Jew CardsJew Cards
Jew CardsJew Cards
Jew CardsJew Cards

It seems as if Jews in North America have always had a presence in popular culture larger than would be justified by their numbers. From Irving Berlin penning White Christmas, to the comedic stylings of the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and Krusty the Clown, to the music of Bob Dylan, the Ramones, Jane’s Addiction, Mickey Avalon, Peaches, Princess Superstar, Feist Regina Spektor, Amy Winehouse etc. it’s as if Jews are ubiquitous, as if they really do control the media… But we all know that we really don’t. Besides, for the most part, depictions of Jews in popular culture have never really delved into the guts of what it really means to be Jewish – as if we don’t want to make a shanda fur di goyim – why air our dirty laundry in public? Better they should think we’re all great lawyers, doctors and accountants with a touch of the neurotic to take the edge off our obvious superiority.

But that’s all changing. The news from Israel shows that the tanned, buff, scrappy Zionist Ãœbermenschen everyone used to love, are in fact fallible – although still undeniably cute. And in the US our existential tzurris are the stuff of New York Times Sunday Magazine articles (never mind the facts). The change has been so rapid and startling, fueled in part perhaps by the diminishing influence of traditional Jewish institutions, that it’s become… banal? The stuff of greeting card Web sites where concerns about continuity and intermarriage are mined for their comedic content alongside other ironic reflections on modern urban life. Yes – Jewish angst has arrived and it is part of the over arching zeitgeist!

Are we really that boring though? Oy!

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

36 Comments

  • I would be careful using words such as “Ãœbermenschen”, that terminolgy cost you a lot back in the 40’s.
    Regards
    PR

  • Oh Pierre. Everyone knows that it was Nietszsche’s sister that put in all that racist stuff in his work. And besides, I was using the term ironically. That’s my excuse for everything now! Mr. ck! Why didn’t you pay the phone bill? Why? Because I was being ironic! It’s awesome! Try it today….

  • yup as someone who’s not jewish yet who married a jewish man, I have to say I find the card with the “I want to trick a Jewish man into marrying me” quite offensive. I’m sorry Jewish men, but while I’m happy with the one I have, I don’t think you’re so all that that non jewish girls would want to trick you into marrying them. And plus are men so dumb its possible to trick them into marrying someone? eh?

  • Oh Katherine, Katherine. It’s a joke among Jews that a lot of shiksas go after Jewish men because they like rich, successful, non-macho men. This only applies to American Jewish men because Israeli Jewish men are macho and most are not mega rich.
    To paraphrase Black people, “It’s a Jew thing, you wouldn’t understand.”
    Too bad your Jewish husband didn’t marry a nice Jewish girl and didn’t have nice Jewish children. You will have Gentile children which the world already has enough of.
    Nothing personal but the Jewish community is on the brink of extinction. Too bad that your “man” is a traitor to his people. But you wouldn’t understand.

  • oh anti-intermarriage, anti intermarriage. Can you be any more patronising, or unpleasant? My husband will have jewish kids. They won’t be good enough for you – as they will be reform rather than orthodox – but they won’t have any other religious identity apart from that. And it will probably be more thanks to my efforts than to my husbands. A lot of the time he couldn’t care less, because it seems like a lot of effort to go through all so our kids can be jewish, like people like you. And you’re not a terribly warm welcoming person are you?

    It gets boring being called a shiksa or a goy (not nice terms, in case you didn’t know), having my husband called a traitor, being told my children won’t be jewish when they will be, getting ready to make a huge personal sacrifice, of all my cultural upbringing, and being told its not good enough. It would be nice to encounter somebody warm and welcoming who could show me the positive side of Judaism and why I should do what I’m going to do. Too bad I haven’t encountered those sorts of attitudes yet. And yes, I live in Israel, so its not for want of trying.

    Keep on being patronising and unpleasant and tell me how it works out for you.

  • So, the goofy card is “offensive”, but saying Jewish men are not “so all that” is not. How um…what was that word? Oh, right: offensive!

    What will undesirable Jewish men the world over do now, knowing that Katherine and her friends deem them unworthy of pursuit and deception????

  • And just so you know, there HAVE been cases of women trying to trick Jewish men into marrying them. Krusty, it is well known, was dragged into many a paternity suit by women who hoped to take advantage of his wealth and celebrity and force him to marry them.
    Tell THEM he’s “not all that”!

  • oh please, I didn’t insult Jewish men, I just said I didn’t see why you were all so splendid a non Jewish girl (that’s the polite way of saying shiksa, just so you know) would go out of her way to trick one into marrying her. Really now.

    do you have such a bad opinion of non jewish women that you think they’re just out to pursue men and deceive them. you might need a little therapy there bud.

    anyway I wrote in quite a non offensive manner, but I can see I’m not getting any good replies to what I wrote. You should realise once intermarriage has happened, you still have a chance that there might be Jewish children resulting from that marriage. But if you act in such a non welcoming manner, then I’m pretty sure there won’t be. Oh well, your loss.

    And while I’m at it, where did my comment go?

  • oh please, I didn’t insult Jewish men, I just said I didn’t see why you were all so splendid a non Jewish girl (that’s the polite way of saying shiksa, just so you know) would go out of her way to trick one into marrying her. Really now.

    do you have such a bad opinion of non jewish women that you think they’re just out to pursue men and deceive them. you might need a little therapy there bud.

    anyway I wrote in quite a non offensive manner, but I can see I’m not getting any good replies to what I wrote. You should realise once intermarriage has happened, you still have a chance that there might be Jewish children resulting from that marriage. But if you act in such a non welcoming manner, then I’m pretty sure there won’t be. Oh well, your loss.

  • Ladies, gentlemen, be nice. There’s some truth to every side of the debate.
    1) Yes, there are non-Jewish women running around Brooklyn and Manhattan that dress as if they were straight from BP. Oddly enough, many of those women are Chinese.
    2) Twenty percent of America’s Jewish population lives below the poverty line. Just because your mame feeds you latkes on Chanuka, doesn’t make you a good catch.
    3) Psychology suggests that if you adamantly reject a certain group of the respective other gender, you might subconsciously feel immensely drawn to it. (As Michael Wex points out in ‘Born to Kvetch’, a ‘shiksa’ becomes a ‘goyte’ once she’s not sexually appealing anymore.)
    4) There are plenty of loveable nice Jewish and non-Jewish men and women all over the world; not all Israeli guys are macho, and not all American Jewish-guys are non-macho. The ways of true love are miraculous and not for outsiders to judge, particularly if those have never experienced true love themselves.
    5) Women in these days and age are more than breeding facilties. As Katherine correctly stated, a child born to a non-Jewish mother can still become Jewish. Though if the mother and the children (and maybe also the father) feel resented by the Jewish community, why should they bother? To be considered second-class Jews and to be frowned upon?
    6) Odds are that if you were really able to work your way back in your family trees (only the Catholic church kept reliable birth and death records in medieval Europe, take my word for it), you’d find lots of cases of intermarriage in there.

    As for the ecards, I find them to be rather amusing and enjoy the cum-grano-salis sense of humour. One of the core traits of Jewish humour is to make mockery of its own culture. Alas, as Salcia Landmann, an outstanding Judaist from Austria once stated, to understand Jewish humour you need vast religious knowledge that today only the Orthodox have got – and those haven’t got a sense of humour.
    Get my point? Zai a mensh, nisht farbissen.

  • For once I agree with Balaam’s Donkey. I am no fan of intermarriage but that “anti-intermarriage” dude is an idiot.

    Katherine’s husband is still a Jew and Katherine, while not Jewish, has tied her fate to that of the Jewish people. The idea of a Judaism of fate is one that was discussed by no less a luminary than Rabbi Soloveitchik. So Katherine and her man are married and have or will have kids. I’d rather make Katherine feel comfortable amongst us. It’s the wiser and more compassionate course of action, dontcha think?

    And Sarah (comment #19) – you win the award for best comment of the month! I had to get a friggin dictionary out for some of it, but seriously, kudos!

  • Just to kick up the “Israeli’s are hot, American Jews are not” debate a notch, I’d like to set up the following clip from the second season of Showtime’s “Weeds” for our reading audience. Uncle Andy is called up for the draft (which he signed up for years ago while drunk) and is going to be sent to Iraq unless he is an enrolled student in a religious program. The admissions director for the Rabbinical Program he applies to is an former Israeli soldier whose last lover was her Commander in the Mossad and killed by the fucking terrorists in an explosion in a pizza place. Andy keeps hitting on her and she keeps telling him they have to be “just friends” because she is not physically attracted to him.
    Watch what happens when she gets drunk at a school party!
    Yes, our cliches are so mainstream that they comprise many plot lines in a Golden Globe winning cable series. See the rest of weeds for more Jewish stereotypes.
    Warning: sexually explicit…enjoy!

  • Number 9, I don’t know what America you’re talking about. I’m an American Jewish male. I’m poor and unemployed with bulging biceps and facial hair. All us Jews are like that here. We’re friggin Jewish Norse G-ds. Even the Orthos. Especially the Lubavitchers. They’re definitely not rich but those guys carry ten crates of gefilte fish on each shoulder. And they take no prisoners. Your claim of this “little joke among Jews” – I wouldn’t come here and tell it because you’ll have whole synagogues of working-class guys tossing you into the river.

    And the “shiksas” go crazy for us. Just so you know. Before my cousin Leon and his rich Methodist girlfriend kick your ass.

    Chutzpah – Weeds kicks ass.

  • Katherine, I apologize for the tone of my first post (the Krusty thing was just for fun!). I was reacting to the way it was presented; I didn’t think the best way to argue that non Jewish women don’t really want to “trick” Jewish men was by saying that the men are not worthy of the effort because they’re not so great.

  • RM…it’s very Jewlicious…created by the Jewlicious Jenji Kohan. Yes, we really do control the media but we are never boring!

  • On the flip side, the joke 10 years ago about Bill Clinton was who in his right mind would have a Jewish mistress and a Gentile lawyer!

  • ck, you should really put a section “Best comment of this month” and put Sarah’s (comment #19) for August… Kol Hakavod Sarah!!

  • Thanks, gweitz, but I’d still suggest not to provoke commentators to try to compete with others comment-wise as this will inevitably make for piles of pseudo-witty comments rather than comments of valuable content.

  • But I LOVE the pseudo-witty comments! Laughing at them makes me pseudo-wet my pseudo-pants!!

  • I’m smarter than you think! You meant “q.e.d., i.e, f u,” didn’t you???

    Have a nice evening, folks! 🙂

  • nnnyaa …. i got this anst becuz felt terribli inferior because I was no Jew ( – should I capitalize that?) I went synagogue for weeks — and even though it was like I wore a placard reading: “OKAY SO I’M FAKING IT”, I was in a bizarre state of denial. My yarmulka (?) was an old faded knit beanie worn inside out. I figured though they were largely not verbally responsive, they “really loved me because their ghastly historical oppression was mine!” I did begIn to get a clue when I stepped right into it — I made the atrocious error of referring to their structure as a “church” — and a not obvious militant in the congregation (can I say that?) hit me with a very loud, acidic broadside: “THIS IS NOT A CHURCH!” That incident coupled with the fact that Rabbi always found an excuse to not sit down and talk conversion with me penetrated my sham. I sent him a letter weeks later of deep apology for my schtick, and explained that I was a bipolar who’d gone too far off his Li — Lithium. Oy – but I loved the music. Not one member otherwise questioned or challenged me. It was a democratic institution; tolerance-to-a-fault the byword. So I got the lesson I actually craved, and walked away a tad wiser. Robert the Pretender

  • Wow… and then you people wonder why we Germans had no problem exterminating over 6 million of you like the vermin you truly are.

    You think wealth and fame would make beautiful white girls lust for you when you people look like inbred rats? ahahahahaha

    You people have eternally lived off the suffering of other people, yet claim to be superior? Is this a fucking joke? hahahaha

    You Jews would still be living like the goat fucking animals you beasts truly are were it not for the cultures of Europa.

    Alle Juden sind Untermenschen und sollen vernichtet werden

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