Posted by: hatzihatzi | December 10, 2015

On being marginalized

This is pretty funny.


The Hebrew says something like “tag of earlobe that died.” If I may Jew-splain it to you, the first letter of the first two words (remember that Hebrew is read right to left) and the last letter of the last word should be “ch”es but are “t”s. It’s basically just the little foot on the letter that should be there and changes the message from “Happy Hanukkah” to “Tag of Dead Earlobe!”

Istar read some of the comments about this, and someone said she felt marginalized by it. I have to say, I didn’t. Lord and Taylor is making an effort. So they messed up. I mess up too when I try to speak Hebrew, but people still encourage me to try. That’s the only way I’ll learn. So I don’t feel othered or less than by the fact that they got it wrong. The fact that they tried, I think, shows the status of Jews in the US.

An opinion about the Dirty Dancing remake, however, made me feel marginalized. In that piece, the author wrote:

They are very Jewish, and it’s something that plays a part in the movie (note the early bit where the girls at the resort get to try on wigs with straightened ‘non-Jewish’ hair) and in the characters’ behavior.

And I just thought, no, it doesn’t. No, they aren’t. Truth be told, I didn’t realize the family was Jewish until I saw the movie at Hillel’s library under the category “The American Jewish Experience.” The only thing about the family that is Jewish are their noses and last name. We don’t see them using Yiddish (do we?). We don’t see them lighting shabbot candles. We don’t see them keeping kosher or eating Chinese food. The mother doesn’t cover her hair. Baby never dances the hora. Robbie mentions a bagel. I think that’s about it. Is it because pre-marital sex and abortion are ok in Judaism? That isn’t a Jewish trait alone. What makes them “very Jewish”? What did they do that a goy family wouldn’t have done? Is the whole idea of a family retreat a Jewish one? Did I miss that?

That observation, so different from my own, made me feel othered. I thought part of the point of the movie, the importance of the Houseman family being Jewish, was that they were like everyone else. Are only Jewish fathers hypocritical? Are only Jewish young adults idealistic? Do only Jewish girls carry watermelons?

So thank you, Lord and Taylor. The the laugh and the inclusion. And screw you, Forbes, for making me stick out when all we want to do is be a part of the larger culture.


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