Now goy girls want Jewish men

By Hadley Freeman, February 26, 2009
Follow The JC on Twitter

So I was going to write about how totally hilarious it is that The Reader has proven that Hollywood has become so blinded by the theory that portraying the Holocaust on film is A Good Thing that a movie can somehow argue that antisemitism is analogous with illiteracy and is therefore similarly redeemable.

But then I thought, why depress yourself? So instead, I’m going to write about how everyone wants to be Jewish.

The rise of the Jewish male has been one of the more astonishing effects of cinema, even more astonishing than the recent depiction of the Nazi who didn’t mean it — she just couldn’t read.

Woody Allen, of course, is the godfather of this movement, if there was such a thing as a Jewish godfather. He long ago perfected the knack of depicting the archetypal Jewish nebbish with all accompanying cliched flaws (whiny voice, hypochondria, a general fussiness around food) and then straight-facedly making him object of untrammeled desire by non-Jewish lovelies. That he managed to carry this trick over into his offscreen life says a great deal for the power of the cinema.

Judd Apatow has skilfully picked up that baton and, though his alter-ego Seth Rogen, has re-affirmed the idea that a fat Jewish schlub is every blond Californian girl’s dream, thanks to movies such as Knocked Up, while the character of Seth on American television drama The OC has brought the idea of the attractive Jewish nerd to a whole new generation.

One could argue that the total lack of equivalent female Jewish characters suggests that Jewish women directors and writers don’t feel quite the same need as their male counterparts to insist that they were really attractive as teenagers, but let’s not be snide.

But leaving aside gender quibbles, it wasn’t until I moved to this country from New York that I realised that the idea of Judaism being attractive had been swallowed so wholesale by the public.

This hadn’t been so apparent in New York because New York is about 95 per cent Jewish (roughly), so the religion is not quite so exotic there.

In London, I can reel off dozens of names of nice, smart, goy ladies who have all said to me at separate times how much they envy me for being Jewish and how they all want to go out with a Jewish boy.

There are reams of websites devoted to this topic. One of my favourite blogs ever was headed with the query, “Is it racist I think Jews are cool?” (at chalicechick.blogspot.com) and last year saw the publication of Cool Jew, a guide on how to be just as the title suggests.

Things have now reached such a peak that the Jews don’t even have to be cool to have an appeal; they just have to be Jewish.

Hence the rise of the website oldjewstellingjokes.com, which is just what it says it is. I sent it to my goyish wannabe Jew friends and the first response, which arrived a mere ten seconds later, read simply “heaven”. Woody Allen, you did good.

Last updated: 12:07pm, February 26 2009