Living in New York, passing delis that sold Cel-Ray soda (a.k.a. “Jewish champagne”) and knishes and bumping, literally, into fur hatted Hasids in the subway, I felt self-conscious of being Jewish. Having moved back to California, where every Jew is more than reformed, I’m conscious in a different way. So, what is Jewish? Lenny Bruce gave possibly the best and most thorough answer to that question:
“Dig: I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish. B’nai B’rith is goyish; Hadassah, Jewish.
If you live in New York or any other big city, you are Jewish. It doesn’t even matter even if you’re Cathloic; if you live in New York, you’re Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you’re going to be goyish even if you’re Jewish.
Kool-Aid is goyish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if the Jews invented it. Chocolate is Jewish and fudge is goyish. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime Jell-O is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.
All Drake’s Cakes are goyish. Pumpernickel is Jewish and, as you know, white bread is very goyish. Instant potatoes, goyish. Black cherry soda’s very Jewish, macaroons are very Jewish.
Negroes are all Jews, Italians are all Jews. Irishmen who have rejected their religion are Jews. Mouths are very Jewish. And bosoms. Baton-twirling is very goyish.
Underwear is definitely goyish. Balls are goyish. Titties are Jewish.
Celebrate is a goyish word. Observe is a Jewish word. Mr. and Mrs. Walsh are celebrating Christmas with Major Thomas Moreland, USAF (ret.), while Mr. and Mrs. Bromberg observed Hanukkah with Goldie and Arthur Schindler from Kiamesha, New York.”
Another Jewish thing I was pondering the other day is the word “ungeblusem.” I think it’s a Yiddish term for a physical/metaphysical state of ennui, an especially well-formed onomatopoeia that induces and also relieves itself. I’m pretty sure that “ungeblusem” is not the correct spelling, but I can’t seem to find the word anywhere on this reputable internet system. Maybe it’s not Yiddish but Norwegian or German or some other language that has shaped my core of loan words. Maybe my dad made it up, in which case, congrats Dad on being a fantastic neologist!