The life and times of an ethnically ambiguous little lady.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So This Rabbi Walks into a Bar

I was told once that I seem to have "some issues" with being Jewish. Honestly, I don't. I just have some issues with the negative stereotypes that are associated with them.

I grew up in an area that wasn't exactly the mean streets. (Lower Merion, outside of Philadelphia, son!) I knew a lot of Jewish kids who were nice people, but spoiled rotten. Who grew up among privilege and whose parents never managed to cut the purse strings. I'm sorry, but if you're over 25 and you still have a credit card that goes to your parents, I see that as a problem. And if the most important thing that you're looking for in a husband is that he's Jewish, despite the fact that you were never bat mitzvahed, I have an issue with that.

But there's also a lot I appreciate about my religion. I like that our families are tight knit. I like that we have traditions that we gather to share. And I love the sarcastic snarky wit that travels from generation to generation; God knows we wouldn't have Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice, Joan Rivers, or Judy Gold without it.

And there's the debate as to whether Judaism is a religion or a race or both. Many argue that there is no land called Jewishtan (apparently they’ve never been to South Williamsburg). Then again, I feel like if you have a disease just for your own people—Tay-Sach's anyone?—then maybe that allows you to pull the race card. Then again, maybe it just means that if there aren't too many Jews around, you might want to consider marrying the neighbor that isn't your cousin.

But while I have mixed feelings, I don't seem to be the only one. They say the Jews run the entertainment industry, and I think there are indeed a few of Heebs in the biz. But if we're so proud, why change our names? Why isn't Jon Stewart still John Leibowitz? Why isn't comedian Jeffrey Ross still Jeffrey Lifshultz? Why doesn't Slash from Guns and Roses go by his first name, Saul? (What? A guy named Saul can't rock out?) Sure, at one time it was to be able to work, but if a guy with a name like Barak Obama can run for president of the United States, why is there the need to hide your background?

I was hit on by a guy after a show recently. He walked right up to me and said, "I'm not Jewish, but I do have a big nose." Is he going to tell me next that he's also cheap and a mama's boy? Maybe it bothered me so much because I'm afraid that people take a look at me and those are the stereotypes they see. Then again, maybe they just see the sarcastic, funny delicious Jewy center.

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