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Jewish and Nerdy

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Jews are, perhaps, the originators of the modern nerd stereotype. Why? Maybe their long, scholarly tradition, maybe their immigrant past (comparable to Asian and Nerdy and the Bollywood Nerd), maybe their overbearing Education Mamas, maybe for some other weird reason. But for whatever reason, you will rarely see a stupid Jewish character on TV (unless he or she is more of a Ditzy Genius or Genius Ditz). In Real Life, many prominent doctors, lawyers, authors, scientists, and philosophers have been of Jewish descent. Nearly 20% of all Nobel Prizes have been awarded to people of Jewish descent.

These characters often sport Nerdy Nasalness that may accompany a Brooklyn or Yiddish-inflected accent as part of the stereotype. Maybe even with Einstein Hair to go with, if they have one.

Compare Asian and Nerdy and Bollywood Nerd, two other ethnic nerd stereotypes. Contrast Gentile Jew-Chaser and Black and Nerdy, both inversions of a more prevalent ethnic stereotype. Intelligence as a character trait may lead to instances of Ambiguously Jewish, thanks to this trope. Finally, contrast Hipster, which often deals with Jewish or Ambiguously Jewish characters acting stereotypically 'cool.' Compare Nice Jewish Boy and Magical Jew.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Benny from Black Lagoon is Jewish and a computer geek.
  • Leo Kakinoki in Ghost Stories is an elementary school student obsessed with the paranormal, and the English Gag Dub makes him and his family Jewish.

    Comic Books 
  • Young Avengers: In a team where every member is some degree of Ascended Fanboy, Billy Kaplan/Wiccan is still one of the biggest nerds, often quotes pop culture, and is canonically confirmed Jewish during Avengers: The Children's Crusade.
  • Gertrude Yorkes of the Runaways is both incredibly well-read and Jewish.
  • Kitty Pryde from X-Men; in the comic she wears a Star of David necklace. She is a computer nerd, and in the Claremont days a general sci-fi and comic book nerd (with a particular fondness for Star Wars, so naturally the X-Men's space adventures were just awesome for her). Less so in more modern depictions, where her general nerdiness is either downplayed or outright forgotten.
  • In Robin Tim's friend Ives is plenty nerdy, playing tabletop RPGs and arguing on what counts as actual cannon from the Star Wars expanded universe and what computer operating systems are better, he is also Jewish which means Tim takes note when he spots him leaving a Catholic church (Ives was there for a cancer support group meeting).

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz) in The Addams Family Values has it all: the asthma inhaler, the round glasses, the preference for complex science books, and the vulnerability to everything. His sickliness immediately attracts Wednesday.
  • According to writer Travis Beacham, Dr. Hermann Gottlieb of Pacific Rim has Jewish ancestry but is non-practicing.
  • Animal House:
    • Subverted by Donald "Boone" Schoenstein (Peter Riegert). Though Ambiguously Jewish, he is arguably the fourth coolest guy in the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, as well as The Lancer to the supercool Eric "Otter" Stratton. (His girlfriend does think he's a loser, though.)
    • When Delta is tricked into using the wrong answers to cheat on a psych test, Hoover discovers their mistake (too late) by checking with the Jewish house.
  • Marv Murchens (Daniel Stern) of the Home Alone movies is a double subversion. Though certainly geeky in appearance, he has a mind scarcely superior to that of a young child. However, on occasion, he will be the voice of reason and more intelligent than his partner.
  • David Levinson of Independence Day, played by Jeff Goldblum. A Nice Jewish Boy and Gibbering Genius whose Establishing Character Moment is playing chess with his lovably crotchety dad, he verges on Almighty Janitor in that he has an MIT education but is happy in his cable company job in New York City. When the alien ships first appear, he's sharp enough to figure out the purpose of the signal the ships are sending out, and with dad in tow heads to Washington D.C. to warn the President of the United States of the threat. (It helps that the ex-wife he's still devoted to works as the White House Communications Director.) Later, he figures out how to bring down the shields that protect the aliens' ships, finally giving humanity a chance to stop them. Even his first name plays into this trope, as this situation is the David Versus Goliath tale from the Old Testament on a huge scale. It's worth noting that while Goldblum has played nerdy characters in many films and is himself Jewish, Levinson is the only one of those characters explicitly presented as Jewish and thus able to qualify for this trope.
  • Timmy of "Jaws 2". He has a Jewfro and glasses.
  • Barry Allen/The Flash in the DC Extended Universe. In Justice League, he's socially awkward, built himself a suit to resist the high friction his Super Speed causes, and indirectly describes himself as "Jewish".

  • The Dresden Files: Butters is a total geek and mentions in a couple of places that he is Jewish.
  • Most of Chaim Potok's characters embody this trope, especially his protagonists.
    • Everybody in The Chosen, a novel about a friendship between two Talmud students.
    • In The Beginning has an interesting contrast: the protagonist's father is a Badass Polish Jew whose backstory includes joining the Polish army against his family and community's opposition and killing an unspecified, but quite large, number of Cossacks. He is very clear that the appropriate response to a pogrom is violence, and passes this belief on to his son, the protagonist... who couldn't possibly act on it, being a pale, skinny, glasses-wearing, utterly brilliant, chronically-ill bullying target.
  • Stanley Uris (from Stephen King's It) must count, what with loving birdwatching, being almost obsessively neat and smartly dressed, and growing up to become an accountant.
  • Albert Kaussner from The Langoliers, a spaghetti western buff and Indiana Jones fan with a yarmulke on his head. He's also the resident Badass Normal, being the one who finally takes down the insane Craig Toomy.
  • The Supervillainy Saga protagonist, Gary Karkofsky, constantly references Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and other pop culture. He's also very-very Jewish. Curiously, he's also a Kavorka Man and Pop-Cultured Badass.
  • Minerva Green, better known as Min, is the protagonist of Why We Broke Up and applies. She's Jewish and a smart, bookish movie buff with a quick wit. She shares qualities of both a nerd and a Hipster and falls somewhere between the two.
  • In Goodbye To Berlin, Natalia Landauer is a well-read Jewish heiress who wields her book smarts like a cudgel.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Rachel Berry from Glee is a musical-theater nerd, though the show also has a rare stupid (or at least Book Dumb) Jewish character in Jerk Jock Puck. And then, of course, there's Jacob Ben Israel.
  • Ross Geller from Friends is a brainy paleontologist and easily the most socially awkward Friend.
  • The two nerdiest characters from Beverly Hills, 90210, Andrea and David, are both Jewish. In the Sequel Series, Navid is by far the nerdiest main character and is also Jewish.
  • Paul Phiffer on The Wonder Years is a Jewish nerd.
  • Adam, sci-fi and video obsessed favourite son of a classic Jewish Mother, in The Goldbergs.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: In a cast full of Jews, only Midge's father Abe is really an example, and he's a nerd in the "middle-aged, tweedy professor" style.
  • The Plot Against America: Seldon is a small, bespectacled, nasal-voiced Jewish kid who likes to play chess and won the math competition. He's a friend of Philip's, but Philip ditches him whenever there's something more interesting to do.
  • Power Rangers S.P.D. has Bridge, a Cloud Cuckoo Lander with a love for buttery toast. He's Ambiguously Jewish, noting in a Christmas episode that he used to celebrate Channukah instead of Christmas.
  • My Dead Ex: Ben is a Jewish boy who's endearingly dorky, with interests like cooking that aren't typical of teenage boys, and charmingly awkward.
  • Victorious: Robbie Shapiro is frequently mocked for his nerdiness by other characters and the narrative alike, and is stated in Wok Star to have had a bar mitzvah.

  • In Zach Sherwin's song "Street Cred", Sherwin discusses how, rather than participating in underground battles and being in gangs like the rappers he admired in his youth, his childhood consisted of joining his synagogue's youth group, being on his high school's debate team, and getting a job at the local TCBY.

  • Red Panda Adventures: The first Molecule Max is a theoretical physicist and university teacher. As his name implies, he's able to shrink himself so small an oxygen molecule is the size of a football to him using technology of his own invention. Impressive as this is, Max wishes his powers were more flashy precisely because there aren't a lot of Jewish superheroes out there, and is actually put out that the Red Panda brought him along in "Small Wonders" because he wanted Professor Weisman more than Molecule Max. He was originally a member of the American superhero team the Justice Union, but as World War II ramped up and the Americans initially stayed out of it, he joined a Canadian unit known as the Home Team so he could do his part.

  • Fiddler on the Roof: Chava is sometimes portrayed as this, due to her love of reading books. The 2015 Broadway revival gave her glasses.
  • Leopoldstadt: One of the main characters, Ludwig, is a professor of mathematics at the University of Vienna, and is obsessed with number theory, particularly solving the Riemann Hypothesis.

    Video Games 

  • Mordecai Heller of Lackadaisy was eventually confirmed by Word of God to be Jewish and is one of the smartest members of the cast. Unlike many examples, he's also extremely brutal.
  • Ethan Siegal of Shortpacked! and Dumbing of Age is a toy collector, a near-fanatical editor of the Transformers Wiki, and can recite He-Man audiobooks from memory.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: Kyle is the smartest kid in his group and has a poster of Einstein on his wall. He also sports a classic, unfortunate Jewfro underneath his hat. However, he's cool enough to be just one of the guys. His cousin from Connecticut, on the other hand, is extremely nerdy, delicate, and stereotypical, to Kyle's annoyance.