I usually like to avoid discussing religion on this blog, because I think the topic is completely irrelevant to my usual content. Readers come here for college tips and ridiculous lists, not for a play-by-play of my thoughts on life, death and the possibility of a higher power.
However, today I’d like to share (from a relatively secular perspective) some of the reactions I get and misconceptions I hear when I tell people that I am Jewish. Some of these have made me laugh over the years, but I thought it would be fun to share these with my Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike! For the non-Jewish readers, I hope this gives you a little insight into what your Jewish friends are thinking when they hear certain questions and comments. For my Jewish readers, I’d love to hear your own experiences in the comments section below! 🙂
OMG, You’re Jewish? Well-Meaning But Common Responses
“But you don’t look Jewish!”
Oh, so I don’t look like the very small representation of the Jewish population that you’ve seen on TV? Most of the time, when people say this, they are referring to very specific features that have been exemplified through years of offensive caricatures. Not all Jews look alike – just Google Jewish celebrities for some examples! I have Jewish friends of many nationalities and backgrounds – friends who are black, South American, Central American, European and Middle-Eastern – and (surprise, surprise!) they don’t look alike.
“You LOOK Jewish!”
See above. To this day, I’m still not sure if I look Jewish or not, and I don’t really care!
“Do you know Danny Goldstein? He’s Jewish, too!”
Seriously? The fact that I’m Jewish doesn’t mean that I know every other Jewish person out there! There might not be many of us, but we don’t all know each other. It’s crazy you would even… Oh wait, Danny Goldstein? We went to Hebrew School together…
“But how can you NOT celebrate Christmas?”
Contrary to popular belief, Christmas is not the only holiday that brings family and friends together in merriment. In fact, we have eight nights of Hanukkah! Interestingly enough, many Jews live full and happy lives without ever once celebrating Christmas. (Luckily for me, I get to celebrate both – so I have twice the fun!)
“Are you related to Moses?”
Why yes, Moses is my grandfather. (I think this question stems more from my admittedly awesome last name than anything else, but I digress. Growing up, a lot of my non-Jewish friends were convinced that Moses was the focal point of Judaism and that we worshipped him in the same way that Christians worship Jesus.)
“I find so many good bargains. I’d make such a good Jew!”
No, you’re just financially savvy. If Judaism taught us extreme-couponing and how to pinch every penny, then I wouldn’t constantly overspend at the grocery store and troll the Kate Spade site.
Other Stray Comments
- We do not all sound like Woody Allen. Yes, he is funny and his movies are charming, but the whole “neurotic Jew” stereotype definitely seems to stem from him and his characters.
- People can be Jewish and German. I’ve seen friends act shocked to meet someone of Jewish and German descent, but it does happen, just as there are Ethiopian Jews and Brazilian Jews and Jews from practically every other country in the world.
- One time, I said “Oy Vey!” and a friend responded, “Wow! I had no idea you could speak French!”
- We really do have some of the best food. If you haven’t had kugel yet, you really need to get on that.
Friends, what are some of the well-meaning but silly reactions or comments you’ve received over the years?