Here’s an article I just had published in a Jewish, college publication. I’m very pleased because it is not only circulated on my college campus, but other colleges across the country as well. It’s about Jewish stereotypes, I hope you enjoy it as much as my mom did! Wow, that made me sound lame, didn’t it?
It has never been easy being Jewish. First we wandered through the desert for 40 years, then came ten years of Hebrew school, and now that both have come to an end, I’m still schvitzing from the stress. Now, you may be thinking, “Why do you feel such stress? Did you lose your menorah? Was the store out of Kedem grape juice?” The truth is, as much as Jewish stereotypes entertain me, they also stress me out. Though I attend a predominantly Jewish university, I still find myself to be one among my group of gentile friends, which places me in the crossfire for common Jew jokes.
Not a day passes by when I don’t hear a friend express interest in a new object-such as a Kindle or a Nintendo Wii- and then tell me to ask my father if he can purchase one for him this holiday season. That’s the first and most prominent Jewish stereotype: all Jews have a lot of money. Now, this may be true for some Jewish families, but it is equally as true for some non- Jewish families. Just because it may seem that every Jewish family you know is wealthy does not mean every Jewish family is rolling in dough. Not to mention, there are plenty of Jewish families who face tough economic times, and these comments may make them feel inferior.
The idea of Jewish people always having more money than non-Jews plays a large part in the next common stereotype: Jews are cheap. I don’t even see why any of this needs to be explained, confirmed or denied, because if the reason why you believe your neighbors, the Weinsteins, just bought a brand new Mercedes for their teenage daughter Rifka is because they have a lot of money, how does that make them frugal? But if the minimum of $30,000 was just dropped on a brand new Benz, don’t you think a frugal Jew would have opted for a Kia, or a used Mercedes at best? It just doesn’t make sense when you claim Jews are stingy, yet think they have a lot of money because of all the “cool” stuff they possess. If anything, Jews are just good investors and know how to spend when the time is right, which only ties back into the first stereotype I presented.
That brings me to my final stereotype. A cliché so common that I don’t even need to state it. All I need to say is this-my mother and father are neither doctors nor lawyers. No, I wasn’t born Jewish and then adopted by non-Jewish parents who let me keep and practice my birth religion. My parents just didn’t choose those career paths. No surprise, though, because, despite popular belief, this happens. And it happens quite often. Most of my family is in construction or catering. Once again, just because your doctor’s lab coat reads “Goldstein” or “Greenberg” doesn’t mean every doctor in the world kisses a mezuzah before entering a building.
So now I ask you, Jews and gentiles alike, to think about what you say before you say it. Your reliable Jewish friend that you always hit up for cash may have been hit hard financially because of the current state of the economy-or just because of the Madoff scandal-and a “rich Jew” comment may hit home with him. Jews are just as entitled and likely to choose a career path they feel comfortable with over one they are expected to take, just like anybody in the good world. For me, I want to be a television or film writer.
So please stop throwing pennies at my feet and waiting to see how long it takes for me to pick them up. I only pick up quarters, and I’m sure non-Moses-lovers do too.
Thanks to Schmooze Magazine! I hope to write more for their publication in the future.