Or, as they’re known in Chinese characters, “Jews.”

“There are many Chinese characters for ‘you-tai,’ or Jew, but the combination that is currently being used refers to an animal of the monkey species and has the connotation of parsimoniousness,” Chien Hsi-chieh, the director of the Peacetime Foundation of Taiwan, said recently.

[…]Members of Taiwan’s Jewish community, some of whom are fluent in Chinese but not in the ancient Mandarin writing system, are following Chien’s campaign in the media. None would comment publicly for this article, since “the complex and varied way of writing Chinese characters is beyond most Westerners’ comprehension,” one longtime Jewish expatriate in Taipei explained.

Jews are not the only people that written Chinese discriminates against, Chien added. He also recommended that the Chinese world community replace the current term for Islam, “hui,” with a better combination of characters, “yi-si-lan,” because the current term has a negative connotation of paganism.

In Chinese, there are three words for “river,” and eleven words for “rice“. Maybe they could add another word for Jew that doesn’t have the xenophobia element? Without any knowledge of how Chinese characters operate, I have a few suggestions:

* Use a variant on whatever character means “lion,” in tribute to the tribe of Judah.
* Use a character depicting a man crossing a river, to capture the meaning of the word “ivri”
* Use whatever symbol they use to depict Israel

And while we’re changing things, let’s give those former Ishmaelites a new character too. How about someone kneeling, or some other image that captures the meaning of Islam as “submission”?

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.


  • Use a circumsized phallus. Everyone knows the Jews started that. (Sorry for the one track mind)

  • Sigh. I can always rely on you, Chutzpah, to make a perfectly innocent post turn all sexual and stuff. Who says etymology is a sterile and unarousing field?

    And don’t make me spell out the numerous problems with using such a symbol…I beg of you, please.

  • Isn’t there something a little weird about a middle-aged woman with the apparent maturity level of a horny sixteen year old? Just a little weird?

  • Glad to be reliable, it’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it!
    I’m sure we have more than eleven words for phallus in Yiddish. The Alaskan Eskimos have like 23 ways to say “snow”. A culture’s priorities are reflected in their etymology.

  • Yes Michael, it’s weird, but I’m only depraved on account of I’m deprived. And, you should know that it is quite natural for a woman to first be approaching her sexual peak after 40, which is why we are such a perfect match for younger men.

  • esther: you slave to pop culture… quoting much music commercials… the shame of it.

    Could we make the chinese symbol for Jews the same one as is used for Won Ton Soup? I know that that is the favorite food amongst my friends every Sunday night.

  • LOL much music referencing… oy… small world 😛

    horny 16 year olds? well… i’m 17 so i don’t count. teehee.

  • IRB’s comment had to be rescued from the spam filter. Why is that? Does the spam filter fear that Esther will allow a compliment to get to her head? Fuck that! Esther totally rules. We are truly not worthy. I mean that literally. I hate posting immediately after Esther because my writing inevitably comes off uh… not as good. Esther does serious good and does funny good too. Esther rocks and is beyond Jewlicious! She’s like post-Jewlicious! Uh wait, is it appropriate for a fellow member of the blog team to be this complimentary? Ah who cares. To paraphrase the line from the classic movie Boogie Nights, yes, she is that good.

  • Ever since we were kids, that spam filter has always been jealous of me. Now, it’s become my nemesis…Joy and IRB, thanks for the compliments. And CK, I appreciate the effusiveness, but you may also want to check your meds, just to be on the safe side.

    I’ll try not to let it all get to my head. But just for the record, I prefer to think of myself as “meta-Jewlicious.”

  • Thanx for the rescue ck, yer my heeero. So, thats like, basically what I meant when I said “beesknees” was that not clear..

  • The original Chinese term for “Jew” was _dao jin jiao ren_ (can’t remember the tones), which means “person of the religion that excises the sinew”. In other words, to the Chinese the most salient feature of Judaism was the law of _gid hanasheh_ against eating the sciatic nerve.

  • Steg, thank you. That was actually one of the more insightful and educational comments we’ve ever received!

  • ck, the comment filter caught it because it catches every comment by people who haven’t posted on Jewlicious before. Which is kinda weird.