It’s not like you can never find enough Jews in Washington, DC and New York. They are everywhere. And if you aren’t Jewish then your best friend is -- or you are at least half Jewish. Jews! Jews! Jews!
However, this is not the case in the rural Midwest where I decided to go to college. What was I thinking? Just today they told us it was a Category III snowstorm and last week there was a Hurricanado and we all had to duck for cover and pray to the holiest of holies that we would stay alive.
Well, whatever, I decided to go to the Midwest and stick it out, and in the process, I found a lot of rude people making ignorant comments.
I have categorized these comments into a few groups. First, the people who are plain ignorant and think they have never met a Jewish person before. Second, the people who just want to be Jewish so fucking bad they envy you and all your money and curly hair and big nose that they say things to try and “relate” to you and your Jewishness. Third, the people who think they are comedians. Fourth, a clusterfuck of all of the above. (Is that possible? Probably.)
My mom warned me that I was going to meet some people with different values and beliefs, but honestly I had no idea that it would be this bad. The things people say to me about being Jewish are so uninformed I could write a "Seinfeld" episode about it. Then become famous and make a ton of money. Then scam some people and make even more money. Then do the Horah to celebrate all the goddamn money I made. Right?
I’d say some of their comments are “racist” but Judaism is not a race. Oh, you knew that? Apparently they didn’t know that here in the white tundra. The second week of my freshman year at college I was told by a friend that she was so happy that I was her second ethnic friend at school -- right next to the black girl she met.
Really? Everyone is "ethnic," and, no, I am not more ethnic than the pasty-ass white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes that lives down the hall.
Or the time when I told a group of students that Hillel (Jewish organization on campus) was throwing a Purim party, and they all asked what it was. As I was happily about to explain, a kid chirped up and explained for me -- saying, "It's like a Jewish version of 'Passion of the Christ.'" I am guessing he didn’t think about the fact that there is a long-running belief that Jews are responsible for Christ’s death.
On top of that, why does Purim have to be explained in comparison to Christianity? Why couldn’t he just let me tell the tale of how Mordecai and Queen Esther kicked Haman’s ass and foiled his plan to destroy the Jews? And how to celebrate we guzzle wine and eat those three-cornered cookies? It’s like how everyone says, “Donald Glover is totally like a black James Franco.”
No, James Franco is like a white Donald Glover.
I have taken a bunch of mental notes of things I cannot stand when people say. Pay attention if you don’t want your Jewish friends to secretly hate you and tell all their other Jewish friends how much you suck.
1. DO NOT tell me how much you want to be Jewish and how you envy me for all my Jewishness.
Oh, you named your fish Abraham -- "Abe," for short -- and you want to bring him to all the Hillel meetings, because you are convinced he is Jewish? The last time I checked your fish was dumb as rocks and orange, so unless he is a super smart fish who wants to have his Bar Mitzvah, leave him in your room. He is not Jewish.
You only date Jewish guys and you absolutely love bagels? You’d schmear cream cheese on them if it wasn’t for the fact that you were lactose intolerant? Just stop. You sound stupid and like you think I am going to hug you and take you to my secret Jew lair where I throw coins at you and make my special Jew bagels by hand.
And, no, as one of the Presidents of my campus’s Hillel I will not use all of our efforts to petition for a better bagel shop for you in the neighborhood. Sorry, professor who asked me this in real life, you are going to have to schlep all the way to the next major city for the good stuff.
I’m all for people being interested in Judaism and wanting to know more. I even think it’s cool if you want to come to a Shabbat and learn how to make brisket. But the second you tell me you have “Jew Envy,” I think you suck. A lot. And yes, everyone from a professor in the middle of class to some kid I talked to like once has told me they have “Jew Envy." If you really wanted to be Jewish, you’d convert.
2. DO NOT use the word Nazi in EVERYDAY CONVERSATION. I will body slam you and you won’t even see it coming.
Like, oh, my god, my professor is such a Nazi when he grades quizzes. I went to cycling class today and the teacher was such a Nazi. But whatever my legs look great!
OK, so I understand that even Jews use this word and it’s whatever. But, how about not using it like it’s the only word in your vocabulary. Please?
Last time I checked Nazis murdered 6 million Jews. The ones they didn’t murder had to flee, some never seeing their family ever again. If that’s the only word you can find to describe your professor or cycling teacher then pick up a dictionary. Should I say please again?
3. If ONE MORE PERSON tells me they don’t get why people are STILL talking about the Holocaust, I will just walk away. Nobody’s got time for that.
But it happened so long ago, right?
You have been misinformed. It happened during World War II, so if you’re my age that means you more than likely have grandparents who lived through it. The fact that there are Nazis still alive and watching Jay Leno gives me the shivers. (It’s so typical that they would watch Leno and not Letterman.)
And I have met many Holocaust Survivors who still want their story to be told. So sit down and watch the darn documentary your professor is making you watch for class.
Do not get me started on the people who think it is socially acceptable to make Jew Jokes. I specifically remember sitting in my college’s library with my two friends and one looked at me and said, “Wanna hear this Jew joke that I know?”
No, I didn’t really, but she was going to tell it anyway. This girl had the nerve to laugh uncontrollably while asking me what’s the difference between Jews and pizza? I don’t know -- they are both AWESOME!?
She had tears in her eyes because she was laughing so hard and could barely get out the punch line, “Pizza doesn’t scream when you put it in the oven.” Needless to say, I was not impressed.
There is always the other side, where people want to tell me how sorry they are for my chosen people. When I was around seven years old, I remember being in the back seat of my German babysitter’s old Volvo leaving the grocery store when she said from the front seat, “I am so sorry about the Holocaust.”
At seven years old, I just told her that it was “OK.”
My babysitter was like 18 and definitely should not have been apologizing for something that she did not do. Maybe she knows that some of her family members did and feels guilty, but honestly that is probably not the best way to go about dealing with it. This would be the perfect time to sit your ass down and watch "Schindler’s List."
4. Please stop asking me why I don’t look Jewish. Sorry I forgot my horns at home.
You’re Jewish? But you’re like really pretty. And your nose is small and your hair is straight. I don’t get it.
There have been so many times when I have told someone I am Jewish and I am taken aback by their response. I’ve been told everything from that I look just like their Christian friends to them telling me they are 1/8th Jewish and can totally relate.
Relate to what? The fact that someone in your family knocked up a Jewish girl in the bathroom at their mutual friends’ Hanukkah Party does not mean we are besties.
And that group of people who tells me that I am the first Jew they have ever met and how exciting it is for them. They’ve probably already met a Jew, but didn’t know it. Jews don’t usually wear signs saying “I AM A BIG JEW” around.
And stop asking me to speak “Jewish." Do you want me to tell you about the Torah portion I had for my Bat Mitzvah? It was about scapegoats and blah blah. Sorry, but I can’t speak Hebrew, and if it weren’t for Hebrew School I wouldn’t be able to read it either.
5. Please stop asking me if I would like bagels and cream cheese with that fish stuff on it (you mean lox).
Just because I am Jewish does not mean I have this insane craving for bagels all the time. It’s not like I am a bagel-vampire and to live I must have blood-enhanced bagels or I will start killing townspeople. That’s a bagel-libel! Honestly I’ve always secretly wanted to be a vampire, so maybe this is my way in.
Sorry, Midwest, but your bagels aren’t even that great.
Thank you, but I will be a snob and wait until I am back on the East Coast to eat a bagel.