Like saying "A Jew holiday" or "Jew buns", "Jew hair", "Jew hat", "Jew-jitsu"

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    I don't think this is on topic for this site.
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:15
  • Highly related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/22506/…
    – Double AA
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:19
  • @double aa if he's asking us to define racism, I agree. More likely he's asking if it's offensive, which would seem to be either too subjective, or if generalized would probably be a dupe of that question.
    – Seth J
    Jun 20, 2013 at 11:57

3 Answers 3


"Jewish holiday" is probably better than "Jew holiday." (It may be different in the UK, but in the US we say "a female doctor" not "a woman doctor.")

Unfortunately, the word "Jew" has been used in a negative way by some in the past. (Unfortunately, there are even dictionaries that list one usage of "Jew" as a verb to mean "to cheat." Rabbi Shimon Schwab said we need to change that reputation until it's listed as "Jew (v.). To be scrupulously honest." But I digress.)

The American Heritage Dictionary discusses this; some on their usage panel even preferred avoiding "Jew" as a noun, e.g. "there are two Jewish persons on the council" rather than "there are two Jews on the council" (or something like that).

  • -just saw this - Rabbi Schwab is absolutely right! I'm a Jew, and I used to do a lot of work for my cousins in black w/peyos and fringes and scrupulous holiday observance. But no more - WITHOUT exception, I've had to stop working for them. Before I do a job, once I get to the site, I always quoted them a price range, because there's no way to tell difficulty in my field until the work is in progress, and then did the job. Then I tried to get paid, and that's when the fun began. I'd give them a price, and they'd refuse to pay it and insult me with what they were willing to pay...
    – Gary
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:01
  • ...now my job is a dirty, greasy, nasty one, and my prices are among the best in the area. But they'd fight me $10 at a time-I learned to start higher, and work my way to my actual wanted price, but then there we were for 15 minutes, going $10 at a time...when most of my other customers say things like "holy @#$%!!, the last guy charged me twice as much!" I told our cousins "when someone rents an apartment from you and agrees to $800/month, how do you like it when they say it's only worth $600/month, that's all I'm giving you?" I got tired of fighting, and just stopped servicing them.
    – Gary
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:11
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    But my point is --- these black hat cousins of mine are an EMBARASSMENT--this is how they treat a fellow Jew in business, and everybody else that either does work or rents from them - and they own a LOT of buildings in the area-gets treated the same way or worse. People have stared at me in amazement when I tell them I'm Jewish, too. I'm not just talking one or two owners - this has been my experience with EVERY one of them. It's easy to see why people use terms like "Jew down the price" when they experience it whenever they come in contact with them! I wish these guys listened to R Schwab!
    – Gary
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:19
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    Originally I was hoping for the best - after all, they're supposed to be the 10 percent righteous holding up the world...at least when compared to my observance-and they treat EVERYONE like dirt. Then they wonder why their superintendents run off back to their native countries with the rent and renters leave at night after destroying their apartments. They work their supers like dogs, and if they just looked them in the eyes and said "Thank you!" once in a while, or showed appreciation SOMEHOW they wouldn't have such problems. I find myself by example acting as an ambassador for Jews..ME!
    – Gary
    Nov 1, 2016 at 22:35

I suppose that the examples are meant as jokes.

And in jokes it depends who and how speaks the things out. And it also depends who is/are the listerner(s). I heard from a Rov, that if joking person upsets one of the listeners he makes himself liable, even if he didn't meant to upset anyone.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov zz"l advises, that if person wants to cheer up himself or other with a joke, he should try that -

  1. the joke isn't rude.
  2. the joke isn't upsetting for other people
  3. he shouldn't make it in order to show off.
  • The last one was a joke. Being serious with the others. Jun 20, 2013 at 11:43

You wouldn't say "a black holiday", "black dreadlocks","black hat" (or well, you might on this one!), et cetera. Would I call it racist? Only if you used in a negative, non-jovial manner. Context and subject are also very important. There is a difference between saying to someone "I find religion fascinating and I've always wondered what those Jewish hats you wear are for and what they are called?" versus "Yo, where can I get a Jew hat?". Again, just use your best judgement. Most Jews love talking about our religion, so as long as you're respectful and honest, I don't think there will be a problem

So, my answer is, just use common sense and be sensitive.

  • You made an important distinction in your examples: "Jewish" versus "Jew". I don't think anybody finds "Jewish holiday" offensive, but "Jew holiday" sounds kind of dismissive (or worse, depending on context). Jun 20, 2013 at 13:08

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