Steven Spielberg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up between Haddon Township, New Jersey and Scottsdale, Arizona.
He is Jewish.
Spielberg is not afraid of admitting that, as a young boy, he didn't care much about his Jewish heritage. He said:
I wasn't a religious kid, although I was Bar Mitzvahed in a real Orthodox synagogue.
Even so, that didn't stop him from taking his revenge on anti-Semites in his neighborhood growing up. His mother tells this story:
I was raised in an Orthodox home, but I chose to rear my children in non-Jewish neighborhoods. That was my one really big mistake. The kids next door used to stand outside yelling, 'The Spielbergs are dirty Jews.' So one night Steven snuck out of the house and peanut-buttered all their windows.
It seems that as he ages, Spielberg becomes more proud of his roots. This could be one's orientation towards tradition as they get older, or it could be the fact that he is now identified as one of the highest-profile members of the high-profile Hollywood Jewish community. In late-2011, Spielberg announced that he will direct an epic film about the life of Jewish prophet Moses.
Heavy liberal involvement
Spielberg seems to be quite socially liberal as well. He quit his high-ranking position in the Boy Scouts of America because they decided to no longer allow openly gay scout leaders to participate in the program and he donated $100,000 to a program designed to defeat the gay marriage ban in California, called Proposition 8, saying:
By writing discrimination into our state constitution, Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate the right of each and every citizen in our state to marry regardless of sexual orientation. Such discrimination has NO place in California's constitution, or any other.
Like many other stars, Spielberg was horrified and outspoken about the attempts at genocide in Darfur, opting-out of an "artistic adviser" position for the 2008 Olympics in China, saying:
I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue business as usual…Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these on-going crimes, but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more.
Clearly, Spielberg has decided to use his considerable wealth and influence to further causes of tolerance and human rights. Whether or not you agree with his views, you have to respect that.