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Old 02-25-2020, 08:43 AM
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Wandering Jew (the plant)


First off, if I hadn't mentioned it, would you have known I was referring to a plant?

If you're not familiar, they look like this.

Anyway, I was in the garden section at Squalmart and was admiring one of these plants. A guy was passing by and commented that it looked like a healthy one. I said I hadn't seen one in a store or nursery for ages and then I looked at the label and remarked , laughing, "I see they don't call them wandering jews anymore". He kind of laughed and proceeded to tell me "it's just like how we're not allowed to call Goliath Grouper "Jew Fish" anymore. They called them that because they'd always steal your bait"
All I could really say is "good to know".

Let me preface this by saying I'm not particularly offended but I don't think they're really the same. And I can see how someone could be quite offended so why on earth this guy thought making a crack like that to a perfect stranger was a good idea I cannot imagine. Of course, I commented first about the name of the plant but again, not the same thing.
What do you all think? Also, why did these plants disappear for so long? Do they still call them Wandering Jews elsewhere? I had no problem finding them online under that name.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post

Let me preface this by saying I'm not particularly offended but I don't think they're really the same. And I can see how someone could be quite offended so why on earth this guy thought making a crack like that to a perfect stranger was a good idea I cannot imagine.
Well, ya know...people. They're not too bright.


Wandering Jew is the only name I know that plant by, but I'm not surprised it isn't the one a nursery would use.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:23 AM
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Sinc "Wandering Jew" is based on an anti-Semitic legend, it's not surprising that common name for the plant/genus has fallen out of favor.

"Jewfish" also has ugly connotations.

"The descriptions of jewfish by Ogilby and Jordan quoted above make it obvious to us. The physical and behavioral characteristics mentioned by them are ones that many jewfishes share: large size, stout body, ugly head with a large mouth, dull color, and sedentary behavior, yet with voracious feeding habits."

https://medium.com/@garydavidgrossma...e-99e34b6a6693

Nice.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 02-25-2020 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:39 AM
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Let me preface this by saying I'm not particularly offended but I don't think they're really the same.
You mentioned an offensive name for a plant, he mentioned an offensive name for a fish. Seems pretty comparable to me.
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Old 02-25-2020, 11:44 AM
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Mrs. Plant (v.2.0) who is Jewish said, "It is okay because of the diaspora".
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Old 02-25-2020, 12:56 PM
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You mentioned an offensive name for a plant, he mentioned an offensive name for a fish. Seems pretty comparable to me.
I didn't know the plant name was offensive; still not really sure that it is. Comparing a fish to "thieving jews" is a tad harsher, I think.
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Old 02-25-2020, 01:01 PM
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^ This.
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Old 02-25-2020, 01:53 PM
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The Wandering Jew myth seems pretty offensive to this non-Jew.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew

Quote:
The Wandering Jew is a mythical immortal man whose legend began to spread in Europe in the 13th century.[1] The original legend concerns a Jew who taunted Jesus on the way to the Crucifixion and was then cursed to walk the earth until the Second Coming. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character; sometimes he is said to be a shoemaker or other tradesman, while sometimes he is the doorman at the estate of Pontius Pilate.
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Old 02-25-2020, 02:09 PM
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The Wandering Jew myth seems pretty offensive to this non-Jew.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew
I imagine that anything said about Jews in 13th century Europe was offensive.
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Old 02-25-2020, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Abner Ravenwood View Post
The Wandering Jew myth seems pretty offensive to this non-Jew.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew
Just curious; is that the origin story most people know / have heard? I wasn't aware of it until today.
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:25 PM
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I also thought it was called that because of the Jewish people's dispersal across the globe. (That's what the "diaspora" comment ^^ meant, right?)

Hell, I never heard of the "cursed to wander forever" story in the 1st place.
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Old 02-25-2020, 04:22 PM
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The plant that's known in my area as 'Wandering Jew' looks like this and it's an evil weed, nobody would ever sell it in a nursery. I pull it out of my garden by the bucketful.

People these days tend to call it 'Wandering Dew' which sounds nearly identical and is much less offensive (while admittedly making very little sense)
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Old 02-25-2020, 07:19 PM
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My first thought is of the The Flying Dutchman: the captain is cursed, like the Wandering Jew, to live until judgement day. The idea re-occurs in popular culture in ideas like The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

I also know the name of the weed, so seeing the clarification in the title didn't surprise me.

Naming a weed that's cursed to wander the garden and not die, after a similarly cursed Semitic villain seems a natural association to me, and yes of course it's offensive to anybody who associates the term with real people.

And it is a weed. All the worst weeds are nice-looking garden plants.

Last edited by Melbourne; 02-25-2020 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
The plant that's known in my area as 'Wandering Jew' looks like this and it's an evil weed, nobody would ever sell it in a nursery. I pull it out of my garden by the bucketful.

People these days tend to call it 'Wandering Dew' which sounds nearly identical and is much less offensive (while admittedly making very little sense)
You can buy that as groundcover here in the American Midwest.
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Old 02-25-2020, 09:21 PM
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Another politically incorrect plant name:

Mother-in-law's Tongue. (Snake Plant)
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Old 02-26-2020, 04:23 AM
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I said I hadn't seen one in a store or nursery for ages and then I looked at the label and remarked , laughing, "I see they don't call them wandering jews anymore".
Wait. So what are the calling this plant now? It's always been Wandering Jew for as long as I've known. Is it just "spiderwort" now? Or "Tradescantia" (which seems to be a genus name for several related plants)?
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Old 02-26-2020, 09:07 AM
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Wait. So what are the calling this plant now? It's always been Wandering Jew for as long as I've known. Is it just "spiderwort" now? Or "Tradescantia" (which seems to be a genus name for several related plants)?
I think it was Tradescantia. Definitely a scientific name, anyway.

As someone who comes from a Jewish family the name doesn't offend me / never offended anyone I know, so it will remain Wandering Jew for me.
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Old 02-26-2020, 10:49 AM
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This Tradescantia is what I have always know as spiderwort. It is a native of the South.
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Old 02-26-2020, 11:53 AM
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This one is what I've always heard referred to as Wandering Jew.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:27 PM
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This one is what I've always heard referred to as Wandering Jew.
This is the one my grandma used to grow. She was VERY Jewish, and never expressed being offended by the name.
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Old 02-26-2020, 12:54 PM
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I bought a entire flat of Wandering Jew last year.
Lowe's sells it as Purple Heart. But I knew it's real name.

A great plant that grew really tall last summer. It died after the first frost.

Fingers crossed that it comes back this spring. We had a mild winter and there's a good chance it survived.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:05 PM
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The "Purple Heart" variety of Tradescantia is supposedly hardy to zone 7, meaning it might survive a winter low in the low teens, depending on location, mulching etc.

As for names, my rule of thumb is that if one is offensive to most or even a substantial minority of an an ethnic or religious group, then it might be a good idea not to use it, whether or not you have anecdotal evidence of a group member not taking offense. You could probably have found black people in the 1940s who said they didn't care about someone naming a black dog "Nigger".*

*Yes Virginia, some folks actually did this, and might have been shocked to be viewed as racist.**
**There's an example in Sinclair Lewis's 1947 book "Kingsblood Royal", an over-the-top novel about what can go wrong when one does a family ancestry search.
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Old 02-26-2020, 03:22 PM
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This is the one my grandma used to grow. She was VERY Jewish, and never expressed being offended by the name.
Well, color me surprised. As an Australian American, I'd be slightly unimpressed by an Australian garden plant called "The Yankee" or "American Tourist" but around here most garden plants are introduced species.

What was her background? I'd have thought many people her age would have been aware of the NAZI film normally translated as "The Eternal Jew" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Et...ew_(1940_film)
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Old 02-27-2020, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
I bought a entire flat of Wandering Jew last year.
Lowe's sells it as Purple Heart. But I knew it's real name.

A great plant that grew really tall last summer. It died after the first frost.

Fingers crossed that it comes back this spring. We had a mild winter and there's a good chance it survived.
The tradscanti that are native make it through the Winter in Arkansas. The spiderwort in my front yard is already putting out leaves.
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