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This 2010 YouTube video purports to show a picture of actor Daniel Radcliffe wearing tefillin and speaking on Israeli radio about it in Hebrew.

This picture has been picked up on a number of not-so-credible Orthodox Jewish news sites (such as Gruntig or Matzav). A number of more credible Israeli Hebrew-language news websites have stories on it as well (see Kikar Shabbat and Mako for example).

From the Mako site (and through Google translate):

The 21-year-old star decided to put on the tefillin after meeting T. Caleb Friedman at his private school in the British capital. Radcliffe told Friedman that he does not remember whether to place his right or left hand on the mezuzah, and in response, Friedman pulled out the tefillin, as published on the Chabad Online website. Radcliffe was surprised by the offer, but responded positively. After wrapping himself in a tallit, one of the students who witnessed the event was very excited and documented the rare moment on the cell phone camera.

Is it an authentic picture of Daniel Radcliffe? Is it Daniel Radcliffe speaking Hebrew in the recording?

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    Can someone enlighten me on the significance of celebrity fashion? Is that really notable?
    – pipe
    Jan 26 at 19:12
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    @pipe If true, it means he is publicly identifying with a religion. It was notable enough in Israel that A LOT of news websites picked up on it, and when you google דניאל רדקליף, it autosuggests דניאל רדקליף מניח תפילין. Then again, no celebrity news is really notable, yet it is a huge industry.
    – TheAsh
    Jan 26 at 20:45
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    @pipe: Notability, in the context of this site, does not mean important. It means widely believed. We used widely seen as a convenient proxy. This has been widely seen.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 27 at 1:26
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    Given that he has repeatedly publicly professed scepticism of the existence of any divinity, his wearing an orthodox religious symbol would be bizarre. Furthermore, the picture doesn't even particularly resemble him. Jan 27 at 12:08
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    @pipe tefillin are not fashion, they are religious items with actual words of prayer written inside. While a celebrity could in theory wear them in a (rather poor taste) fashion statement, they'd more likely be a declaration of faith. Jan 27 at 13:52

1 Answer 1

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The picture may be Daniel Radcliffe. But the voice probably isn't.

The picture is very blurry, and it's hard to tell a resemblance.

In his own statements, Radcliffe described himself as a "militant atheist" in 2012. In 2019 he said he would be "pleasantly surprised if God was real". Given the video is supposed to be from 2010, going from "believing Orthodox Jew" to "militant atheist" in two years would be quite a change, and you would expect it to have been mentioned when he was asked about his religious views. (He talks about his beliefs growing up quite freely). There are no reliable references to indicate that Radcliffe speaks Hebrew, though he has played the part of an Israeli backpacker in 2018.

The more reliable references to this do not claim that the voice is Radcliffe, and would seem to back up the idea that the recording is of an interview with a Hebrew-speaking Orthodox Jewish friend of Radcliffe's who persuaded him to try on a teffilin and then photographed him in it.

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    According to what I can glean from the Hebrew articles via Google translate, the claim is not that he's an Orthodox Jew but rather that he once put on tefillin that he got from someone else at school, who took a picture.
    – Laurel
    Jan 27 at 15:32
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    If that's the case then this does become a question of "celebrity fashion" and we are left with a big fat "who cares"? Doesn't explain why he is speaking Hebrew. Jan 27 at 15:35
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    @JoeW Orthodox Jews in the Chabad movement will carry around tefillin and offer it to acquaintances or strangers. Generally people will accept it in the way that you accept gifts pressed into your hand.
    – Avery
    Jan 27 at 16:08
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    It also becomes clear that the video is not of Daniel Radcliffe speaking Hebrew, but someone being interviewed on Israeli radio about the incident. Jan 27 at 16:12
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    Radcliffe doesn't appear to be a militant atheist in the sense of constantly wanting to convert people to atheism. I might well try on a tefillin if it was given to me and I didn't want to offend that person, and I'm definitely not Jewish. Jan 27 at 16:14

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