The White Jew

The White Jew

This is the age of the White Jew. I have come to resent, if only because of their number, the hordes of outsiders who clamor fox admission to the clan. It is sad but true that this year everyone chooses the chosen people. The American Leopold Bloom pops up again and again these days, queer, compassionate, forgiving, and alone. He is a guest at cocktail parties everywhere but can be seen most clearly through the windows of countless city bedrooms, his (often) young body bent in rigid attitudes of love. He is now called Seymour Glass but, as his admirers imply, his real name is Hamlet and he is a prince.

The term “white Jew” (pronounced hwatt jeeoo) is not unknown in this country; it has been used in certain circles to mean a Jew who lacks the offensive traits of his tribe, a Jew, in other words, who looks and behaves like a “hwatt mayun.” The hero of this piece, the White Jew (pronounced white Jew), is cut from a different bolt of cloth altogether. With apologies to Norman Mailer, I use the phrase because it seems to express conveniently a number of attributes of the would-be lover I shall presently describe.

White Jew, even in the sense meant here, is not an entirely new expression. In recent years I have heard it used, in and around New York City, of the Gentile who, for one reason or another, has become infatuated with the Jews. This usually happens among arty people and intellectuals but lately the fad has spread. It is fashionable now, with Jews and non-Jews alike, to cherish a Semitic stereotype that enables them to live without guilt while turning their backs on social and political realities. Love is all and the Jew is accounted the supreme lover. The “Jew” admired, however, is neither the actual religious Jew nor the specifically Jewish intellectual but the man, Gentile or Jew, who believes in himself as an inspired outsider: a sufferer who is at the same time a lover. The White Jew may be a Christian with a Jewish heart or even a Jewish Christian, but the important thing about him is that he is a victim.


Lima