Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Greatest Game Ever

Today I'm singing the praises of the game Jew-not-a-Jew (JNAJ).
Not as good as Texas Hold 'Em or Scrabble, but it has its advantages...

Read more below the jump.

First, there are obvious reasons it's more challenging than Chinese-not-Chinese or Black-not-Black.

Second, Jews have lived in all sorts of places since the Babylonian exile around 587 B.C.E. (and subsequent exiles), so we have a huge variety of surnames.
That makes it harder to remember all the Jewish names than to remember, say, all the Korean surnames--where about half the people have one of five popular surnames, or even Scots, where (in 1901, anyway) 15% of the people had one of twenty popular surnames.
Yes, fascinating, I know.
Plus, many traditionally Jewish names (Zimmerman, Schwartz) are only sometimes Jewish.

Some are odd permutations of others it's fun to recognize them (Safire, Sapphire, Safir, Shapiro, Sapperstein).
Others represent particularly Jewish trades (Sapphire, Diamond, Ruby) or have Hebrew roots (Frum, Mikva, Malamud), or are the name of a place Jews lived (Litvak, Tarnipol, Berlin) or otherwise have clues to Jewishness (Cohen, Levi, Jewison, Katz (means "cat" in German, but selected by Jews supposedly as an acronym for "Cohen Tzadik," or "righteous Cohen" (Cohen is the priest tribe from way back), Baron (short for "Ben Aharon," or "son of Aaron")).
Check some neat origins out here.

Third, lots of Jews intentionally changed their names to assimilate or avoid persecution, so spotting them is a particular challenge-- and fun.

Jewhoo has profiles of famous Jews from fields like entertainment and sports, many of whom have changed their names.
It's stopped covering other prominent people, because nutjobs believe every prominent Jew is evidence that ZOG (the Zionist Occupying Government-- it's like CLAW but with bagels) controls the government, media, U.N., etc.
By the way, ZOG High Command-- my check for being part of the tiny ethnic group responsible world domination seems to be held up in the mail or something. What gives?

Fourth, lots of people look or seem a little bit Jewish (and aren't, like Alan Alda), or have some Jewish ancestry but aren't Jewish (like John Kerry or Harrison Ford), or don't look Jewish or have Jewish-sounding names but are Jewish, after all (like Sammy Davis, Jr.).

Recognizing who's Jewish can be a kind of lightweight intellectual challenge.
And, if you're Jewish, you get a small and ill-deserved jolt of pride when you discover some admirable person is Jewish, too.

But with the joy of identifying admirable Jews comes the inevitable shame of identifying jerks.

It's not like being, say, of German ancestry and meeting a jerk named Schmidt.
Who cares? People don't meet some schmuck named Toby Schmidt (or whoever) and think,
"Hey, I don't meet too many Americans with German surnames. But now I have, and they are losers."

But, you know, if you're part of a smaller ethnic group (about 13 million worldwide), these jerks are a real shanda (shame, embarrassment).

Better yet, they are a "shanda fur die goy"-- something embarrassing in front of Gentiles. Please note that the use of the term "goy"--Hebrew for "nation" and Yiddish for "non-Jew"-- is unavoidable in that phrase. Even though it's sometimes used as a sort of slur for Gentiles, it's the only Yiddish word for y'all I've heard.

A funny thing, if you think about it-- to have a sterotype about the other six billion people on the planet.
(Anyway, I hear they're not like you and me, the other six billion; their hearts are on the right side of their chests, or something)

Well, sometimes it happens. I admit that some obnoxious people (often famous) are Jewish.
And, of course, they're going to be offensive in a way that stings.
If people think we're short and oversexed, he'll be Ron Jeremy.
If people believe Jews talk too much and aren't really funny, he'll be Pauly Shore.
If we're all amazing, uh, swimmers, it'll be Mark Spitz. Damn you, Spitz!

And that's how I conceived of the Magic Power I'd like.
The power to un-Jew.

With this power, I could instantly make embarrassing Jewish people instantly gentile.
I've discussed this with friends, and we've decided it would be too much power for a mortal to wield if I got to decide which religion someone would become when I zapped him, so he'll just randomly become Lutheran, or Bahai, or a Baal worshipper or something.

I like to plan whom I'd un-Jew when I get my wand and jet pack.

I can always dream, can't I?

Well, I think that's all I've got to say on this subject.

Play JNAJ, and enjoy it in good health!

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