I'm NOT Jewish!

Altough my heritage is Irish/Italian (75% former), most people that meet me for the first time think that I am Jewish. I have wavy black hair and a nose that while not huge is still larger than what would be thought of as average-sized. I also occasionally wear glasses, which seems to cause an upswing in comments.
I went to an all boys Catholic high school. On my first day of track practice in March of my sophomore year, I walked by an upperclassman who stared at me and sneered, “What are you - Jewish?” Thus I was introduced to the wonderful world of anti-semitism. Over the next 8 years or so I didn’t have any confrontations, but I was reminded fairly often that I looked Jewish. Sometimes it was one of the first two or three questions that I would be asked.
When I was about 23 I was teaching theology at a Catholic high school (where my mother has been teaching for the past 20 years). While driving home, I accidentally cut off a car who was in my blind spot. The car followed us to the house, and as I got out of the car, the driver rolled down his window and yelled, “YOU FUCKING JEW!” about 7 or 8 times before screeching off. Did I mention that my mother was right next to me?
A couple of years later I was working in an espresso bar - it happened to be my first day at this particular branch. A homeless man walked in and said “Gimme a glass of water.” I told him that I could not and that he would have to vacate the premises. He then looked at me before uttering, “Just like a fucking Jew.” Dumbstruck, I responded, “Excuse me?” To which he replied, “You heard me. I hope there’s a second Holosaust.” Then he shuffled out of the store.
A couple of months ago, I went into a bagel store near my house to get some decaf coffees. I had to wait while a new pot was brewed. I saw a newspaper at an unoccuppied seat, so I sat in front of it and opened the paper. A young man across the table told me that someone was sitting there. It was obvious that his friend would be in the next seat, so I disagreed and stayed put. He then says, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” Before this, I figured that maybe I was not being altogether considerate and that I could have moved. However, when he made that comment, I lost all control of my temper. I said, “What does that have to do with the price of tomatoes?!” He kept saying, “I’m right, aren’t I?” He even wanted to take it “outside”.
The last episode was the only time that I exploded in the nearly twenty years that I have been exposed to this brand of hate. My problem is that because I am not Jewish, I am somewhat removed from the hate directed towards me. It has caused me at times to resent Jewish people for being the target of hate to begin with.
I don’t know how I can reach any sort of catharsis. Any suggestions, fellow dopers?

I’m sorry that people are such jerks (for lack of a more powerful word).

I look ambiguous enough that I could pass for being Jewish…or basically almost anything. But I haven’t ever gotten any mean comments. Not yet, anyway.

I can’t think of any suggestions, except to remind you that the people you’re dealing with aren’t worth your time. You already figured that out, though, I’m sure…Again, sorry this kind of stuff has happened, and that I can’t think of any sort of real suggestions…

Well, your user name certainly isn’t helping.

Damn. Where do you live anyway? Is this kind of stuff going on right under my nose and I’m unaware of it? I’m not Jewish myself, but I always thought if there were rampant antisemitism in my environment I’d be aware of it. There was a gaybashing thread, maybe we need an antisemitism thread.

I don’t know about having a catharsis, but I don’t understand how you could resent Jewish people for being the target of hate to begin with.

I’m also an Italian who looks Jewish and I’ve had a few experiences like you had, although not as severe. Gives a gentile a nice little reminder of how anti-semitism is still around.

Touche, Ethilrist.
My user name was borne out of a tribute to Life of Brian - I would occaionally put the name “Jehovah” on sign up boards for pool tables in bars, many times just before I would leave - just for the simple pleasure of imagining drunken people shouting the name “Jehovah” with no reply.

Well, Cuauhtemoc, I currently reside in Bergen County. As far as resenting Jewish people, I can’t really explain it. It’s not something that I hold onto. It is part of a gamut of emotions that run through me when trying to make sense of the misdirected hatred.

“You’re Jewish, aren’t you?”

“No, but you wish I were.”


“If I were Jewish, you wouldn’t be an idiot.”

I’ve been called a “kike” and a “dirty jew-boy” on a couple of occasions. I find it a little funny because I come from a presbyterian scotch-anglo-german family but also disturbing because people still feel this way towards the jews. Once during a interview the interviewers first question was “Let me guess your jewish right?” I was pretty insulted not because someone thought I was jewish, but that anyone would ask this question. I

I’m not Jewish, but many people think I am because of my last name. Apparently a somewhat uncommon name for Anglo-saxons from England is a well-known Jewish name in my current neck of the woods.

Having a jewish aunt (who married into the family) only confuses the issue.

Funny, I practically have to pull out a kipah and prayer book and speak Yiddish before people believe that I’m Jewish… :rolleyes:

::crosses Bergen County NJ off list of places to visit::

I once had a Hispanic boyfriend accuse me of being a “closet Jew” because of my last name. I’m a blonde, green-eyed Scandinavian-looking girl, but he INSISTED that he cared about me no matter what, and I should just come out and be proud of myself. I hardly knew how to respond.

My dad’s boss belonged to a club that wouldn’t allow Jews or blacks. My dad wouldn’t let us go there either.

Actually, I can’t imagine any Jewish person using “Jehovah,” which is a German-English bastardized version of The Name with a serious error in the vowel placement.

Jehovah is strictly an American gentile name.
(Jehowah might be a German name, but I have not encountered anyone with it.)

A friend of mine was at a science fiction convention when he was a teenager. He had been swimming in the pool with some friends, and was waiting in a crowd of people by the elevator to go back to his room. He was wearing a t-shirt and his bathing suit, carrying a towel.

A man walked up to him. “Excuse me, are you jewish? We need another man for a minyan.”

He couldn’t figure out how they knew he was jewish. I told him to stop wearing Speedos.

My psychology teacher once told the class a story about how he was walking down the streets of Philadelphia and was approached by an (apparently) homeless, schizophrenic man who said, “You need to stop the voices! They’re telling me I’m Jewish but I’m NOT Jewish! They keep saying I’m Jewish but I’m not!!”
That was the first thing I thought of when I saw the thread title.

…just thought I’d share.

Ah, the amazing retort - “I’m not a Jew!” is one I have used countless times. Being that I have the most steriotypically orthodox Jewish name in existence (thanks to my unwitting parents - for a judge on how bad it is, think Mordecai Cohen and raise that up a notch or two), and also, I apparently “look” Jewish (I’m a Mexican Catholic), I get it a lot.

Most odd encounter: Twas the fifth grade year, and I was sitting next two girls who, suffice it to say, did not like me. However, being a good-natured young lad, I would still talk to them, and one day, after telling them that my father had found out where we had gotten our Jewish name and uncovered a whole eighth of the family that was Jewish-German, I get this: “Jews are Stupid!”

Well, what can you say to that? I went up to the teacher, who was and is a very nice lady who liked me, and requested to be moved, and some sort of action to be taken. I sat next to them for the next 4 months. Granted, I can understand why. The school was (and still is, to a respect) a VERY WASPy school, and I can well imagine the parents reaction to having their sweet little girls be reprimanded for such a trifle. Teachers have little power nowadays, especially elemntary teachers, so what could she do?

I’m Jewish and I have certainly been subjsct to antiSemitism in my life but ironically not as badly as you have. You may find the book Focus by Arthur Miller interseting.


Huh. I’m Jewish, and I look like a nice Irish-American girl. (I am of Irish descent as well, which probably explains it.) No one ever assumes I am Jewish.

On the other hand, I’ve had a lot of trouble convincing coworkers that I don’t celebrate Christmas. One of my coworkers seemed very genuinely upset that I politely declined her offer of a loan of a Christmas CD. She called me a “grinch” and kept insisting it would “get me in the mood for the season.” And she KNOWS I’m Jewish. Oy vavoi.

Ah, Michigan. One of my students’ dad was genuinely befuddled when I told him I was Jewish and didn’t celebrate christmas. He was trying ever so hard not to offend me and we ended up having the funniest conversation.

him: er… Jewish. What’s that about? God? Jesus?
me: God: Yes. Jesus: heck of a nice guy, not the messiah.
him: not the messiah…?
me: still waitin’.
him: still waiting for the messiah?
me: yep.
him: huh.

I also don’t really “look Jewish” with my red hair and all, although I suppose I do look a bit Polish. The rest of my family all have black hair, and olive complexion. iIonically, people are always thinking my Dad is Argentinian (he does speak very good Spanish), and my brother, when he lived in Tempe, was often asked for directions in Spanish. I guess the menfolk look Hispanic when they get a tan.

I once read a column by Dear Abby in which the young man wrote to say he “looked Jewish” but was not. (He had a “Jewish nose,” quote-unquote, for example. :rolleyes: )
Among the replies from other readers was one mentioning the promise of Abraham; faithful people such as David and Elijah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and so on.
Another mentioned a well-known Jew–Jesus. :slight_smile:
Still another suggested to the man who had originally signed himself “Not Jewish”:

  1. Change your name to something Christian–like “Christiansen.”
  2. Go to the leading plastic surgeon in your area (who will probably be Jewish) and get a nose job.
  3. Go to the leading psychoanalist in your area (who will also probably be Jewish) and explain to him, if you say you have nothing against Jews, why you thought all this change was necessary.
    To tomndebb: Don’t make too much of an issue about the name “Jehovah.” If you wanted to use the original-language form of the names you would have to call yourselves “Dhidhimios” (Greek for “twin”) and “Devrah” (Hebrew for “bee”). Well, we don’t speak Hebrew here today. The name Jehova appeared in a 1215 Catholic treatise called “Pugio Fidei” (“Poinard of the Faith.”)