When Google Glass was launched in 2012, everyone checked out the prototype interactive computer headset, which is attached to a pair of spectacles, said “how clever” and returned to their iPads.
Well, everyone apart from the Jews, it seems. In a recent JC, we discovered that the first Jewish app for Google Glass has been developed in the US. It tells you, via your Google Glasses, when Shabbat is arriving, information on local kosher restaurants, and can even translate Hebrew passages for you.
There is something almost comic about the enthusiasm with which Jewish app developers have seized on the technology. Just when contact lenses and laser surgery were beginning to dent the stereotype of the bespectacled Jew, he is back — and this time entwined with another stereotype — the nerdy Jew.
It does not take much imagination to visualise (without the help of Google Glass) middle-aged male Jews wandering about with their techno-specs, peering myopically into shop windows to check out comparative prices on kosher chickens..
While the new technology may ultimately be mind-blowing, I strongly suspect that it will never be cool. With the exception of Ray Ban shades, glasses never have been. This was a problem for those of us who were diagnosed with short-sightedness at a young age. By the time I was seven my teacher had spotted that in order to read what she had written on the blackboard I was having to get so near I practically had chalk on the end of my nose.
I was the first child in my class to need specs. It was a crushing blow, particularly as the the glasses in question were circular NHS frames. Seeing as my name is Round, you don’t need to be a genius to work out the hilarious quips soon being made by my “friends”.
Fortunately, soon after, some of the other smaller, weedier Jews also began to wear glasses. We were a living cliché. While the non-Jewish kids had the vision of hawks, we Jews were bumping into each other because we couldn’t see properly. Perhaps that’s the reason why we’ve been wandering for thousands of years — we can’t see the street signs.
Back in the 70s my myopia also exacerbated that other stereotype – the unathletic Jew. Although I loved football, I either had to remove my glasses before games, which meant everything around me was a blur, or I could wear my glasses, removing them as I leapt to head the ball, then putting them back on to see where it had gone. You will not be surprised to learn that I never made the school team.
When, later in life, I had the option to swap the specs for lenses, I did so, and I have never looked back (so to speak). When all the other Jews are happily negotiating the streets of north-west London with satnav embedded into their specs, if you see me, perhaps you could point me in the right direction.