January 15, 2019

Tom Arnold Is A Mensch

People assume Tom Arnold converted to Judaism, but the fact is, the high profile actor and comedian, was born a Jew.  Though it’s hardly a well-known part of his average Joe persona, Arnold’s mother and her family were Jewish.

In an interview with The Jewish Journal, Arnold said that while he was not raised in a Jewish home, it’s who he is now, and truly was all along.  He even had a Bar Mitzvah in his 30’s.

Arnold was born and raised in Iowa, one of seven kids.  His mother, an alcoholic, abandoned him as a child, then died in her 40’s, after marrying seven times.  Arnold has spoken publically about being molested as a child by a babysitter, and his difficult childhood.

Surprisingly, his experiences haven’t made him bitter.  At this stage of his life, with over 20 years of sobriety, after years of battling addiction, Arnold has embraced his Jewish heritage, and says he finally feels settled.

He credits his happiness to a nice Jewish girl, his wife Ashley.  Arnold had been married three times, and had even tried JDate, but he was tired of failing, so he “swore off dating”.  It wasn’t that he was not built for marriage, but rather, that he was marrying the wrong women.

Historically, he chose to be with women who were “somehow broken”, so he could fix them. Then, at a Passover Seder, Arnold met Ashley Groussman.  She was a gorgeous Jewish girl, who came from a great family, and she was not broken.  What she was able to do, was see him for exactly what he was:  a mensch.

Arnold credits his good friend, director James Cameron, for helping him overcome his fear of loving again.  Cameron told Arnold, “Nobody gets to tell anyone else how many times they get to be happy”.

Arnold embraces his spiritual life with the help of his rabbi, Mark Borovitz. Borovitz is the spiritual leader at Beit T’Shuvah, which is both a residential treatment center, and a full-service congregation inLos Angeles.  Borovitz is also a recovering addict, having fought his own battles to come out the winner. 

Tom says, “Sobriety is connected to faith.  Life is complicated, and there are too many things that just don’t make sense.  It’s easier to deal with anything that comes your way, if you can hand it over to something bigger than yourself.”

Borovitz recently asked Arnold to jump in the ring for a celebrity charity boxing match, and Arnold quickly agreed, eager to help other recovering addicts. Only after he said yes, did he find out that the match would be against the Rabbi himself.  “It’s a lose lose proposition”, said Arnold. “I’ll either be the hero who won the fight, or the schmuck who hit his Rabbi.” 

Arnold is happy.  He is married to a wonderful woman, connected to his faith, and present in his life.  You can’t help but like Tom Arnold, and walk away from meeting him, wishing him well, and really meaning it. He is an actor, a comedian, a husband, a son, a friend, and a mensch.  Will I meet my Tom Arnold?  I’m keeping the faith.

The fight of the century is taking place on Wednesday June 16, at The Beverly Hills Hotel, to benefit Beit T’Shuvah..  You can get tickets, by contacting Barbara Friedman at 310-204-5200 ext. 204 or barbara@beitthshuvahla.org