It’s finally occurred to me why I’m not a multi-millionaire. And no, it’s not because I’m a writer and a teacher, which are two jobs that pay so little that doing both of them together actually makes you get paid less somehow. It’s because my work is never seen by non-Jews. And there are way more non-Jews than Jews out there, I’ve noticed. Okay, I haven’t noticed. I mostly hang out in yeshivas, where the Jews outnumber the Gentiles by about a hundred bochurim to one janitor and a couple of math teachers. But in most of the world, I’ve got to tell you: There are a lot of Gentiles out there. So many that instead of being called “Jews” and “non-Jews”, maybe it should be “Gentiles” and “non-Gentiles”. And the weird thing is that most of them don’t even know they’re Gentiles.
And no, it’s not your fault that my work isn’t seen by more non-Jews. I’m not asking you to pick up a Queens Non-Gentile Link for your non-Jewish neighbors, or even hint to them that they should pick it up themselves via leaving your copy open to my article right next to the light switch. It’s just that I apparently write articles that are mostly geared toward being Jewish. I blame myself, really. And knowing the Gentiles, they probably blame me too.
So this week, since it’s the summer and a lot of our Jewish neighbors are out of town anyway, I might as well write an article for all the non-Jews out there. Maybe some tips for living among us.
(Note to Goyim: No one’s out of town. Please don’t rob anyone.)
- Never walk into a Jewish event and yell, “Okay, who owns the grey minivan?”
- Don’t go to a Jewish grocery store on a Thursday or Friday. Or a Saturday, for that matter.
- And definitely don’t go on the night after Passover.
- If you do go to a kosher grocery store, don’t try to buy meat. You’re going to be very disappointed, not to mention confused by the prices. And if you try buying some just so you can bring it home and see if you can taste the reason for the price difference, you’re going to conclude that we’re paying all that extra money for salt.
- If a Jew ever calls you into his house using mysterious language on a Saturday, there’s nothing sinister about to go down. We can’t do anything sinister on a Saturday anyway.
- If it ever sounds like a Jew is bending over backwards trying not to tell you to do something, that’s what you should do.
- If you’re living amongst Jews, you’re going to have to learn to read between the lines. “I really wish I could turn on my air conditioner,” means, “Please walk into my house and turn it on,” but “I really wish I could accept your casserole,” does not mean you should stick a bite into his mouth.
- If you’re ever out somewhere and you see a bunch of Jewish men facing the same direction in silence, don’t stand with them and try to figure out what they’re looking at. (“I still can’t see it. I’m going to elbow my way to the front.”)
- Fun fact: There are only two Jewish songs – “Hava Nagila,” and the one about the dreidel.
- Just kidding; there are lots of songs. But there are only two dances.
- Jews dance holding hands. We do this because we’ve been to enough weddings where we start dancing and suddenly realized that everyone in our dancing circle has wandered off except the two people whose hands we’re holding, so now we specifically double our grip to lessen the likelihood of this happening.
- Contrary to what you may think, “Shabbat Shalom” is not a fancy way of saying “Shalom.” Yes, we say it to each other when we’re dressed fancy, but it’s kind of like if we would tell you “Happy New Year” every time we passed you on the street. A fancy “Shalom” is “Shalom Aleichem.” Try saying that.
- Note: When a Jew responds with “Aleichem Shalom,” FYI that’s the accepted response. He’s not correcting you.
- Jews love it when Gentiles try to pronounce Jewish words. Especially words with throat-clearing sounds in them. We love it so much that that sound appears twice in our alphabet.
- You can bring joy to almost any Jewish event you’re invited to by managing to wear a yarmulke in the most comical position possible.
- When you’re at a co-worker’s wedding, sitting with all their other non-Jewish associates (“You’re all non-Jews; you probably know each other”) and they start playing the intro before the bride and groom come in, don’t suddenly stand up and yell, “Hey! I know this song!”
- Bagels must be cut horizontally. All the sages agree on this.
- Holiday tip: before complaining about having to cook for your holidays, realize that Jews have 2-to-3-day holidays on a regular basis. Plus, you already know about Saturdays. So instead of complaining, ask us for recipes. One bite of your overnight cholent potato kugel with extra kishke (“And the good news is it’s been cooking since yesterday!”) will convince all your relatives to stop asking you to host the holiday meals. (“Where are you going? I also have fifteen flavors of herring!”)
- Do Gentiles even eat herring?
- Jews don’t love it when you casually mention that your savior was Jewish. It’s not like we knew him. That is not how you play Jewish geography.
- One day a year, we all walk to the synagogue carrying beach chairs. We know you’re just trying to be friendly, but some comments that are not appreciated are, “Fun day planned?” or “Why do you own a beach chair?” or “How long ago did you buy those sneakers?”
- Many Jews refer to your entire school curriculum – which includes everything you do in school over the course of the day – as, quote, “English”. (“But—But this is math. Words aren’t even involved!” “Nope. That’s English.”)
- If you’re ever discussing education with Jewish people, know that Jews have something between Kindergarten and first grade called “Pre-1a.” No one knows why. Or how it got that ridiculously redundant non-name. But it might boil down to the fact that we have two alphabets to teach our 4-year-olds that go in completely different directions, so we throw in an extra year.
- When you’re teaching a class of Jewish students and they tell you that they can’t do something for religious reasons, they’re only telling the truth about 10% of the time. Ironically, they’re not supposed to lie for religious reasons.
- Not everyone with a beard is a rabbi. When you call us “rabbi”, we are immediately hit by a combination of getting a kick out of it and panicking that we’re about to be asked a question for which our personal off-the-cuff answer will represent the feelings of the entire Jewish race.
- If you ever want to play a prank on your Jewish neighbor, shovel the snow off his walk on a Saturday morning before he gets up. Then you can stand back and watch him spend the rest of the day making sure everyone passing by knows he didn’t do it.
- Jews don’t control the world, but we do sometimes get alternate side suspended. Tip: If your Jewish employee ever seems like he’s just making up a holiday so he can get off, try parking on the wrong side of the street that day.
- The expression, “Where there are two Jews, there are three opinions,” should give you an idea of what a typical Jewish marriage looks like.
- Thanks to the Jewish people and the Sabbath, Jews are single-handedly keeping the paper-book industry afloat.
- Having an extended conversation with a Jewish person isn’t always easy, and not just because you might accidentally get hit when he’s using his arms to express himself. For example, many Jews appear to speak English, but then, when they get to the crucial part of a sentence, they will suddenly stick in a word you don’t understand, or trip over themselves trying to substitute a word that you do understand but that doesn’t quite make sense in the sentence.
- Jews have special cereals that they only eat on Saturday.
- When selling cars to Jewish people, know that the only feature Jews really care about is how many car seats you can get across the middle.
- Those black things we wear around our arms when we pray are called tefillin. And we don’t just wear them on airplanes. In English, they’re called “phylacteries”, but I doubt that word helped you. “Oh, phylacteries! Okay. Why didn’t they say so in the first place? Just your typical, run-of-the-mill phylacteries!”
- The word “Jews” is not considered anti-Semitic. Unless you put a “the” in front of it. (“What?! I like the Jews. Some of my best friends are the Jews.”) The word “those” can make it even worse.