Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Belated Racist Passover (Pessach)

On Monday, my dear friend Guy celebrated Passover with me and other close personal friends of his. This is a yearly thing for him. Not the Passover part, but that he makes it an enjoyable ritual for his guests, half of whom, like me, are not Jewish. As I've probably mentioned, Guy is a very funny guy, and a good writer. Here is the intro he wrote to his Seder:

Welcome to my Seder, part of an ongoing series of dinner and cocktail parties popularly thought of as a major world religion. Tonight we will retrace the historic steps which led the Jewish people to inspire several Charleton Heston films. By the end of the evening, I hope we all will have learned more about the experience which defines Judaism, and one of you, and I'm not saying who, but one of you will have gained the ability to smell gold. But first, tedious recitation!

Here's another excerpt which preceded the ceremonial First Cup of Wine.

Four times, in the course of this Seder, we partake of the wine, symbol of joy and thanksgiving. We drink to forget. We drink because liquor is fun. We drink because daddy drank. The four cups represent the four-fold promise which Adonai our God made to the Israelites in Mitzrayim. With each cup we recall one of the promises.

Okay, so the Seder continued in this fun vein for most of the evening. Then came time to search for the Afikomen, which is Greek for dessert. "Dessert", it turns out, is really just some matzah wrapped in cloth. Anyway, Guy had hidden the Afikomen somewhere outside, as is tradition, and all the guests competed against one another to find it first--kind of like an Easter egg hunt but instead of chocolate, brightly-colored eggs or plastic eggs filled with delicious treats, one is rewarded with dry, flavorless bread. It's practically the same thing.

So our friend Louis, a comic visiting from San Francisco, found it. Then Guy offered to write a check for $7.50 to buy the Afikomen from him. This seemed strange to me because Guy was the one who hid it in the first place. It was his Afikoman to begin with. Louis counter-offered with $10. And the two went back and forth until $9.99 was the agreed-upon price. Guy then explained to us gentiles that the purpose of haggling over a flavorless cracker is to teach how to bargain, so as not to get taken advantage of by gentiles. That's what he said, at least. I don't know if the custom is anti-gentile per se. After the explanation, another comic, a local one, said, "Oh, they're literally trying to Jew each other down." Get it?

Naturally, I was appalled. That phrase is unacceptable, offensive and rude. I remember thinking, "I can't think of one occasion where that phrase could be considered acceptable." And then, right after I had that thought, I did indeed come up with a scenario wherein it might be acceptable to use the word "Jew" not as a noun but as a verb. In other words, I think there might be a positive way to say, "Jew someone down", without it being wildly offensive.

For example, if a person were on the ledge of a tall building, threatening to jump to his death, that might be the perfect time to "Jew him down".

How would it work? If he himself were Jewish, you'd get his mom to the site. If he weren't, you'd need to find a Jewish mother, any Jewish mother. If desperate, an Italian mom might work as well. The idea would be to guilt the man into saving himself.

"What? You're gonna jump? But I just made all this food. Have a latke at least. You'll get off the ledge, you'll come home, you'll eat. Don't jump on any empty stomach. You want I should throw this food away? My HEART. Oh, my heart. See what you're doing to me? I'm palpitating. My heart is palpitating. Jump! Go ahead. Abandon me. Officer? Would you please shoot me before my son abandons me? I'd do it myself but my sciatica is acting up. Please, officer, shoot me..."

Let me just say that I ran this post by my friend Guy, who's Jewish, as I mentioned before. He said it was okay to use. He approved it. I was afraid that this post might come to haunt me at some point later in life. I'd see headlines blaring, "Laura Swisher has Secret Anti-Semitic Past," and everyone in Hollywood would refuse to work with me.

For the record, I'm not anti-Semitic. I'm pro-Semitic. In highschool, I wrote the cheer, "We like Semites, yes we do. We like Semites, how 'bout you? Yaaaaaaaayyyy Semites!" I wrote that. It was our racist administration that forbade me from using that cheer at cross country meets. And my coach told me I should just concentrate on running anyway.

Right. Okay. I think I've said enough today.


Gomp Diggaty said...

I knew this one Jewish guy who was well he was also the smelly guy of the group. and very often in public she would say pretty loudly that he was a "dirty jew"
I think he liked to make every one uncomfortable
and I thought every one being uncomfortable was histarical.
we also used to chase his with ham sandwhiches. it was fun for every one :)

Manny F said...

I have a cousin that moved back in with his mother. Which meant essentially at the time that he was 26 going by mommy's rules. Anyways, I have a cookout celebrating my final days in that state before I moved to NC. Attendants aside from family were mostly jewish. At some piont I turn to my cousin Antonio and jokingly say, "hows living with your mom?" (Mind you he doesnt know the people are Jewish). He replies back with, "my god, its like a F***ing concentration camp". In front of about 5 people (all Jewish).

Guy said...

I resent this blog implying i only jewed louis down one cent. Louis's initial demand was Chai, or 18 dollars. I WON, baruch hashem.

Judy said...

Your blog always puts a smile on my face! Thank you!

RedLobo said...

Your blog, as always, is very funny and 100% Kosher. Would you be offended if you Jewed on your friend Louis and gave his last name?

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