(This post first appeared in Jewish Business News.)

The hit 90s sitcom “Friends” aired one of the biggest insults to the Jewish religion to ever appear on an American television show. And this was on an episode which purported to be about the importance of the Chanukah holiday.

In its ten years on television, the producers of “Friends” made no effort whatsoever to acknowledge the Jewish identities of half the show’s main characters, Ross, Rachel and Monica. In all of the flashbacks of their childhoods there was never any reference to a Bat or Bar Mitzvah. Not once did they ever make mention of celebrating Rosh Hashanah or of having a Passover Seder.

Friends did not try to offer its viewers the slightest hint that these three were Jews except for their last names, Geller and Green. And we never even saw any Jewish clichés like we got from time to time on Seinfeld.

The one and only exception came in the sitcom’s seventh season. After 150 episodes had already aired, on December 10, 2000, viewers around the world were treated to an episode titled, “The One with the Holiday Armadillo.” In it Ross Geller, played by Jewish actor David Schwimmer, suddenly gets anxious about his son’s knowledge of his Jewish roots at Chanukah time. The boy, Ben, is already 6 years old at the time. No explanation is given for Ross’ abrupt concern for the holiday.

So what happens? Ross is too late to find a costume to wear that would in some way be fitting for Chanukah. All he can find is an armadillo suit. So of course he wears it to entertain his son.

Someone thought that seeing David Schwimmer in the ridiculous costume would be so hilarious that it would make the episode. It did not. It instead was an insult to Jews everywhere.

Ross explains the costume to Ben saying that he is Santa’s Tex-Mex friend: the Holiday Armadillo. Why would he have a helper of Santa’s teach his son about Chanukah?

The show ends with a close up of the lit menorah and of course the playing of the song “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof. That brought a tear to no one’s eyes.

The people in Hollywood who make TV shows do not seem to like religion very much. The Jews among them also seem to be more embarrassed than proud of their own religion. This is apparent from the way in which Jews and Jewish holidays are portrayed. While there are many examples of this, “The One with the Holiday Armadillo” episode of Friends is clearly the worst offender.

Oh why, oh why, can’t we be treated to an honest and realistic portrayal of Jewish traditions in movies and on television shows? Let’s see, in addition to this there was the Yom Kipur episode on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and movies like “The Hebrew Hammer” and “Eight Crazy Nights.”

If such absurd depictions of Muslims or Hindus practicing their religions and celebrating their holidays were ever to appear on television, the same people who make the shows like “Friends” would kick and scream about its being racist and offensive. Oh well.

About the author

Gil

Gil Tanenbaum made aliyah from New York after he completed college. He Has lived in Israel for over 20 years. He has an MBA from Bar Ilan University and is a contributor for various blogs.

22 Comments

  • Good call Gil. Yes, the portrayal of Judaism on t.v. and in movies has been pathetic. Maybe the writers and producers of these shows (many of who are Jewish) are over-compensating but that might be wishful thinking. One wonders why so many of us spend time talking about which star or movie producer is Jewish or half-Jewish or quarter-Jewish. Why waste mental energy on such false messiahs?

    The Friends episode was stupid. Putting Fievel Mousekewitz on Christmas Stockings in Happy Meals was bad judgment and greedy. But if you really want be outraged then watch a special Christmas segment of the short-lived t.v. show Smash (Episode #14 “Previews”). The feuding secular Jewish songwriting team of Julia and Tom go to a gospel church on Christmas Eve and their relationship is resurrected. Replacement theology at its best.

    • Jews need to be attacked and killed on the streets all over the planet. Especially, in the USA!

      • Who are you kidding? An impotent little limpdick like you couldn’t kill a housefly. My 80-year-old bubbe could beat the crap out of you, so keep hiding behind your keyboard, you little Nazi pussy.

        • Dear oh Dear…..and what about people that luv jews and Muslims do you want to shoot US aswell??……you know something your as ablout as wellcome here as coronavirus…..another biologically engineered program……have you met hoof yet by the way??

  • Maybe because Jewish folk are better than that? So what if that god awful show missed the mark; it’s terrible. Jews have arisen to succes in countless fields and I think it is, in part, due to the fact that they need not cry victim because of a stupid TV show.
    I expect muslims to cry on whenever anyone says anything but the People of the Jewish Faith are better than that, inspirational even how they carry on; focused no matter what is said and done.
    Stop crying about it and live up to the name.

    • Respect all religions. While you write, you capitalize Jewish but Muslim. Is this Jewish Faith you are talking about?

    • Whilst the portrayal of Jewish traditions was poor, what an utterly disgusting mindset you have, letting us know you would assume Muslims would play victim. You state an entire religion would play victim, because you are a racist prejudiced man. There are entire TV shows that are dedicated to insulting Muslims such as Citizen Khan where most cast members are not Muslim. However this single episode has enraged much of the Jewish community resulting in blog posts about it. Do try to use your brain and not unnecessarily pit religion against religion.

    • What lovely semicolons you use George, yet sadly no understanding of capitalisation nor grammar, perhaps explaining your false knowledge of millions of people. Are you God? You pretend you know how millions think.

  • at google type……..Andrew dedman mi5……don’t like dedman don’t like tv..shalom

  • Hahahaha…what a load of nonsense. Stop playing the victim role. The nasal whining has gone on too long. Like ANY religion, judaism is just a set of myths and stories to create a bit of cohesion among what basically are not ver uniform or always compatible individuals. In a time like this, we can let go of the need to portray jews as a ridiculously sensitive demographic…the “poor prosecuted minority” role is not how a sane, healthy ethnic identity can be built. We are no longer in the middle ages and the myth is no konger maintainable. We are no longer waiting for a non-existent Mashiah to fulfill the prophesies.

  • Monica does refer to her Bat Mitzvah in the episode where Ross was playing the bagpipes. She said he also did that at her Bat Mitzvah.

  • What a bunch of silliness. Friends speed more deference to and respect for the heads religion than Christianity (or any other religion). This episode showed more concern for judaism than the entire series combined ever showed about Christianity. Come of it

  • Ross wanted to tell Ben about channakah but Ben asked about Santa and got upset that Santa wasn’t coming. That’s why Ross went to look for a costume for Christmas, not channakah. There were no Santa costumes left so he made up the armadillo costume and then later realized he could still try to teach Ben about his other culture. So no he wasn’t looking for a channakah costume. If you’re going to be offended maybe you should get your facts straight first because facts are if any religion was benign “insulted” it was Christmas or just holidays in general but it’s a sitcom so everything’s meant to be taken with a grain of salt anyway.

  • Is there anything you filthy Jew demons won’t whine about?!? Too bad dude only killed one of you a couple weeks ago!

    • Im suprised the moderator hasnt removed you from this site and blocked your sic mind…..please try to read the Quran aswell as the Bible and the Torah and come back again in a few billion years when we may consisder forgiveness….really……we aint as patient as HOOF!!!

  • What an utter crybaby. You should be ashamed of yourself. Especially for this :-

    “If such absurd depictions of Muslims or Hindus practicing their religions”

    When the reality is that JEWISH screenwriters ALONE have done EXACTLY that. Leave alone other American media.

    Sickening.

  • Hello forgive me for writing this out….erm I dont drink or eat pork and havent done so for a long ,long time so i suppose im getting there…..in times of war and emergency we the people?! huh? have to hijack publishing space must stress dont fully support alot of sites but its important Israel gets the INTEL first…sooo its been a long three years….hope this site helps Dark Politricks

    http://www.darkpolitricks.com/2020/04/well-it-seems-google-really-didnt-like.html

    Friendz of hoof!

    4/23/2020 at 5:45 pm

    If you guys read between the lines you will now what our mission here is!!!! lots of interesting intelligence theories here …hope it help[s!
    Dark Politricks….please we dont eat pork…

    http://www.darkpolitricks.com/2020/04/help-me-create-real-altnews-search.html

  • what meant to say is we dont eat pork or drink!!!!!!!! and we luv hoots and yims and hooves and hoof!!!! HOO HOOO HOO….its been a long three years….

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