Q&A with Mayim Bialik: Favorite role - Mom

'Big Bang Theory' star discusses with 'The Jerusalem Post' her connection to Israel, her Jewish values, and balancing the role of Mom and TV star.

Mayim Bialik in Israel (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mayim Bialik in Israel
(photo credit: Courtesy)

You might know her from The Big Bang Theory, Beaches and Blossom, but Mayim Bialik’s favorite role is Mom. This month, the television star took her two sons on a ten-day trip to Israel. With deep family ties to Israel, Bialik opted for a family centric trip over a star-studded grand tour. From working on a Kibbutz to finding the best Falafel joints, Bialik shows her children the real Israel. As a proud Jew, she feels a connection to the Jewish homeland that she hopes to pass onto her children.

Bialik discusses her recent trip, her personal connection to Israel and her role as a Jewish mom with The Jerusalem Post.

What inspired your recent trip to Israel?

Well I have been to Israel about a dozen times. I also really wanted to bring my kids here.It is my oldest son, Miles third time here, and my youngest son Fredrick’s second time. 
Why is it so important for you to bring your children here?
For me, being Jewish is linked to the state of Israel. I want to bring up my children knowing that Israel is important. I want my children to grow up knowing that Israel is so important to me that I brought them here even before they had conscious memories of it.
Do you think going to Israel will bring your family closer together in the long run?
Absolutely! It is not just about having a great trip. As they get older, they will know, ‘we go to Israel.’ That is what we do in our family.
What did you do on your trip?
We had a very family heavy trip. My family lives in Kibbutz Gezer. There is a lot to do there. We milked a cow, walked around the Biblical Gardens and just spent time with the family. I painted a bridge in the Kibbutz, that I last painted 15 years ago.
What did you do outside the Kibbutz?
Outside of the Kibbutz, we went to the Yad La-Shiryon, the tank museum, mini-Israel and took a day trip to Tel Aviv. We also went to the Science Gardens by the Weizmann Institute, where my aunt works. I got done all my souvenir shopping on our half day in Jerusalem. Then, we spent Shabbat with my cousins near the West Bank.
I understand you have Israeli roots and are even related to Israeli poet Hayim Nahman Bialik. How have you stayed connected to your Israeli roots as a Diaspora Jew?
Every other trip, we go to the Bialik House in Tel Aviv. I am very proud of my last name and my connection to him. My family made Aliyah after the Yom Kippur War. When I’m with my Israeli family, they all have strong New York accents and use a lot of Yiddush. Of course, all my cousins’ children were born in Israel. It’s amazing because in one generation, my family transitioned from heavily accented New York Jews to pure, beautiful Israelis. 
What is your personal connection with Israel?
I have a typical 20th Century relationship with Israel. Israel came into my consciousness at a young age. All of a sudden, my family members moved to this faraway place. Israel was very mysterious to me as a child. I knew it from prayer, but that’s it. At 16 years old, I came here for the first time. I fell in love with Israel. I fell in love with everything about it.
With your profession, do you find it hard to be a practicing Jew?
Religiously, I have some limitations because of the industry I work in. However, my connection with Israel has always remained strong. I believe that Israel is important across Jewish denominations. Whether you are reform or orthodox, Israel is the Jewish homeland.
From Blossom to the Big Bang Theory, how did you transition from child actress to adult television star?
I took 12 years off between Blossom and the Big Bang Theory. I went to get my PhD in neuroscience, and I didn’t plan to come back into the industry and get a job on a television show. I started to audition after school, and I happened to land the Big Bang Theory. It wasn’t orchestrated or planned, but I’m really grateful it happened.
Do you consider yourself a geek in real life?
Yes, I’m a scientist through and through. I have a huge weakness for comic books and science fiction too.
If you weren’t an actress, what would you be?
Exactly who I am right now. A mom.
What are your top three tourist tips for Israel?
1. Sit on the beach in Tel Aviv at a cafe along the tayelet. Turn off your cell phone and people watch and just hang out. It's very Israeli.
2. Wander the Old City shops and shuks. Haggle if you can, or just buy whatever at whatever price. It's fun, it's a cultural experience and it's good for the economy!
3. Eat a proper falafel! Falafel is the best in Israel, period.