Did you just call me a Jew or a “Jew”?

31 Jan

One of the problems I’ve been having in infiltrating adapting into Jewish culture is the word Jew.

I’m a bit of a retrosexual, and have never been much for political correctness, but I acknowledge that some words for some people are off limits. Obviously racial epithets are out of bounds, but a word that seems to walk the line for some is the word Jew.

I’ve never had an issue with the word personally, but then I’m not Jewish (not yet, anyway). And I see it used all the time on Jewish websites. And yet, there’s this fear among a lot of people that the word “Jew” is so offensive, you’re more likely to get this reaction:



…Now, I don’t mean to offend.

I just want to know the rules.

Is it like the N word where you can say it to each other, but others can’t say it to you? Or is it really how you say it? Some haters spit the word out of their mouth and it’s just tinged with antisemitism. Obviously, they suck. But then they could say the word “toast” and it would be offensive, because they’re offensive schmucks.

Is it 100% about context, or are there certain denominations where it’s acceptable and some where it’s not? Or is it just one of those things that most Jewish people don’t care about, but some do, depending on their personal experience, and I shouldn’t sweat it?

I suspect Jews don’t take offense at being called  a Jew as long as it’s said nicely. The only ones I’ve ever seen horrified by it are horrified by a lot of things and words, and that makes me think they view the world as a horrible place with horrible people in it.

I probably shouldn’t worry about it.


2 Responses to “Did you just call me a Jew or a “Jew”?”

  1. rachel January 31, 2011 at 7:16 pm #

    Yup – don’t worry about it. The Jews I know call themselves Jews, describe themselves as Jewish etc etc. Of course, if someone uses the word as an insult, or puts an unpleasant adjective before it, then the context isn’t going to be positive, no matter which way you look at it!

  2. galitbreen February 4, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Matthew, this was an excellent post (and OMG that picture and caption is priceless!). I think you hit the nail on the head: like most things it’s all about context and intention. So if you’re saying it nicely, you go right ahead, brother!

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