Virtual Talmud

How many Jewish mothers does it take to change the Jewish mother stereotype?

I don’t know about you, but the Jewish mothers I knew–my mother and both my grandmothers–were loving individuals who gave unstintingly of themselves to their children in a way that was guilt-free and empowering. Yes, Jewish mothers are usually pretty clear they want their children to do well in school (perhaps another contributor to the Jewish intelligence quotient). They want their children to succeed financially so they will not to have to worry about having enough money to put food on the table and a roof over their heads (something that we, who did not live through European famines or the Depression, find hard to fully appreciate).

I am not a fan of any stereotypical humor: such humor made at the expense of others is equally offensive whether the focus of the joke is a Jewish mother or someone of Polish, Irish, Chinese, or (you get the picture) extraction. Much of the talk radio debate about the firing of Don Imus over the sexist and racist remarks he made about the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team focused on whether the only ones who can use derogatory humor about a group of people is a member of that particular group. But stereotyping is never OK. Jewish mother jokes are a sad and sexist way to respond to the women who gave us birth and would have done almost anything it took to help us succeed in life.

–Posted by Rabbi Susan Grossman

Read the Full Debate: Is Jewish Mother Humor Harmful or Harmless?

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