To Be a Jew in America: A Series of Disconnected Essays, Rants, and Rambling Profanities

by Matthew Parker

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When I was in High School, I was walking to or from Speech class–I can’t remember which, but it was in the basement near the JROTC armory, so it had to be Speech class since it was next door. As I was walking, a guy came up to me and asked me if I was a Satanist. I looked at him confused, and he pointed down to the Star of David I was wearing.

I said no, explained that he was thinking of a pentagram with five stars[1] and that this was a six pointed Star of David.

When I joined the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, one of the guys I was going through the degrees with caught me in the hall. He asked me if it was true Jews don’t believe in Jesus, because he’d never met one. I explained that it was true, that we could say he had some good teachings[2] but that he wasn’t the Messiah or Son of God to us.

The other night my roommate Pam read an Am I The Asshole[3] post to me. In it the poster confessed they’d told a friend not to go to a particular LGBTQ+ support group since the poster and the friend were Jewish, and when the poster had revealed that to the group previously they’d experienced pushback; they’d been told being Jewish meant they were homophobic, that they were Republican, and ended with them being told by one member that she would “Never fuck a kike.”

Last week (January 28, 2022), a candidate for the Unicameral Legislature[4] took out an advertisement in the Omaha Jewish Press to drum up support for her candidacy. It was a picture of her, her name, and the statement “I Stand With Israel.”[5] That was, apparently, deemed sufficient by her campaign.

This week a school board in Tennessee banned Maus, a very Jewish and Jew-centered Holocaust story, because it includes violence[6] and brief nudity[7]. Very serious minded people who otherwise would lose their entire shit about any kind of liberal book banning suddenly had lots of reasons to support this and offer other suggestions, all of which decentralize violence against Jews or even Jewish narratives from their telling of the Holocaust. Or to be weirdly and absently silent about this despite their willingness to Take To The Internet on literally any other topic they felt was in the slightest bit censorious, like removing glorious statues of dead slave owning traitors, in such an obvious way that it became clear they’re somehow OK with this one.

Being a Jew in America is a fucking trip, y’all.

  1. The Only Jew You Know

Jews make up approximately 2.2% of the population of the United States in 2022. That’s significantly higher than the total worldwide number where we make up roughly 0.19% of the billions of people on the planet.

There is only one state in this Union of ours where we are even pushing 10%, and it is exactly the one you think it is. South Dakota. Just kidding, all 250[8] Jews in South Dakota probably know one another. It’s New York, the one that occasionally gets turned into a slur[9]. In many other states we’re lucky to get to 2%, and in some states we’re lucky to get to 0.2%. I wasn’t kidding about the 250 Jews in South Dakota thing.

That’s one of the reasons why it is so easy for so much of the country to be so dismissive of us, or forget about us, or just not give a shit about us. A lot of them have never met us, and never will. And it can be disconcerting to think about sometimes, even for me–after all, everyone I’ve met has met a Jew, so surely there can’t be large swaths of the country who will never ever meet a member of the tribe. But there are. And they sit on school boards, and in state legislatures, and we’re an absolute hypothetical to them. We’re no more real than the giant wasps eating jam sandwiches from my Torts exams[10], or a story about a flash flood of a country they’ve never been to.

It’s also easy for the roughly 72% of this country that still thinks of themselves as Christian to put us in a very easy box. Jesus was a Jew, so we’re just proto-Christians. I’ll circle back to this more in-depth in a bit, because my deep and abiding loathing for the “Judeo-Christian Thing” continues unabated in the year of our virus 2022, but it’s worth remembering that it’s not just a cynical political manipulation–for a lot of people it is just the way the world is. A lot of very passionate people genuinely advocate for things because they think it is a common point between Christianity and Judaism, and they’re on our side![11]

Being a Jew in America means that you are part of a group of nearly 7 million people who are at most an abstraction and at best an appendage to the majority of this country. It means being a part of one of the oldest religious groups in the world that is nonetheless constantly overlooked, forgotten about, or ignored.

I mentioned before speaking to someone as the only Jew they’ve ever met. I’ve done that a lot, and I genuinely enjoy doing it–because I am someone who enjoys educating others, because I am proud of my faith and heritage and enjoy discussing it, and because I understand how much harder it is to decide to hate a group if you know people from it. But it is also a fascinating and frequently exhausting experience, because it means that part of my job is frequently being an ambassador for my people–and that if I mess it up, whatever I do wrong might well become part of this person’s view of The Jews as a whole.

It is by no means a unique experience; it is shared by anyone from a small minority group, whether on a national or local level. I had a friend in High School who was the first (although now by no means only) Muslim I’d ever met[12], for example; and it crosses religious, ethnic, racial, and cultural lines. But it is one that isn’t shared by the dominant ethnic or religious group in the country.

If you’ve never been in this experience, reader, I’d like you to imagine it. Imagine if many or even most of the people you interact with on a daily basis have never met your people, and that at any moment you might be called on to explain to them what your whole deal is. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Do you think you’d like it most of the time but sometimes it’s just so exhausting and you’re not sure what to say and you don’t want to be an asshole so this person doesn’t go home and start a new tweet with “God, aren’t all these [insert category] people such pricks? I bet they control the media?”[13]

  1. The Israel Thing

There’s really no better way to start this section of what is becoming a sprawling Festivus-like airing of grievances than saying: I am not a fucking Israeli citizen.

Feel free to pretend like that was individually addressed to Julie Fredrickson,[14] Donald Trump, or any other Republican whose argument for why Jews should support them is that they stand with Israel.

I don’t think that can be stressed enough. For the entirety of our diaspora history, Jews have been treated as foreigners. It’s such a shame that we never wrote anything in the Tanakh[15] about how you should treat foreigners in your land that another religion claiming to be our successors could have taken as a guide for how to treat us when they had the chance. What a missed opportunity.

This is the root of the Dreyfuss Affair, Napoleon recreating the Sanhedrin to ask it about us, and blood libel. All stem from the idea that Jews are not really from the countries they live in even if they were born there, served in the army, and have never lived anywhere else; no, we’re all loyal to either to other Jews in general or specifically to Israel. Thus we are treated as if we’re not American, French, or any other nationality–we must always be Jews first and foremost, loyal to the outside and never to be trusted.

In case you can’t tell, it drives me fucking crazy and I hate it.

Let me be clear, again: I am not an Israeli citizen. I am not loyal to Israel. It’s a nice country, I went there on a trip once and I had a great time. But it is a foreign political entity with which I have serious policy disagreements, that I feel falls down on a lot of moral issues, and that OH YEAH I WASN’T BORN IN AND DON’T HAVE A PASSPORT FOR GET OFF MY JOCK ABOUT ISRAEL.

It should go without saying, but as an American Jew who has been to Israel for exactly ten days I do not have the ability to influence: The wall, the Palestinian occupation, the settlements, military policy, foreign policy, court decisions, international aid going to Israel, rebuilding the Temple, or what Bibi Netenyahu does on any goddamn day of any goddamn week. I may have feelings about any or all of those things–read that as “I do have feelings about any or all of those things”–but they’re also none of your goddamn business and I don’t have to answer a single goddamn one of them to prove my credentials or acceptability to you. Goddamn.

And that applies to all sides. Because see what I reflexively did there, where I was making clear that I don’t support things like the blockade of Palestine or the wall? If the first paragraph of this unhinged rant was about the Right, this one is for the Left: I do not have to answer for Israel, I do not owe you an explanation about my disagreements with Israel, and to expect me to do any of that before I’m allowed in Leftist spaces is anti-semitism.

Because it is no less anti-semitic when Leftist spaces ask Jews to disavow Israel or state their political disagreements with Israel before we’re allowed into the realm of intersectionality and anti-racism than it is when Trump assumes if he just shouts “ISRAEL!” loud enough we’ll all come wandering to his side. Both of them assume that our fundamental loyalties must not be with what we say they are, that we must have secret ties to places we may or may not have ever been to and agree with policies that we literally didn’t have a vote on.

I have a hard time imagining that the Right makes Cardinal Timothy Dolan disavow Pope Francis before they let him into the meetings where they plot to outlaw abortion and gay marriage[16], although they do expect Muslims to do it every time some Muslim in the world does something bad–so shout out to my Muslim brothers and sisters as absolutely exhausted with this “dual loyalty” shit as we are.

And it goes back to the problem with us being hypothetical for most people in this country. I genuinely believe a huge number of people in this country don’t do it because they’re actively antisemitic, but because the structures and tropes of antisemitism are so common in our culture that they just don’t realize how horrible it is. They think that of course we’re loyal to Israel–that’s our nation, after all, our very own state. And they may even support that state for eschatological reasons we’ll discuss in a bit, so why wouldn’t we?

I love the concept of Israel. I love the ideal of a nation where Judaism can be safe, and where all Jews can know they have a place if they want it. Where we can attempt to live up to the commandment we were given of ‘Tzedek, Tzedek tirdof’–justice, justice shall you pursue. I am comforted by the idea of a nation where if things go badly, if the world turns on us again, we can at least try to make a final stand together.

But at the same time…I am an American. Born and raised. I have no other passport, I salute no other flag, I scream at few other country’s shitbag politicians as loudly. I am proud to belong to the United States, for whom the arc of justice is long but for whom it can be made to bend toward justice as long as we can drag ourselves kicking and screaming in that direction and fucking Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t fuck it all up for us. If we were attacked I would defend it[17], and if we were conquered I would fight to restore it[18]. I have served in very minor public office in it[19], and believe in the ideals it was founded on and which it has rarely if ever actually lived up to.

And what you tell me when you demand I vote for you because of Israel, or demand I flagellate myself with a whip labeled anti-Zionism before I can have a seat at the table, is that none of that actually matters. Because you, oh white Christian or Christian-turned-Atheist American, have decided that it cannot possibly be true because I’m Jewish. And that is antisemitism, and makes me want to beat you to death with a hammer just like Judah Maccabee.[20]

So seriously, get off our collective jocks about Israel, because there’s a Home Depot five minutes from my house and I have an envelope labeled “Hammers and Hammer Related Accessories.”

  1. Philosemitism – In Love With the Shape of Jews

But Matt, you might be saying, philosemitism means “Love of Semites aka Jews,” how can you be made about that when you are so mad about antisemitism? Surely you want everyone in the world to have some philosemitism?

And if you are saying that, know that I understand you, and appreciate you. I would prefer it if the whole world loved Jews. I would feel more comfortable wearing a Star of David, or putting a menorah in my window. It would be great. And I want you to know that.

But I also need you to understand that Philosemitism isn’t actually about loving Jews. It, as it exists in the world today, is the term used to describe people who love Jews for what we can do for them; who need us to exist for their own purposes; and who are, in fact, frequently antisemitic when it is anything that has to do with actual Jews as opposed to the theoretical Jews they have in their head or holy books.

I almost wrote a whole separate essay with the very clever title I used for this section, before I was overwhelmed by the amount of shit happening to Jews right now and decided it needed an omnibus response. But it is such a good way of describing it: Philosemites don’t love Jews; they’re in love with the shape of Jews, with Jewish resembling objects that can do things they want and then either go away or literally go to Hell.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Philosemitism does traditionally mean love of or appreciation for Jewish religion and culture; but most often in our modern context it is used to describe those people who just burst with how much they love Israel and Jews. They love us so much they want to copy our rituals and celebrate our holidays and build our temple again and want to reclaim a more Jewish church like Jesus would have had and and and…

And frequently erase us, suppress us, supersede us, and make it clear that their love for us is only a love for the trappings of Judaism as they believe Jesus would have understood it, without actually supporting Jewish beliefs in any way. Or that they love us so much because they know only the Jews can build the Third Temple, and Jesus needs us to do it for them so that we can kickstart the armageddon for them–the same armageddon, of course, which will see all of us burning in a fiery hell before being ultimately destroyed in their orgiastic climax of salvation.

Philosemitism is the love Elmyra from Looney Toons has for animals, the kind where you just squeeze so hard and love so much that mysteriously the animal ends up with its head popped off and you’re sad until you find another one.

Because notice what comes up a lot when you see posting about how much they love Jews or Judaism. A lot of it falls into the category we just discussed, where it is really just a love of Israel to get votes.

Another big chunk of it comes from people who love Judaism because they want to be Jews, but with Jesus. They feel like their modern church experience has lost something, that the political infighting or the appallingly bad music[21] has driven out the real experience; or that they just feel disconnected from their faith and want to go back to find something more real before the ceaseless march of time sullied it. And so they turn to Judaism to begin taking the pieces from it which feel ancient, or meaningful, or beautiful; a little bit at a time they take roof tiles from the metaphorical synagogue and use it to beautify their church, never thinking about what that means.

Another name for that kind of philosemitism is supersessionism, the idea that Christianity has superseded Judaism. As a religion, as God’s chosen people, as the inheritors of the Law and the traditions in it…any of it, or more often all of it. This is the kind of philosemitism that leads to people posting that Christians are the real chosen ones, or Mormons to claim that they know which Tribe of Israel they belong to (hint: none of them).

From this fertile ground comes the abomination of “Christian Seders” and other celebrations of the like, where Jewish traditions and heritage is repackaged into a Jesus-shaped present for Christians to enjoy all on their own. Stripped of all meaning and identity as Jewish, those holes can be filled with whatever the Christians participating want. Our holidays, our traditions, our messages, all become signposts for them to find the only surprise they ever want to find at the end of the journey: Jesus!

The third kind of philosemitism is attached to the “I Stand With Israel” kind, where it’s not that they want to be us–they just want to use us for theological ends. One of the most common interpretations among Christians who believe in Rapture and a certain reading of the Book of Revelation is that the apocalypse can’t start[22] until we rebuild the Temple in Israel. Once that’s done, bring on the thousand years of Satan’s rule, Christ appearing and throwing the devil into the lake of fire, and everyone who doesn’t believe in the right interpretation of how you can or cannot dance/love/sing/eat graham crackers gets destroyed!

The problem with all of those should be obvious. Judaism is its own independent religion, filled with great things, and does not exist solely to make you feel better about your rituals, or begin your end of the world. To reduce it to those things is just another form of antisemitism, no matter how much you gussy it up like you love us. You cannot love us while robbing our house, or hoping we all die in a fiery annihilation or give up our faith because you told us about Jesus.

So much of it ties back into what we discussed above–that to a lot of the people who feel this way, Jews aren’t a real thing. We’re an abstraction, or a stunted version of their own faith. They don’t need to engage with us in real terms, they just need to take what they want from us and replace us. They don’t have to think about how their policies create harm in the world, they just need to make sure they push barrel after barrel of money towards Israel because one day one of those barrels is going to break ground on a new Temple so they can start living through the end times they’ve been fetishizing for centuries.[23]

You cannot love someone if your love only exists to replace them or use them. You cannot love someone if your love is predicated on the belief that they are going to rot in hell, and that you’re OK with that as long as it means they’re going to end up in heaven. Love is patient, love is kind, love is not predicated on a predatory use of another to fill in the gaps in your own heart or because you just have such a boner for lakes of fire.

That’s not love, that’s abuse.

  1. Schrödinger’s White People

Am I white? That’s a question which comes up a lot more than you might think. It comes up both internally as I try to grapple with the potential answers and what they mean for my place in my communities and the world, and externally as other groups or people try to consider the same thing about me in reverse.

It’s not easy. You’d think it would be, if you look at me. Brown hair, pale skin, a genuinely sad attempt at facial hair to break up the roundness of my face. I look like pretty much a bog standard generic, overweight, middle aged white man. So in that respect the answer is obvious–yes, if I look like someone called central casting and asked for a white man who has made questionable health and hair decisions, then I’m white. Right?

But if the alt-right with their khakis and tiki torches takes over and creates their ethnostate, the best result for me is that I’m on the first plane or boat to Israel. The worst is that I’m against the wall being made a name for the memorial after all the new wave Nazis are eventually driven back into the holes they belong in. So if they’re coming for me then I must not be white, right?

This is a common problem for Jews in America, especially Ashkenazi[24] Jews or light skinned Sephardim[25] or anyone who doesn’t “look” Jewish. We can pass as white, but our Jewishness will fundamentally set us apart from our “fellow” white people depending on the circumstances. For a number of left wing circles we are white because we can pass, and therefore have nothing to bring to the table of intersectionality; for far right circles we are not white, and the fact that we can pass is an argument for our untrustworthiness and proof of our polluting their race.

We are Schrödinger’sWhite People–always exactly as white as will be the worst for us in any given situation.

Because notice that the above examples never work out in our favor. On the left wing we’re all too frequently denied a seat at the table because of the perception that we’re not targeted the same way as other minority groups. Remember the Am I The Asshole I mentioned at the start? That is by no means uncommon. Bringing our Jewishness to left leaning spaces is far too often to be told that anti-Semitism isn’t a problem in America, or be told that we can’t be there because Israel is colonial and oppressive, or asked how we can be discriminated against when everyone knows Jews are rich.

All of this, of course, while the neo-Nazis march shouting “They will not replace us,” and our synagogues are shot up or taken hostage.

And the right is filled with the Philosemitism I mentioned above where it isn’t outright filled with people who believe a lot of very 1930s ideas about what we’re doing to the white race, what industries we control, and who we are secretly aligned with when the Elders of the Protocols of Zion meet to talk about how to stick it to those pure Aryans we apparently hate so much.

To be a light-skinned or white-passing Jew in America is to always be the wrong amount of white to have a place at the table or a place of safety. It is never being the right amount of white to feel at home, as long as anyone knows we’re Jewish.

The only way out, to collapse the waveform of Schrödinger’s white people, is to hide who we are. Then we can be safe from the alt-right. Then we can be accepted as allies more universally among the left. Then we can just be generic white people, and potentially safe–as long as we never let a single bit of our Jewishness slip, or as long as we’re willing to renounce every single bit of it performatively and publicly. Which still wouldn’t be enough for the alt-right, but might work for the left.

Fuck that. I am never going to hide who I am. I am proud of my heritage, of the endurance of my people and the beauty of my religion. That is not to say that I do not understand that I am privileged in many ways, because of my complexion. That I do not understand that the ability to go out and just be another white face in a white crowd in most of this country is something that I can do and most members of most other minority groups cannot.

But what I need my fellow travelers on the left and the Philosemites on the right to understand is exactly how exhausting it is to be constantly buffeted on all sides by voices defining my whiteness for me. To have that part of my identity constantly revised by people who are not particularly doing it for my benefit or mental health, but are almost always trying to do it in an exclusionary or even hostile way.

I am white. I am also Jewish, which also makes me not-white. Not fully. Not completely. Not to the people who will come to purge those influences they think harm whiteness. I am not going to be made to constantly answer for Israel to prove my place at a table of fighting oppression when Jews were oppressed for at least a thousand years before some of the other forms of racism even started to be formed. I will not compromise my existence to have a seat at a table when the majority of the blood spilled during the Shoah was ours, and those voices are rising again in the world.

I refuse to be Schrödinger’s white people because it makes you more comfortable hating us.

  1. Judeo-Christian

I said that some of the issues come about because Judaism is often viewed in the Christian mindset as being a kind of primitive Christianity; that we’re not really our own religious faith, we’re just the people who couldn’t see where the next logical step was. We made our way to the train station, but were too afraid or deluded to get on the train. That we deserve pity because we were so close, and just need our Christian brothers and sisters to explain to us what Jesus is and explain us to the rest of the world.

Hence the phrase “Judeo-Christian,” which is one of the worst joinings in the history of the world and fills me with an unfathomable fiery rage. With credit to Iain M. Banks, describing my hatred for this phrase is best summed up by the ship name he created: Mistake Not My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Mere Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath.

If you find yourself speaking[26] and start to use the phrase “Judeo-Christian”, I want you to stop and consider whether you would be better served by just saying Christian.[27] I want you to stop and consider whether you would consider the sentence true if you replaced Judeo-Christian with Christo-Islamic, Judeo-Islamic, or Abrahamic Faiths. Because if none of those are true, then the point you’re trying to make isn’t true either. And if you stop and consider all of those things and decide to just power through with Judeo-Christian anyway, I hope that you’ll consider instead moving to a small cave in France and swearing an oath of silence while dressing in sackcloth and rubbing dirt on your hair to terrify and delight tiny French children rather than finishing that fucking sentence.[28]

When someone says Judeo-Christian most commonly what they mean is “Christian, but we want to pilfer some legitimacy by making it seem older and more universal.” They mean “Christian, but if we just call it Christian then we realize it makes Christianity look bad, so we’re going to launder our bigotry through Judaism in a legitimacy embezzling scam.”

The above mostly applies to media personalities, extremist pastors, right-wing nutjobs (which includes every Republican member of Congress), and the like. There are lots of regular people who use the phrase to discuss what they genuinely believe to be commonly held beliefs between the two religions, which do draw from a common background after all.

The only issue is that they’re wrong too.

Even on the broadest possible platform of platitudes there will be substantive differences between Judaism and Christianity. And the use of Judeo-Christian is almost always[29] done in a way that reinforces a Christian view while ignoring the frequently completely different view that Judaism has on the subject even if it gets to a vaguely similar position.

Whatever you think Judaism’s view on any specific topic will be, I promise you that the actual view is more nuanced, wider, weirder, and more beautiful (at least to my particularly biased view).

Here are some broad Jewish traditions which you must be willing to accept as universally true for Christianity if you are saying Judeo-Christian:

  1. Loving G-d with all your heart but still being willing to fight him in a Denny’s parking lot.
  2. Not knowing what happens to us after we die, and not particularly caring.
  3. Understanding the Tanakh as a series of culturally important stories and histories, rather than being literally accurate in every word.
  4. Accepting that oral and written commentary can be as or more persuasive than any written commandment in the Tanakh.
  5. That Angels are non-binary, and that Trans people are therefore accepted.[30]
  6. That there are, according to commentators, 6-7 genders, all of whom are entitled to live full and happy lives and marry.[31]
  7. That good sex is Torah[32], and a requirement to learn.
  8. That even if G-d comes down from on high to tell you that a particular ruling is right, if They had wanted to have the final word G-d shouldn’t have given us the books to interpret.[33]
  9. That after being told that in #7, God is delighted and considers it a good thing.
  10. That religion is not about blind obedience, but about being part of a six thousand year conversation about the nature of divinity in which the divine itself is a participant–and only a participant.[34]

Are all of those universally accepted by all Jews? No, of course not; there is a reason we are most frequently referred to in the Tanakh as a “stiff-necked people”, and one of the most common stereotypes about us is that if you have three Jews you will have five opinions on any subject.

But if you’re not willing to consider any or all of the above as attaching to your Christianity when you describe something as Judeo-Christian, you shouldn’t say it; because if you’re not comfortable getting weird and wonderful Judaism all over your Christianity, please don’t presume we’re comfortable with you spreading all of your Christian beliefs over our Judaism.

It would be bad enough if it were only a form of erasure, which it surely is–erasing Judaism to make Christian concepts seem more universally accepted. But it is also almost always used in an attempt to make someone else feel like they are an Other, a wrongness, a square piece in our round Western Judeo-Christian hole. It is never used, for example, to emphasize “The Judeo-Christian tradition of charity”[35] or “The Judeo-Christian tradition of holidays where part of the point is to get really drunk.”[36]

Instead it is weaponized to point to Muslims and other them by putting them outside of the “Judeo-Christian values,” when in reality for most of history Judaism and Islam have been much closer than Judaism and Christianity; it is used to demand that LGBTQIA+ people not have the same rights in society; it is used to discriminate against atheists. None of which, of course, is supported by actual Judaism–which on the whole recognizes Muslims as our siblings, LGBTQIA+ individuals as being children of the divine and worthy of love, and atheism as not being incompatible with either our civilization or Judaism in the slightest.

And that is what pushes the use of Judeo-Christian from merely making me angry to boiling over with an unceasing and magma-like fury. It isn’t enough that a whole phrase is used to erase Judaism’s unique and distinct ideology and history, its beautiful weirdness and weird beauty, but that it is also used almost universally in the pursuit of persecution with which we don’t agree. It first white washes Judaism, and then uses it as a cudgel against people for whom we have nothing but love and affection. It destroys us, and then uses us to destroy others.

If you want to say that something goes against your view of Christianity, just say it. If you want to say that something shouldn’t exist in our society because your religion says so, just say it. As the Twitter handle says, just say Christian! Because Jews are sick and tired of being forcibly made to carry water for whatever bullshit comes after the word Judeo-Christian.

So fucking stop using it.

  1. Conclusion

I don’t really have a conclusion here. There isn’t really a conclusion here, because this is an ongoing experience of being a Jew in America. We make up 2.2% of the population, but especially the last couple weeks we’ve made up way more than 2.2% of the conversation. Which is good in some ways, because it allows us to really discuss these issues and bring light to things. And it is also awful, because good lord are the Jews tired.

The genesis[37] of this whole monstrosity was about four different essays I’ve wanted to write about what it means to be a Jew in America, coalescing over the last four or five years. The Israel thing, the Judeo-Christian thing, etc. But they can’t necessarily be easily separated into discrete essays, because the whole thing is too interwoven and complex. The Judeo-Christian thing is a part of the Philosemitism thing, because without the “No, really, we LOVE Jews” part we wouldn’t get to the “Which is why we’re comfortable saying what Jews believe even when they tell us otherwise” part.

The only wrap up for this that there can possibly be is simply a list of things we’re absolutely begging you to stop doing, stop participating in, and stop accepting passively or actively.

Stop erasing us. From the world when we’re talking about bigotry, from any narrative, and most especially from the teaching of our own tragedies.

Stop trying to use us as a weapon or justification for the things you want to do.

Stop demanding of us things you demand of no other group so you can exclude us from the spaces we want to be.

Stop hosting Christian Seders. If you can’t manage an invite to an actual seder, think about what that means.

Stop seeing us as anything but our own independent faith, people, and tradition; stop trying to tell us what we have to do or believe or admit, and stop trying to tell us who we have to recognize as Jews or not.

Stop making it such a fucking trip to be a Jew in America. We just want to pay our taxes, watch Netflix, and worry about Passover coming up real soon.[38]

[1] Also not a Satanist symbol, but the hallway wasn’t the time for a comparative religion class.

[2] Turning the other cheeking and judging not lest are both bangers, for example.

[3] A Reddit subreddit (forum) dedicated to posts of people asking if they were an asshole based on their behavior, where users can vote.

[4] Nebraska is the only state in the Union with a Unicameral legislature, meaning we only have State Senators and not a second House.


[6] Violence is, one would assume, a central feature of most genocide stories.

[7] Of victims, portrayed as Mice. Mice victims. They’re super fucking concerned with some mouse butts.


[9] See, for example, the West Wing episode 1 (“New York sense of humor”) or an absolute billion Facebook and Twitter posts calling it Jew York. Real original, right?

[10] Shout out to Professor Bahadur for giving me some wild new sleep paralysis imagery.

[11] They are not.

[12] And for whom I was the first Jew he met, which was a genuinely enjoyable process for both of us.

[13] If we controlled the media, presumably you’d have never heard of Honeybaked Ham.

[14] The individual running for the Nebraska Unicameral.

[15] The Jewish scriptures are most properly called the Tanakh, rather than the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible. Tanakh is an acronym for the three parts of it: the Torah (the Law), Nevi’im (the Prophets), and Ketuvim (the Writings).

[16] These meetings are called “The Republican National Convention.”

[17] Ineffectually and with much crying.

[18] Also ineffectually and with much crying.

[19] See above.

[20] I may have fallen asleep in Hebrew School, but I do think that’s what happened. Otherwise why would they have called him “The Hammer?” Can’t call a guy The Hammer if he uses a sword, that wouldn’t make sense.

[21] In some cases. Some of it, although I don’t share its religious message, slaps.

[22] Or can’t proceed, depending on the interpretation.

[23] The Rapture and the associated pre- and post-millennial dispensationalism timelines and ideologies basically date back to the early 19th Century.

[24] Jews primarily of Eastern European descent.

[25] Jews primarily of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent.

[26] Always a bad idea.

[27] And then follow @justsayxtian on Twitter

[28] Presumably the children will say things like “Ooh la la, l’hermite est magnifique,” and now I’ve used up what little French I remember from High School.

[29] Like 99% of the time.

[30] See, e.g., Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg on Twitter.

[31] Id.

[32] Here meaning that it is a law/requirement.

[33] See, e.g., Joel Swanson, In The Talmud, God Admits He’s Wrong. There’s a Lesson There About Free Speech, The Forward (July 21, 2020).

[34] Credit to the Apocrypals for this wonderful line.

[35] Compare Isaiah 58:10 and James 1:27.

[36] Compare Purim and Mardi Gras.

[37] Get it, Genesis? Ba-dum-tiss.

[38] If you keep kosher it doesn’t matter if Passover just ended–next Passover is still too soon.

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