I’m accustomed to being around Jews. I grew up in NYC, Jew-central, and work in an industry that’s practically run by Jews, entertainment. So, when I chose to vacation with an Australian owned travel company, I knew being an American and a Jew would put me in the minority. My father gave me some advice before the trip, ‘don’t let them know you are a Jew’, he spoke as if we were living through the pogroms of Russia in the 19th century. Though a tad extreme, I didn’t particularly feel the need to announce my religion over the loudspeaker. When on day two of the trip, I heard a wise crack about Jews, I wasn’t quite sure how to react.
Over a microphone, each person had to answer ice-breaker questions such as “what you would do with an unlimited amount of money.” The trip leader then shared an amusing answer from a previous participant, ‘invest in making more money’. I heard one of the Australians say to his mate, ” I bet that person was American, oh wait, I bet he was Jewish!!” Pause for laughs, and none… from me. I could have just ignored the wise crack, it was said relatively quietly and only received a modicum of a reaction from his buddy. But as a sheltered Jewish New Yorker where yids pretty much run the streets, I was unaccustomed to such humor–and from such a hot guy!! Why are the hot ones always the assholes, and in this case the bigoted assholes?
I am all for making jokes and I’m fine with self deprecating Jew jokes a la Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, but a non-Jew does not have these same comedic rights. Call it the benefit of thousands of years of persecution. This double standard also holds true with black people, with a handful of exceptions, Caucasians can’t make a black person joke, whereas a black is allowed. Chris Rock is a millionaire thanks to countless jokes ripping on his black brethren.
I should note, that I didn’t care about the American element of the wisecrack. It’s true; America is a very capitalistic society. After visiting eight European countries, seven of which for every restroom stop, I had to bring my own toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I say G-D bless the USA! We are a country that believes in life, liberty, over-sized food portions, and soap in every bathroom. Sure, some Chinese restaurants may add a little water to their liquid soap, but at the end of the meal there is still something to wash your hands with!
As mentioned in a prior blog post, Amsterdam was my favorite city and visiting the Anne Frank museum was one of the highlights. There was a quotation from Anne that really resonated with me:
One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews! We can never be just Dutch, or just English, or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. But then, we’ll want to be.
April 11, 1944.
Like Anne intuited, this is exactly how I feel. No matter where I am, in America or on a trip to Europe with a bunch of Australian crocodile avengers, I am always aware of my Judaism and proud to be a Jew. And so, when the hot and kinda stupid Aussie made his joke, I didn’t feel the need to give him a tirade about the Jewish people, I had nothing to prove. I also didn’t want it to go unnoticed. So, I did something that I hope would make Anne proud. I told him that my parents and younger sister died in the Holocaust, I grew up as an orphan and as a consequence have no capacity to love. I have never kissed a boy, would he do me the honor? The kiss would be an act of repentance for his comment. Now, most people would recognize the ridiculousness of what I said, but as mentioned, he wasn’t the brightest of the bunch and I wasn’t questioned. He was pretty much speechless.
Needless to say, we never made out during the trip, but on the bright side he didn’t make any more dumb jokes. Correction, he didn’t make any dumb jokes about Jews; as for dumb jokes, they were told in abundance.