Main Ambiguouslyjewish Discussion

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12:28:36 PM Nov 3rd 2014
Cut these: "Batman. His maternal grandfather is Jewish, which is why his mother has a Jewish last name, Kane. Because her mother wasn't Jewish, however, she would not have been considered Jewish. The name is probably a Shout-Out to Bob Kane, co-creator of Batman, who was Jewish. Current Batwoman and distant-relative Kate Kane, however, actually is Jewish." "Batman's enemy The Penguin started out vaguely Jewish-y and has only gotten more and more so over the course of several decades and across multiple media. Aside from the obvious clues, long nose, short stature, and pot belly (all stereotypical Jewish traits in old cartoons); and his fondness for stealing priceless works of art, he also had an archetypal Jewish Mother who made him carry around an umbrella at all times to shield himself from the sun, causing him to be bullied at school and sending him inexorably down the road to villainy. More Jewish traits were suggested in the 1992 film Batman Returns, with the Penguin's parents played by Paul Reubens and Diane Salinger (both actors with Jewish ancestry, although their characters have a tree at Christmas and are buried in a Christian cemetery, but they could have converted) and the Penguin himself portrayed by Danny De Vito with pale makeup, an even longer nose, and long, wavy dark hair reminiscent of that seen on Hasidic Jews, plus a costume that makes him look a lot like Fagin (the Jewish gang leader from Oliver Twist) and a fondness for eating herrings. Soon afterward, the portrayal of the Penguin on Batman: The Animated Series included the name, long nose, shortness, pot belly, umbrella, long dark hair, and love of eating fish and added to that a suggestion in one episode ("Birds of a Feather") that the Penguin aspires to join high society but is viewed with contempt by all, even by the rich young WASP woman who dates him, and certainly by her Upper-Class Twit friend, who tells her that Oswald is "not our kind." (Of course, since in the animated series the Penguin has flippers instead of hands and literally eats his fish like an aquatic mammal, this could just be Fantastic Racism.)" Having a maternal grandfather with a Jewish name is not enough to qualify for this trope. And the Penguin has the aforementioned traits because he's obviously based on penguins, not steretypical Jewish people.
08:10:58 AM Oct 17th 2013
Changed this example:
  • Egon Spengler and Janine Melnitz of Ghostbusters have very Jewish-sounding names, but their religions have never been mentioned. Harold Ramis, a Jew, jokes about his hair in the film being a "Jewfro." Ironically, Oswald Spengler, the philosopher who inspired Egon's surname, was openly anti-Semitic.

Oswald Spengler was not an antisemite, and I have proof for anyone interested. I'd really like to know how this bit of desinformation got in the wiki.
10:53:15 PM Jul 6th 2013
Would discussing whether professional wrestlers might be Jewish count as part of the "No Real Life Examples Please" prohibition, or could that be included under a "Pro Wrestling" folder?
11:14:15 AM Aug 13th 2013
I think I've seen pro-wrestling folders before, so go for it.
09:15:35 AM Jan 29th 2012
Should Artie Ziff from The Simpsons be added (he has the Jewfro and fulfils the "fragile nerd" stereotype), or has he been confirmed as Jewish?
11:44:51 PM Sep 26th 2011
Cut this:
* According to the NY Magazine, Barack Obama. See also this.
Because he is not. This was nothing but an effort by shills for a politician to shore up support among a wavering constituency. Regardless of what one thinks about Obama's stance on the US-Israel alliance or the Arab-Israeli conflict more generally, he is even slightly Ambiguously Jewish.
02:24:25 AM Sep 27th 2011
Restored, because your personal political opinions, not to mention your opinion of the man himself, are not a reasonable basis for cutting an example. Keep your personal politics peanut butter out of the wiki's chocolate, thanks.
06:20:19 AM Sep 27th 2011
edited by Jordan
Reading the two articles, I wouldn't say he would count. I expected it would be something about his first name or him being a nerdy and intellectual, but it's just articles praising his stance on Israel.

Calling him the "first Jewish president" is a take-off on people who called Bill Clinton the "first black president" and in both cases refers more to their perceived advocacy for that constituency than personal habits or traits, which is what this trope is about (no one calls Clinton Ambiguously African-American).
06:56:00 AM Sep 27th 2011
Much better argument
07:23:14 AM May 17th 2011
I thought I'd respond to this here so as to avoid natter:
*Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds is an interesting case: he really doesn't fit any Jewish stereotypes, but something has motivated him to organize and lead an entirely Jewish commando unit behind enemy lines during World War Two. Has he just concluded that Jewish soldiers would be intensely motivated by hatred for Nazism?
**Hey there are Jews in the South too. And an attempted lynching by the Klan would explain his neck scar.
It's certainly true that there are Jews in the South. There may even have been some living in Manderville, TN up in the Smoky Mountains, working as moonshiners. And they could easily have had rather non-Jewish sounding names like Aldo Raine. None of these things would have been very likely, however. And it should probably be noted that all the other Jewish characters in the film, so far as I know, were played by Jewish actors; Brad Pitt, so far as I know, is not Jewish. But all that's what makes it ambiguous.
10:49:43 PM Jan 21st 2012
Likewise, cutting this:
** You didn't have to be a Jew to be really, really anti-Nazi. Indeed, no American outside of the German-American Bund organization could have been said to be pro-Nazi.
Because, first, it's natter, and, second, the example already lists plenty of reasons to think that Raine is not Jewish. It's true that almost all Americans were anti-Nazi (certainly by that time), but it is still unusual that Raine has decided to organize and lead an all-Jewish commando unit to conduct partisan attacks behind enemy lines.
02:43:05 PM Mar 1st 2011
edited by Barano
About the anime examples: Japan is an entirely different culture that has an entirely different history with Judaist culture, traditions, etc. 99% of the time the creators choose characters' names based on their coolness factor and don't think about what further implications they might have in a culture that is not their own. Bernie Wiseman is not Ambiguously Jewish just because of his name. Does the character exhibit any stereotypically Jewish traits, or any actual hints as to him being Jewish? No? then he's not this trope.

10:05:15 AM Mar 5th 2011
I agree with cutting a lot of those, although I think Spike from Cowboy Bebop still counts, especially because a site, "Jew or Not A Jew" actually debates his background (although they ultimately conclude that he's unfortunately not Jewish). He has the Jewfro, he uses an Israeli pistol, and his English voice actor is Jewish (and the show is better known/more popular in its English dub than in Japanese).

Tl ; dr- Most of the Gundam examples are just characters who had random Germanic names as per Rule of Cool, but since people actually have debated Spike's background, he should qualify.
12:33:47 PM Mar 5th 2011
But Word of God stated that he's not Jewish, and he was named "Spike Spiegel" because the name sounded cool. Word of God also stated that one of Spike's character models was Matsuda Yuusaku, hence his hair... it's not and was never meant to be a Jewfro. And as for which version is more well-known or popular, I think your claim is rather Anglocentric. (Besides, there's a lot more chance of Spike being of oriental origins, what with his background, than Jewish...)

I think Spike's Jewishness is debated mostly because people draw conclusions that the creators never intended. We could put him back as a character that many people regard as Jewish even though he's not (by Word of God), but he's not any more Ambiguously Jewish as the Gundam characters.
03:39:29 PM Mar 8th 2011
My response to the above is Death of the Author.
04:07:10 PM Mar 8th 2011
Just saw this. Really, Death of the Author potentially applies to all of these examples. In some cases, the creator is Jewish, which supports it, but author intent isn't necessary at all.

I recently added an example, Black Michael of The Prisoner of Zenda in which there's quite a lot of reasons to think this wasn't the author's intent, but it doesn't change the fact people have interpreted the character as Jewish. The Japanese examples are no different.
03:03:29 PM Oct 12th 2010
Cut this:

* Barbara Brownstein in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody often acts stereotypically Jewish (including Stock Yiddish) and has a Jewish-sounding last name ... but the actress playing her is Asian American.
** Barbara is canonically Jewish. She references her Bat Mitzvah lessons in one episode, and in another re-gifts Cody with a protractor that she says she was given for Hanukkah. Presumably, she's the child of a mixed marriage (Jewish-Japanese) or, more likely, since her last name is Brownstein (a fairly Ashkenazi-sounding name) and Judaism is passed through the maternal line, her mother probably comes from the 0.0008% of Japan's population that is Jewish.
** Her mother could also be a convert. Her family could also be Reform, as Reform Judaism allows individuals to trace their religion through either parent as long as the child is a practicing Jew.
** Or, y'know, she could just be adopted.
** No, there's an episode where her grandmother comes to visit from Japan.

Come on, people. Once the example doesn't fit the trope (in this case, once the character's Jewishness goes from ambiguous to established), the example no longer belongs. You don't need to argue about the hows and whys of it!
11:33:37 PM Oct 2nd 2010
Cut this:
*** This makes an early episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "The Laughing Fish," Hilarious in Hindsight, since it's revealed there that Harley really hates (and in fact cannot digest) fish!
Because it does no such thing. Since when do Jews not like fish? Jews eat fish all the time. It's true that not all varieties of fish are kosher, but plenty are.
12:07:26 AM May 3rd 2010
What the hell is a "stereotypically Jewish haircut"????
11:47:38 AM Jun 8th 2010
It's called a "Jewfro": thick curly hair all around the head.
10:35:49 AM Aug 20th 2010
Where do we put examples of people who fit this trope but are some other non-Jewish and non-Christian religion (Hindu, Muslim, Buddisht, Satanist, etc.)
02:07:44 PM Feb 25th 2013
How can a character fit this trope if it is explicit that he is not Jewish? Do you mean if a character is Ambiguously Hindu, etc.? If that is what you mean, is it common enough to be a trope?
07:46:25 AM Oct 17th 2013
The Trope itself is not common enough, and exists only in north America. It took This Troper quite a long time to grasp how religion can determine a character, but jewish is a race description in north America (and idiotically for Jews themselves), and what is covered by this Trope is just what the rest of the world identifies as anal or neat or awkward or having curly hair or a somewhat big nose or you know what i mean... But like with many things, north American views influence the whole western world, so while many people can identify the character, the thought that that is a jewish thing is north America centric. And to Kersey475: You mean people who fit this trope except they have a established religion other than jewish? Well when the religion is established to be jewish they aren't Ambiguously Jewish anymore, so with other religions its the same. And if you mean if the people fit the preconception about other religions... find a fitting Trope. I think the whole concept of making a Timey-Wimey Ball of race, nationality and religion is boulderdash...
07:51:59 AM Feb 25th 2015
I guess it comes down to being "Jewish" actually describes your religion, not your race. Am atheist named "Bernstein" born to two Jewish parents in Israel, with predominantly Semetic features is not technically a Jew.
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