 1 of And Just Like That is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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