I am often the token Jew in the Army. Recently in my training I moved on a new section in the lab and the supervisor could hardly hold her excitement in. Apparently she’d been waiting for me so she could ask a bunch of questions about Jewish stuff.
I don’t mind. Usually. I mind when people look for horns on my head or insist on pushing the stereotypes.
Stereotypes are all over the damn place. Most of us use them and don’t even know it.
One of my soldiers asked me today – his cheeks flushed red, eyes downcast – “Sergeant, I um . . . I have a question for you. But I ah – um – I don’t want to be offensive.” I like this soldier. He is goofy and lacks common sense but he has a good heart. I nodded.
“Well, it’s about what you and the supervisor lady were talking about the other day.” I already knew but again I nodded. “Why uh – well – the thing I always hear about Jews is money, that they’re good with it.” He paused and drew a deep breath. “Where’s that come from?”
I gave him a quick history lesson about Jews being banned from certain occupations and forced into money lending. He nodded, thanked me and that was it.
Stereotypes make me uncomfortable.
Jewish greed, big hooked noses, nagging mothers, emasculated “nice jewish boys”, high maintenance princess women, and being financially deceitful are just a few of the common stereotypes. Much of Yiddish humor is based around self depreciation of Jewish culture.
“Oh, I’m Jewish. It’s okay.”
Um . . . no. It’s not. Not to me.
I know. I’m a stick in the mud. Maybe the reason is more about beating others to it. If we Jews laugh, others will leave us alone? I don’t agree.
Yes. Stereotypes came from somewhere but let’s leave them there. Let’s move forward.