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Maia Morgenstern (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈmaja ˈmorɡənʃtern]; born 1 May 1962) is a Romanian film and stage actress, described by Florin Mitu of AMOS News as "a symbol of Romanian theater and film". In the English-speaking world, she is probably best known for the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In Romania, she has been nationally known since her 1992 role as Nela in Balanţa, a film known in the United States as The Oak, set during the waning days of Communist Romania. Born in Bucharest, in a Jewish family, she graduated from the Film and Theatre Academy of Bucharest in 1985. She then played at Teatrul Tineretului (Youth Theater) in Piatra Neamţ until 1988, and at the Teatrul Evreiesc de Stat (State Jewish Theatre) in Bucharest 1988-1990. From 1990–1998 she was a member of the company of the National Theatre in Bucharest, and since 1998 of Teatrul Bulandra, also in Bucharest; in addition, she continues to act at the Jewish State Theatre and other Bucharest theaters and elsewhere in Romania.