Reclaiming ‘Jew’

“ ‘Jew’ is a funny word,” the comedian Louis C. K. once said, “because ‘Jew’ is the only word that is the polite thing to call a group of people and the slur for the same group.”

.. As far as Trump speeches go, it was pretty decent, a short bit of hortatory boilerplate with Trumpian flourishes, like calling the Exodus the story of “an incredible people.

.. In his remarks, it was “Christians” who celebrated Holy Week and the resurrection of Christ — but it was “Jewish families” who celebrated Passover and “the Jewish people”

.. I had written that Americans had, in effect, “elected a Jew as vice president,” but the editor — a non-Jew — made me change the wording to “a Jewish vice president.” He knew that to write “a Jew,” even in a positive article by a Jewish reporter, would strike some as offensive.

We Jews, too, recoil from calling ourselves Jews.

.. In my experience as an editor at a publication focusing on Jewish news and culture, and hosting its podcast about Jewish life, I have noticed how many Jewish writers — me included — avoid calling anyone a “Jew.” I frequently edit articles that mention “Jewish politicians” or “Jewish artists” but not “Jews.”

.. we Jews have been conditioned to think of a “Jew” as something bad.

.. To be “a real Christian” is a compliment, but to be “a real Jew” is considered an insult

.. anti-Semites love to talk about “Jews” and “the Jews.”

.. Whether it’s the stain of having murdered Jesus or an inborn capacity for greed or deception, the vices perceived by the anti-Semite belong to “the Jew,” not someone who happens to be Jewish. Anti-Semites have made “Jew” a term of opprobrium, and the rest of us have acquiesced.

.. Many of us don’t think of Jew-ness as central to our identity.

.. “I’m German” sounds a bit milder than “I’m a German.” The former is purely descriptive, the latter a bit proud.

.. our preferred term for ourselves was “Israelite” or “Hebrew.”