Family Goy. Get it?

familygoy

Season 8 Episode 2 of Family Guy, titled Family Goy had a very notable plot line wherein Lois, the mother on the show, discovers that her own mother is a holocaust survivor and that her and her children are in fact Jewish. Lois confronts her parents and her mother Barbara Pewterschmidt (née Hebrewberg née Hebrewbergmoneygrubber) explains:

Lois: Mom you’re Jewish?
Barbara Pewterschmidt: I’m sorry I never told you dear. When we were married your father made me conceal the fact so that we could get in to country clubs.
Carter Pewterschmidt: It was the right thing to do.
Barbara Pewterschmidt: It was the right thing to do dear

Indeed. In a similar vein, Culture Shuk revealed the story of Denise Brown, the founder of Dallas’ City Ballet who had kept her Judaism hidden for nearly 70 years. A French Jew, she had worked in the Resistance, survived the Nazi occupation and then married an American enlisted man who, according to the Dallas Morning News, insisted she not let his racist/anti-Semitic parents know she was Jewish.

Denise honored her husband’s request. His father and mother went to their graves never knowing that Gene’s wife is Jewish. “My father-in-law had some very weird ideas,” Denise says, managing a wry smile. “He told me that all the Jewish people have crooked toes…Denise kept her Judaism hidden from the larger community as well. She and Gene spent years raising their children at University Park United Methodist Church. A CPA who spent 35 years working as finance director for the city of University Park, Gene died in 1991. “I remember as a teen Dad going on about the ‘damn Jews,’ ” Evelyn says. “I said, ‘If you hate them so much, why did you marry one?’ And he said, ‘I was going to make damn sure she never acted like one.’ “”

Hobbled by the fear she felt under Nazi occupation, Denise never publicly acknowledged her Judaism until a grand daughter Madison’s Bat Mitzvah where Denise presented her father’s tallis, last worn during WWII, to Madison. Denise is still kind of scared:

“I am not ashamed of the fear I felt. I knew I didn’t want my children to live through another Germany, which could happen again.” She pauses, and says with a sigh, “To be honest, I still haven’t stopped worrying … that it could happen again.”

Never you mind Denise! In the diaspora, let alone in Dallas, jack booted thugs are always just around the corner. Hiding in fear of imminent anti-Semitism, hiding your Jewish identity, to quote Carter and Barbara Pewterschmidt, is “the right thing to do.”

It was the right thing to do dear.

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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.

14 Comments

  • when i was 5 yo my parents told me-‘look we need to tell you smth. you are jewish but you dont have to share this information with others’ and just now when i moved to israel i stopped to be shy of my nationality…

  • wait…what?! Da..I mean Ck, love you, loved this article, until I got to the last paragraph…
    I realize you needed a nice “tie it all together” kicker but “it was the right thing to do?!

    No one can judge another person’s life choices
    but aggrandizing the perpetration of “in the closet Judaism” is not something I would expect from Jewlicious

  • OM wait I just realized…maybe you were trying to be sarcastic about the thugs around every corner?…but that’s still true man. We be Jews, thugs love us.

  • More importantly Leia, I was being sarcastic about it being the right thing to do. Of course it’s easy for me to judge. Denise’s father was murdered by the Nazis. Denise risked life and limb working with the resistance. Given the opportunity to leave France for a fresh start in America, denying the heritage that was the cause of so much pain and suffering must have seemed like an acceptable price to pay. It’s one many Russian Jews paid as well – how many Russians have I met who told me they only found out they were Jewish relatively late in life. This is one of the more pernicious effects of anti-Semitism, one that gnaws away at our collective identity We see it in effect to this day – all those malicious and malevolent individuals and entities unjustly demonizing Israel and making Jews ashamed of their Judaism. So ashamed that they begin to adopt the ideas of their detractors as their own. Don’t get me wrong, Jews aren’t perfect. Neither is Israel. But… the venom aimed at us is not motivated by truth or justice. It is motivated by pure unadulterated hatred. I guess we should see that as a wake up call to help us be the best people we can be and to look for wisdom and inspiration from the values and ideals that have sustained us for 1000s of years.

    Yikes. That was long. And not a single pop culture reference there either.

  • Oh, Jewish identity battles. Will they ever end? Will people ever collectively love, accept, and be proud to be Jewish — whatever their denomination? Will there ever be peace in the Middle East? Will there ever be world peace? Oy, sometimes my thought process is just exhausting…

  • Sorry Margot. Wait. Was this a denominational issue? Why am I apologizing?

    Alexk: Sorry man. I was reading Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence and while he’s a tremendous writer, his languid pace and sometimes turgid prose necessitated some, frankly, mindless entertainment. That having been said, like Kyle in South Park, I learned something today. I learned that the effects of anti-Semitism are deep and pernicious. I also learned that while the guldene medineh is safe and welcoming, sometimes that safety comes at a price.

    Now, oh my G_d, will someone please kill Kenny. You bastards!

  • You’re a funny guy. You must work hard to abstain from pop culture. It’s very corrupting and debilitating. Shabat Shalom!

  • Look the fact of the matter is, many people watching these shows do not have anything against us they are simply playing on the puns of people who do. Which is what makes them so funny. In my house, a house full of jew’s lol we love South Park and Family Guy. Please learn how to lighten up, it is the same as some black people laughing at their higly used sterotypes and often protraying them for laugh’s among their own as well.

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