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Nice Jewish Boy

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Jewish boys are generally Nice Guys in Hollywood fiction, or at least can be relied on being so when they're the centre piece or critical element of a given work of fiction. So are Ambiguously Jewish ones. They also tend to be self-deprecating, studious, and brainy. Although he may still love to argue, even when he's arguing, you can still tell he's nice. It's reasonably likely he's a cheapskate, but he's probably not actually greedy. They're usually portrayed as smart, reliable, and gentle, with a boyish charm because these are qualities favored in Jewish culture as an ideal husband. Often overlaps with Jewish and Nerdy, and when Beware the Nice Ones, a Nice Jewish Boy can also be a Badass Israeli.

Even though nice Jewish boys are quite likely to create a Gentile Jew-Chaser, a character referred to as "a nice Jewish boy" tends to be unmarried — he's often referred to as "a nice Jewish boy" by his domineering Jewish Mother, who wants him to get married and give her grandchildren and is advertising his niceness. Jewish Mothers may also ask their daughters to find one of these, or indeed their sons to find "a nice Jewish girl."

The Other Wiki has an article about the "Nice Jewish boy" and the roots and influence of the trope.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Zig-zagged by Benny from Black Lagoon. He is definitely friendlier than Revy (but so are most rabid wolverines), and prefers electronics to guns, but like his co-workers, he's utterly cynical to the point of apathy, and has no compunctions about participating in murder, grave robbing, human trafficking, and the other nice things the Black Lagoon company does for money.

    Comic Books 
  • Dan Dreiberg, from Watchmen, is Ambiguously Jewish, but according to Word of God is actually a lapsed Calvinist. Nonetheless, the fact he behaves a lot like a nice Jewish boy is almost certainly partially responsible for the widespread fanon that he's a Jew.
  • Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, employs a distinctly Yiddish turn of phrase for the whole time he's being written by Len Wein and displays elements of this trope.
  • Billy Kaplan/"Wiccan" in Young Avengers, although he wasn't confirmed to be Jewish for some time.
  • Peter Parker aka Spider-Man was sometimes thought to be this due to his very pronounced feelings of guilt and domination by his surrogate mother Aunt May, especially as his creator Stan Lee was Jewish. However, particular details about his family added since the late 1980s have established his background as at least partly Irish and Catholic.
  • In Robin and Red Robin Sebastian Ives is a nice, if snarky, Jewish kid who befriends Tim. He starts out more likely to snap at others and as a bit of a coward but slowly mellows out through his high school years and was always kind at heart and in his interactions with his friends.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Rebbe's son in A Stranger Among Us.
  • Vinz from La Haine averts this trope: he's the most violent of the trio, even though he is a Nice Guy deep down.
  • Greg Focker in Meet the Parents.
  • Jim Levenstein, the main character in American Pie. He's a perv, but then All Men Are Perverts, and other than that he's one of the best-behaved characters.
  • David Levinson of Independence Day, played by Jeff Goldblum, crosses this trope with Jewish and Nerdy especially as he's positioned as the "brains" of the three central characters all the others orbit around in various ways (the other two being the President of the United States and the cocky Steven Hiller, both of whom also have pilot experience). He's an Almighty Janitor with an MIT education but happy in his cable company job in New York City, sharp enough to realize that the arrival of the aliens is bad news when he figures out the purpose of the signal the ships are sending out, and with his crotchety-but-lovable 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.
  • Paulie Bleeker in Juno. True, he's only an informed Jew, but still fits.
  • Lindermann in Freddy vs. Jason, who's an all-around nice guy and dorky.
  • David Kessler in An American Werewolf in London; true, he finds it difficult to kill himself when the animated corpse of his best friend tells him to, but you can't really blame him.
  • Justice League: Barry Allen eagerly joins the Justice League for the chance to make friends, lamely tries to pretend that a compromising photo of him is a completely different "attractive Jewish boy", and might or might not practice gorilla sign language and competitive ice dancing. Also gets points for helping to save the planet.

  • Rabin in the Star Trek novel Vulcan's Forge.
  • Reuven Malter in The Chosen. Danny was less so, due to his introspective nature and his father believed he had temptations toward becoming an Insufferable Genius.
  • Sent up in Portnoy's Complaint, where Alex Portnoy is torn between his conflicting desires; he wants to live a hedonistic life, but he also wants to become the nice Jewish boy his parents expect him to be. Philip Roth seemed generally intent on playing around with this trope forwards, backwards, and sideways in his other works as well.
  • Simon Lewis from The Mortal Instruments.
  • Adolphe Blanc from The Well of Loneliness.
  • Nate from The Love Affairs Of Nathaniel P is a subversion. He acts like this trope, but only because he hates it when people think badly of him. On the inside, he's a selfish Jerkass to the core.
  • Schmendrick from The Last Unicorn. More Ambiguously Jewish than anything, but it fits overall well (that and Peter S. Beagle is Jewish himself, so he may have added a little bit of himself onto his character).
  • Heinz Lewinsky of The Anderssons. He's a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and Louise's first boyfriend, who opens her eyes to how Jews are treated (remember, this is right before World War II started). It is later revealed that Louise got married to him. And like so many other Nice Jewish Boys, he became a doctor.
  • Stanley Uris in It. He recently joined a group of misfits called "The Lucky Seven" AKA "The Losers Club".
  • Nathan Chaim Kaplan of Caging Skies, a kind and intelligent gentle boy who is unfortunately gassed to death

    Live Action TV 
  • The Steve Harvey Show. Recurring character Arthur Rabinowitz is almost always referred to by Steve as "That little polite Jewish boy who helps me with my taxes."
  • House: Dr. James Wilson. Sensitive, caring, has an excellent bedside manner, and retains his composure without being the least bit cold when dealing with dying cancer patients. Even when he does bad things (like rat his best friend out to the police), it's almost always motivated by good intentions (getting said best friend off drugs). His biggest character flaw may be that he's too selfless. And his mother can talk about, "My son, the doctor..."
  • Charlie Eppes, from NUMB3RS, though he is non-observant.
  • Largely wanted by Nanny Fine in the early seasons of The Nanny. She's Jewish and would like to get married to a good man.
  • Discussed and subverted on Glee, as Puck's (Jewish) mother asks him why he can't find himself "a nice Jewish girl." This is part of the reason he goes out with Rachel. Neither Rachel nor Puck exactly fit the "reliable and gentle" mold, though. There is also Jacob Ben Israel, whose School Newspaper News Hound persona is anything but nice.
  • Howard on The Big Bang Theory when he's not a complete pervert (which isn't that often at first, but he does grow up. Mostly).
  • My So-Called Life: Brian Krakow is the brainy, sensitive, Jewish boy next door to Angela. He pines for her while she pines for the troubled, bad-boy gentile Jordan Catalano.
  • David "Gordo" Gordon on Lizzie McGuire.
  • Adam Goldberg of The Goldbergs is part of a Jewish family and is one of the nicest characters in the show.
  • Chase Matthews on Zoey 101.
  • Robbie Shapiro on Victorious. When he's not insulting people through his ventriloquist dummy.
  • Hilariously subverted on the UK version of The Apprentice, when Sir Alan Sugar berated one of the contestants for not knowing the difference between Kosher meat and Halal meat after claiming he was a 'good little Jewish boy' on his application.
  • Josh from Being Human (US).
  • Being Human (UK): George is Jewish. Maybe a little less nice, though.
  • It isn't often mentioned in The Wonder Years, but Kevin's best friend Paul Pfeiffer is Jewish: one episode featured his bar mitzvah. A geeky Nice Guy, he fits the trope.
  • Matt Parkman, from Heroes, is Jewish according to Word of God.
  • On Seinfeld, Jerry's mother can't be persuaded that her son isn't a nice Jewish boy, although he very obviously is not.
  • Sheldon in Less Than Kind.
  • Sol Star on Deadwood fits the mold of nice Jewish boy to a tee—which isn't really an asset, considering he lives in a Wild West town of murderers, thieves, gamblers, and drunks.
  • Zachary Ezekiel Rosenblatt Beekerman, also known as Zeke, from Wizards of Waverly Place is probably the nicest character on the show. He's so nice, he sometimes blames himself for other people's problems.
  • Jeremy on Sports Night. Dan is less nice, but he's working on it.
  • Thoroughly averted in The League. Rodney Ruxin is a lapsed Jew and a monumental asshole. And damn proud of it.
  • Ross Geller of Friends is a mild example bordering on Informed Judaism.
  • The O.C. has Seth Cohen, a snarkier version of one but one nevertheless.
  • Nico from Rebelde Way fits this to a tee, despite his commitment issues.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Midge's husband Joel is a complicated example. He seems to be a good husband, father, and breadwinner with a high-paying job at his uncle's company and a hobby in stand-up comedy. Flashbacks reveal that he swept Midge off her feet while she was dating a lantern-jawed, blond gentile. However, by the end of the first episode, he's revealed to have many character flaws that make him much less an example than he first seemed.
  • Punisher: Brain, a Jew, is a friendly, brilliant and loving husband and father. At least, he was before he had to go into hiding.
  • The Man in the High Castle has Juliana's boyfriend Frank, who is secretly Jewish under an Axis-occupied America and he is definitely sweet. Then Break the Cutie happens and he becomes more ruthless and merciless.
  • Rory Regan of Arrow, once he gets past his initial Roaring Rampage of Revenge, is generally a pretty nice guy as well as being a faithful Jew.
  • Between all the hyper-ambitious, backstabbing doctors of the Charite hospital, Jewish Doctor Paul Ehrlich is by far the most decent, compassionate and upright, as well as a loving husband and a doting father to his two daughters.
  • Cyrus Goodman from Andi Mack is notoriously caring, loyal, helpful, thoughtful, and kind. He is proudly and openly Jewish.

  • Collaborator Michael Moorcock described American heavy rock band the Blue Öyster Cult as "a bunch of nice, well brought up, Jewish boys from "upstate New York". (Only three of the original BOC lineup were Jewish, though).
  • Other nice Jewish boys who went into musical careers include a certain Robert Zimmermann, better known as Bob Dylan.
  • Jewish acapella group the Maccabeats do Jewish-themed parodies of pop songs, and often mention the importance of family in their songs. They are/were also all students at Yeshiva University.
  • Geddy Leenote  of Rush described himself at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction as "a nice Jewish boy from Toronto."
  • When Kiss appeared on The Mike Douglas Show in 1974, Gene Simmons went out to be interviewed by Mike. During their chat, Simmons claimed to be "evil incarnate", prompting comedienne Totie Fields to comment that he was "probably some nice Jewish boy from Long Island". Simmons is indeed Jewish, born in Israel.
  • Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth is Jewish and despite his history veers towards this.
  • The late Hillel Slovak of Red Hot Chili Peppers has been characterised as this, he was famously Jewish (having spent his first few years in Israel), very chilled out in interviews, and a business-minded peacemaker at a time Anthony and Flea were prone to drugged-out laddish behaviour. Before and after his death, they have never had a single bad thing to say about him, and he's regarded as Too Cool to Live by many fans.
  • The Foxy Bard has several costumed characters that he performs depending on which musical style he's doing. Dovid Mordachai, a klezmer musician, is described as "the only roommate [persona] that will not bring shame to his mother" and "a good Jewish boy."note 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • In The Bible:
    • Jesus makes this trope Older Than Feudalism. One of the possible titles for Jesus Was Way Cool was Jesus Was A Nice Jewish Boy, and it's mentioned several times throughout the article. This is sometimes taken to extremes: there's a hymn titled "Gentle Jesus Meek And Mild"... which is an ironic hymn. Jesus had differing ideas about the definition of "meekness" than the modern connotation and, even in the Bible, has his moments of Kung-Fu Jesus. He was not a tame carpenter.
    • A joke says "he was thirty-three, single, no obvious girlfriend and living at home with his mom. He's Jewish."
    • The Old Testament is also full of this trope. Isaac and Jacob are good examples.
  • The Talmud has guidelines relations, between husband and wife. One particular rule is that Jewish husbands are required to satisfy their wives before themselves.



    Western Animation 


Alternative Title(s): A Nice Jewish Boy