What does it mean to be Jewish?
There are many stereotypical representations of
the Jewish community through television shows, movies or other media groups.
portrayals are positive while others are not so constructive.
Being Jewish has numerous
unseen facets of which the majority of the non-Jewish population is most likely unaware.
Researching the Jewish community gave me new insight into the ways that the Jewish
community is unique from other communities, struggles that these differences bring, and
how my perception of the Jewish community has changed as a result of this project.
Typical stereotypes came to mind when I thought about the
Jewish community due to various things I have seen or heard
through media, or imagined as a result of the media.
opinion the Jewish community has usually been depicted in a
Wondering whether I was the only one who
perceived these negative stereotypes, I asked others what are
some common labels associated with the Jewish community.
The picture that was drawn as a result of these typecast labels
was not positive.
Some words or phrases others used to
describe Jewish people included: money hungry, wealthy
penny-pinchers, out-of-date, conservative, unshaven or unkempt, yamaka-hat wearers,
racist against others, bible thumpers, hostile middle-easterners, large nosed, and power
Hearing these reports created a negative image and made me feel sympathy for
the Jewish community.
They may have some differences from other groups but different
does not mean bad, as many assumed.
Many of those classifications were exaggerated
and incorrect, again as a result of ignorance.
I admit, some of these negative perceptions
I held myself, but that changed when I began to discover more about their culture and
My assumptions were due to my ignorance.
Assuming the stereotypes I held in the past, I never thought I would meet a Jewish
I thought I would never come in contact with someone from that culture.
discovery that I had met and knew several people that are Jewish came about from this
I learned that my mother’s boss, one of my friends, and a few friends of
mutual friends, were all members of the Jewish community.
In truth, I have most likely
had contact with a lot more Jewish people than I will ever know.
One does not usually
introduce oneself as a member of a particular community unless it is directly relevant to
the circumstances surrounding the meeting.
I was naïve to think otherwise.
Suddenly my perspective changed.
These individuals were nothing out of the
They were regular functioning members of society.
They drove normal cars,
wore regular clothes, had ordinary, happy families and lives. Their differences were much
more subtle or discreet than I had imagined or believed.