If Don Draper Were a Jew…

 Dont be fooled by his looks.

Don't be fooled by his looks.

There has been speculation since the dawn of the rise in popularity of the hit show Mad Men, that the show’s resident heart throb and protagonist, Don Draper is in fact Jewish. Since not much is known about Draper’s past, the rumors continue to ebb and flow. Season 1 had Don paired in a rather serious dalliance with a Jewish heiress to a successful retail chain. While the jokes and cultural bites ensued, it didn’t seem to get us any closer in revealing Draper’s potentially semitic routes.

So in this vein, I’d like to scribe a ditty on the theme of “What If…” In this case, relating to Don Draper being a Jew (Read the title of this post, people!). Hey, if Beyonce can make everyone in the universe question  if [she] was a boy and sprout herself a new identity practically overnight, Don Draper can sit at the Shabbos table, say the motzi, and break bread over Manischewitz. Don’t see the correlation? Reinvention! That, and I think these bullet points would be far more effective if sung to the theme of “If I Were a Boy.”

If Don Draper were a Jew…

  • He’d still be married to his shiksa wife, Betty. Let’s face it. She’s every Jewish boy’s wet dream. And yes, it makes us Jewish girls a bit verklempt to say that.
  • He’d feel a bit guiltier about his infidelities and go kvetch to his rabbi and unload his guilt more often. In fact, he’d be so wrought with guilt, there’s a potential he might not be able to get it up. In which case, they’d have had to rewrite all of the show and come up with at least 20 minutes of new material, per episode.
  • He’d go to such great lengths to hide his Jewishness that he might be guilty of making the worst anti-semitic slurs at his ad agency, Sterling Cooper, just to overcompensate. Well, that, and he wouldn’t be having the extra-marital affairs to offset all his angst, just fueling the fire.
  • He’d fantasize about Joan more often – She’s the comely, fiery broad in the office with all the right curves and just the right amount of cynicism to make her razor-sharp retorts that much more stinging. Of course, some of Don’s fantasies would involve her telling him what to do and a strap-on.
  • He’d drink far less alcohol and spend less time inebriated but he might still act drunk just to keep up appearances with his work buddies. He’d keep an extra fridge in his office under his desk for the extra hummus that he illegally imports. This is the 60s after all. Hummus is his secret vice…and something he could never readily explain away to his pedantic peers. This also helps to explain why he often smells of garlic and chickpeas.

Lastly, can someone from FunnyorDie.com contact me about my idea to do a video short on this theme? I have some pretty bitchin’ ideas about this. And it’s gotta be better than the Alicia Silverstone – Alanis Morissette short, however cute they both may be.

Mad Men airs on AMC at 10 PM ET on Sundays. For a teaser of the Mad Men Season 3 premiere, go here.


  1. With Love

    8/23/2009 at 10:16 am

    Dear Beth,

    I appreciate your attempts at humor. All laughs entail risk. However, Humus is not funny. All of the Jewish Satire that uses Humus, Matzo Balls, Manischewitz, or Gefilte fish, is not very funny. It is just lazy.

    Who eats Gefilte fish during the week? Does anyone? and Manischewitz? I don’t know anyone that drinks it. A fridge for Humus? and if we are being true to the era, Humus wasn’t even available in the 60’s.

    With Love

  2. beth

    8/23/2009 at 12:46 pm

    You’ll have to share with me what Jewish humor you find funny. I’m always willing to learn 😉

    Remember taking the criticism route is easy. Offering up viable alternatives, another thing.

    Look forward to hearing your witty ideas.

  3. marny

    8/23/2009 at 1:59 pm

    Of course there was hummus in the US in the 60s. Just not the commercially produced crap that they sell in supermarkets these days. Anyone with a serious hummus addiction would get it home made anyhow so your point is wrong. You know who eats gefilte fish during the week? Old Jewish people do. I volunteered at a Jewish old folks home and I saw it with my own two eyes. They love that shit. That and herring. As for Manishewitz, any Jewish kid who wants to get drunk with his buddies – I’m talking 13-14 year olds here – can always find some Manishewitz stashed away somewhere. Also Manishewitz is the drink of choice of many in the Caribbean or of Caribbean descent. Just so you know. I only wish beth blogged more often and I thoroughly enjoyed this post, so much so that I just had to leave a comment. But i do appreciate your good intentions and civil tone.

    Jewish humor is often corn ball and derivative. The same jokes and corny themes are often repeated. It’s comforting, like our food. Two Jews three synagogues, a priest an imam and a rabbi, jesus and moses walk into a bar one day, oy my wife, sheckel?? i thought you said shmekel?? Love it all. It’s not oh so very sophisticated but it is all mine.

  4. Mighty DSR

    9/1/2009 at 9:14 am

    My friend is a writer for the show — Don is Jewish — something they arent going to reveal until season 9 when has to help a Rabbi from Crown Heights who claims to be the Messiah with an ad campaign for a hog farm he owns in Alabama … stay tuned(out) …

  5. Len

    9/5/2009 at 6:45 am

    I am watching the first season and think Don is may be Jewish many reasons. After witnessing the ravages of WWII, he fled from the identity that caused the death sentence for his co-religionists-an intellectual and postModern response. He has pictures of the liberation of concentration camps in his home that he views before calling a meeting with Rachel Menkin to brainstorm the Israel tourism account, but it may be an excuse see her-he doesn’t need her input. He tears up at a coffee house during a beat song about yearnings and the promised land-a tune with a middle eastern melody. He read Exodus instead of having sex with his very willing wife. His brother is named Adam (but no revelation as to why), had an uncle Max. Don needed a new identity to survive emotionally.

  6. CT Moore

    9/5/2009 at 7:00 am

    You remember this from season 1?

    Roger Sterling: Have we hired any Jews?
    Don Draper: Not on my watch!

    I’m just saying…

  7. Lisa Brower

    9/17/2009 at 10:51 am

    Love this post, it’s fricking hilarious. I totally agree, Don is a secret jew.

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