“Every Jew I know, I guess mostly through work, is kind of an ace in finance,” he explained in a telephone interview.
Bronxville, NY, February 8 – A local resident with little direct exposure to Jewish principles and practices confessed himself flummoxed today upon discovering that the term “Jewish values” refers to a set of behavioral and philosophical principles, and not to a level of savings on a purchase that would make a stereotypical bargain-hunter proud.
Trevor Duffy, 34, an investment adviser with Bank of America, realized only this morning that the phrase has precious little connection to commerce, and refers primarily to such tenets as social justice, care for the needy or infirm, loyalty to tradition, continually striving to improve the world, and support for intellectual achievement, among others. For years, the father of two had assumed the term denoted an appreciation for securing a good price, a value that he encounters with some frequency in his chosen field.
“Every Jew I know, I guess mostly through work, is kind of an ace in finance,” he explained in a telephone interview. “So is everyone else in my business, I suppose, but you know, Jews and money – it just makes sense. I’m still skeptical of this new bit of information, to tell you the truth.”
Duffy reported that his epiphany occurred while reading a thank-you note from the child of a Jewish colleague, written in appreciation of Duffy’s gift on the occasion of her Bat Mitzva. The twelve-year-old had requested that in lieu of providing her with material goods or monetary instruments, guests donate to a specific charity that provides hot meals for schoolchildren unable to afford them, “in keeping with Jewish values,” as she had printed on the invitation.
It took several times through the phrase for the penny to drop, recalled Duffy. “I was standing there, open invitation in hand, just staring at the words,” he recounted. “I must have been in that position for a good minute or so, because my wife had to ask four or five times if something was wrong before I even heard her and responded.”
When it finally dawned on him that the phrase “Jewish values” means something other than what he had assumed ever since he could remember, he admitted feeling a sense of inadequacy. “Probably the best word for my emotional response was ‘shame,'” he related. “Shame, because the truth was around me all along, but I was oblivious to it. And that obliviousness might have been my own doing. So guilt, rather than shame, perhaps.”
“Guilt. That’s a Jewish value, isn’t it?” he asked.