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PAGE 4A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 12, 2013 By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News A fewyears back, the following clue appeared in the New York Times crossword puzzle: "Curly ethnic hairstyle, colloquially." The answer? "JEWFRO." The word made Patrick Merrell, the.Times' puzzle blogger at the time, anxious. "JEWFRO! Really? Is that somethingwe can say?" he wrote. Don't wo~y, Mr. Merrell--most Jews that I know have embraced the word (if not the hair- style), and this (straight-haired) Jew approves. I suspect it's th~ use of "Jew" as an adjec- tive--a la Archie Bunker talking about "Jew lawyers"--that makes people antsy. "Jew'~ is 4 By Eyal Solomon NEW YORK (JTA)--I had only known my girlfriend for a few weeks when she invited me to a friend's house for Shabbat dinner on the Upper West Side. As a 44-year-old secular Israeli who had moved recently to New York City after my divorce, I didn't have much experience with American Jews. Her friendswere great: educated, liberal tra- ditional Jews who seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me. While their religious rituals were new to me--I never saw people washing their hands and not speaking before making blessings on the challah--it was the conversation that shocked me. "Are you Sephardic?" one of the guests asked me. Everyone stopped talking. "I have some Sephardi friends,'~ another guest offered. I froze, my fork midair. They weren't really inquiring about my origins my darkskin was a dead giveaway. What they were really asking me was: How come you don't behave Sephardic? We're not in Tel Aviv anymore. Toto. In Israel. when people wanted to know where my family was from. the answer was easy: Both my parents came to Israel in 1951 as part of th.e "Iraqi Exodus," where they quickly assimilated into the Israeli melting pot. I was a first-generation Israeli and proud second- generation "Iraqi" shorthand for urbane. even keeled and good with numbers. But in Israel we hardly ever used the term Sephardic.lumping togetherall Jews fromArab lands~ Moreover, the literal term Sephardim-- i.e. from Spain and Portugal does not apply to Iraqi Jews who, like most Mizrahi Jews from other Arab countries, were never persecuted and exiled during the Spanish Inquisition. The Iraqi experience was different from the Moroc- can, Tunisian, Yemenite, Egyptian, Spanish and Greek ones. Jews of European descent used the term Sephardic to denote anyone who wasn't like them: the non-Ashkenazi. The category may have been helpful for religious Jews, who fol- lowed eitherAshkenazi or Sephardi customs in prayers and Jewish law. but it had no relevance among the secular. Moreover, the discrimination in Israel against the non-Ashkenazi immigrants from the 1950s through the 1970s was a thing of the past. The older generation, like my mother, loved to make distinctions between ethnic groups. "We're Iraqi," she would exclaim proudly, even though her blond hair would have people believe otherwise. "Iraqis are like the Ash- kenazim of thtr Sephardim," she would add, explaining how her people were educated and modern, not like the others implying how backwards other groups were. I'm sure that somewhere out there, a Mo- roccan or Tunisian or Egyptian mother was making the very same boast• Yet I never heard people my own age make these differentiations. We tended to categorize people by their socioeconomic class: Were they educated, artists, upwardly mobile, yuppies or creative types? After that initiation on the Upper West Side, I discovered many American Jews used this terminology. My girlfriend's friends would describe a date as "too Sephardic," which I learned meant pushy, sleazy, aggressive. What they termed Sephardic was what Israelis often termed "Arss," Arabic for "pimp" a deroga- tory term for the type of guy who opens his shirt buttons to expose his chest, sporting a large gold Chai, and has dice hanging from h!s SQuped-up BMW. Over time I discovered that things are dif- ferent in America: There's the "Syrian" com- munity-comprised not just of Syrians but Egyptians, Moroccans, Israelis and anyone who lived in the tight-knit Brooklyn and Deal, N.J., communities where family was paramount and outsiders hardly welcome. The "Persian" community in Great Neck on Long Island, the New York City suburbs (and Los Angeles. where my girlfriend lived before she met me) had similar values. ()ften when someone in America would say Sephardic, they Would be referring to someone from one of those communities, where the women marry young--usually older men who work in cash businesses such as shmattas or electronics andthe men look for atraditional "girl" to be a stay-at-home mom. Little did I know that my girlfriend was just as bad. After we started dating, we both got to wondering how we'd never connected through JDate? We showed each other our profiles and I was appalled that she had unchecked the "Sephardic" box on the Jewish dating website (another American institution perpetuating the divisive stereotype). "I didn't want to date a Persian guy they are too traditional for me." she said. She had left her Orthodox upbringing because she found it too paternalistic for her feminist tastes• "Anyway, I never even saw your profile--you saw mine and rejected me," she said. It was true: I'd discounted her because her profile said she was "traditional" and kept kosher in her house• As a secular Israeli who fought the stranglehold of my country's rabbinical institutions, it was something with which I could not live. "It's not the same." I told her. "I discrimi- nated against you, personally, and you dis- . . . • ,, criminated against a whole race of people. Who is worse: Her for discriminating against Sephardim as a group, or me for discriminat- ing against an individual that doesn't share my religious beliefs? We'll have the rest of our lives to figure it out. We recently married and settled on a semi-kosher household (read: we don't have bacon for breakfast). But I have the last revenge: According to Je@ish law, because she married me, she's Iraqi now. And I don't mean Sephardic. Eyal Solomon is a musician and market- ing director for a New York-based technology company. THE VIEWS EXPRESSED ON THIS PAGE ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE VIEWS OF HERITAGE MANAGEMENT. ISSN0199-0721 CENTRAL FLORIDA'S INDEPENDENT JEWISH VOICE Winner of 41 Press Awards Editor/Publisher Jeffrey Gaeser Editor Emeritus Associate Editor I E W I S H N IR W S Gene Starn Mike Etzkin Assistant Editor Kim Fischer HERITAGE Florida Jewish News { ISN 0199-0721 ) is published weekly for $37.95 per year to Florida ad- Society Editor Bookkeeping dresses ($46.95 for the rest of the U.S.) by HERITAGE Gloria Yousha PauleRe Alfonso Central Florida Jewish News, Inc., 207 O'Brien Road, Suite 101, Fern Park, FL 32730. Periodicals postage Account Executives paid at Fern Park and additional mailing offices. " Barbara do Carmo • Marci Gaeser POSTMASTER: Send address changes and other correspondence to: HERITAGE, P.O. Box 300742, Contributing Columnists Fern Park, FL 32730. Jim Shipley • Ira Sharkansky David Bornstein • Ed Ziegler MAILING ADDRESS -PHONE NUMBER P.O. Box 300742 (407) 834-8787 Production Department Fern Park, FL 32730 FAX (407) 831-0507 David Lehman • David Gaudio email: news@orlandoheritage.com Elaine Schooping • Gil Dombrosky alreadyaloadedword aperfectlyappropriate debate about how to characterize Elie Wi- noun that has, thanks to' our enemies, taken esel's book about Auschwitz. Is it a memoir? on the quality of a slur. Many Jews prefer to A novel? Something else? Wiesel has angrily refer to themselves as "Jewish." Especially for asserted that Night "is not a novel at all," but an older generation, the word "Jew" said a "testimony" of his time in the death camp. outside the family or the synagogue can The distinction matters, since Holocaust induce a wince. Try it: '~Funny, you don't look deniers would like nothing better than to Jewish" is a gentle punch line. "Funny, you "discredit Wiesel and dismiss his first-hand don't look like a Jew" sounds like dialogue account of the Shoa as fiction. from a Holocaust film. I wrote a blog post complaining about the The use of "Jew" as a pejorative even has clue, and linked it to the Times' Wordplay Some unintended consequences.When Jewish blog, where contributor Jim Horne responded groups complained that Google searches for a few days later: the ~/ord "Jew" were bringing up anti-Semitic Do clues and answers in crossword puzzles sites, the company explained that the word really matter? Much of the discussion here at "Jew" is"often used in an anti-Semitic context. Wordplay is because theanswer is yes. I think Jewishorganizationsaremorelikelytousethe it's fair to say they especially matter in New word 'Jewish' when talking about members of York Times puzzles. Sometimes we quibble their faith." about whether the cobbler crust can be on the • Distinctions like these force groups like the bottom but sometimes much more important Anti-Defamation League to police seemingly issues are at stake. innocuous media like' crossword puzzles. The June 17 puzzle included this clue for Last week, the ADL complained when a syn- • 47 Across: "Night novelist." The answer is the dicated crossword puzzle used "Shylock" as Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie a Clue for "JEW." Using the name of Shake- WIESEL. Several readers objected, including speare's notoriously anti-Semitic caricature professor Wiesel himself; who contacted The as a synonym for Jew "demonstrates cultural Times through his Elie Wiesel Foundation ignorance and an extreme lack of sensitivity," for Humanity. Novel implies fiction, and for wrote ADL national director Abe Foxman. someone constantly dealing with Holocaust Tribune Media Services promptly apologized." denial, this is understandably objectionable. Nitpicking? I don't think so. Perhaps, had Is this an error worthy of correction? Per- the clue been "Shylock, for one," they might haps, but the answer is not quite so simple. have gotten away with it. But the one-to-one Here Horne quoted the Wikipedia entry on correspondence between"Shylock"and"Jew" Night, which discusses the difficulty some is nothing but trouble. Were there options? scholars and reviewers have in categorizing How about' Hebrew,' 'Semite, or Israelite' ? . the literary genre of Night novel? Memoir? This isn't the first time that word games "Nonfiction novel"? crossed over into Jewish communal contro- He continues: versy. In 1993.awoman in Virginiacomplained Still, there is accuracy and then there is that the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary avoiding unnecessary conflict. Here's what listed words like KIKE and HEBE, and allowed [Times puzzle editor] Will Shortz had to say: JEW as a verb. The ADL took up her cause. "In retrospect, myfeelingis ..ifMr.Wieselsays Scrabble officials said they weren't endorsing the book is not a novel, then I respect that. I the words, and competitive players, including will do my best never to refer to the book as many Jews. said they would hate to lose such a novel again." perfectly good letter combinations. In the end. Personally I thought Horne's response was there was a compromise: an OSPD for"recre- a little grudging, especially since the book ational and school play" omits 167 offensive has consistently been categorized as "nonfic- terms;aclubandtournamentversiondoesnot, tion" on the Times' own bestseller list. Still, And it's not just the ADL keeping tabs on I'm glad he acknowledged that even when it suchthings. In 2009. I contributed to theworld comes toword games, "sometimes much more of cruciverbalism (look it up) when a New York important issues are at stake." Times crossword puzzle featured a clue read- Andrew Silow-Carroll is editor-in-chief of ing "Night novelist." The answer? "WIESEL." the New Jersey JewishNews. Between columns The puzzle thus entered the fray in a long you can read his writing at the JustASC blog. Letter from Israel Egypt By Ira Sharkansky the new-old regime led by senior military personnel. Chaos in Syria and now in Egypt. ~vith in- Against this optimism is a view that it will stability in Lebanon increasing as HezboUah is be impossible for the army to quell an uprising deeplyinvolvedinSyria.HamasinGazaismost led by the Moslem Brotherhood. which may likely planning its response to the problems have30millionsupportersoutofthecountry's of its patron in Egypt. Jordan's king may be total of more than 80 million• even more worried than usual about threats Poverty rather than religion or ideology to his regime, and who knows what is going may have been the moving force behind the through the minds of the Palestinians in the anti-Morsidemonstrations. However, the army West Bank who are close to their government and its civilian allies will not be able to supply orwaiting for an opportunity to take over their what is lacking in the economy, especially government• with tourism unlikely to rebound any time Is all this good for the Jews? soon, and poverty may spur a continued series In the short run, we don't have to worry of demonstrations with the Islamic element about strong Arab armies joining together assuring violent confrontations between in order to solve their Zionist problem. Even demonstrators and soldiers. Iranians may be spending less energy planning The soldiers come from the people, and will their next action against Israel than worry- not be a reliable force over time when used ing about their own position in a roiling sea against them.Unlike Syria, there are notethnic of Muslim regimes where their political and and religious divides between army units and military investments are insecure• Hezbollah the mass of the population. and Hamas have more than enough missiles The Bedouin of the Sinai are inclined toward to make our lives miserable, but Hezbollah is the Muslim Brotherhood, and will provoke busy in Syria and Hamas is likely to be preoc- wider problems for the military-based regime cupied with Egypt. Moreover, Israel has more byattacks against Israel. Israel cannot respond than enough to make their lives more than against Sinai targets without threatening the miserable should the need arise, peace treaty with Egypt• Relations with that There is a wide range of assessments associ- country have not been ideal, but the lack of ated With the latest hot spot in Egypt. an Egyptian military threat has been at the A return to the strong governments under heart of Israeli strategic thinking for more the control of generals andopposed to Islamist than three decades. extremism, seen from Nasser through Sadat PovertyinEgyptmayproduceamassmarch and to the end of the Mubarak regime, toward the Israeli border by people hungry The army and its secular government (per- for food and work. perhaps also motivated by haps figureheads for generals who are really Islamic desires to destroy the Jewish state. in charge) will maintain the peace treaty with Against this scenario are commentators Israel and the US aid that comes along with it; who scoff at the prospect of an unorganized Israeli commentators--some of them retired masswithoutlogisticalsupportwalkingacross generals--have been saying that while Morsi 100 miles of desert. If such a trek would begin, was more cooperative in practice than in his rhetoric, it will be even easier talking with Egypt on page 15A