The Jewish Representation Problem

We don’t all say “oy gevalt!”

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A Little Backstory

The first time I saw a Jew on television was an animated monkey on Arthur. Her name was Francine Frensky, and an entire episode was dedicated to her cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, called “Francine’s Split Decision.”

It’s Either One Extreme or the Other

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If a producer wants to put a Jew into something, it’s either a “Jerry” or a “Yankel.”

One participant said this: “it’s so rare to see religious Jews from liberal movements, or people who are only somewhat observant. It’s even rarer to see orthodox religious jews who are 3-dimensional characters and don’t end up leaving Judaism.”

Zero Commitment to the Jewish Identity

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Chanukah is Not as Big as You Think

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The Lack of Research

One participant mentioned an ongoing problem with the lack of research done for Jews: “There is a Canadian mystery show named Murdoch Mysteries which takes place in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. There was an opening scene of Jews in the synagogue on a Saturday, and they were wearing tefillin (phylacteries, which are only worn on weekdays). Also, one person was reciting “Hebrew” in some Kabbalistic dialect.

Too Much Hava Nagila

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Old Stereotypes

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Some “New Jew” Ideas

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  • Sick of the Ultra-Orthodox or Unaffiliated varieties? Here are a few other types of religious Jews: Traditional, Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Conservadox, Yeshivish, Convert, or Chasidish (this is Ultra-Orthodox but of a certain sect). Each one has its own set of values and ideas, so please research each of them before putting them down to paper.
  • Make them multi-dimensional. Aside from ethnicity and religious affiliation, now there’s one more element. You have to make the Jewish character have more problems than just about religion. Make them have real-world problems that don’t make Judaism a burden or an exaggerated element of their personality.

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