Frumgirl 4: Species, a Study

There are several species of Jews to be found in secular college. I’ve been astonished and entertained as I stumbled across each variation in its turn, and I document them here for inspection.

Before my first major-studies class, I checked the roster and noticed a distinctly Jewish (and religious) male name. I was excited, because here would be someone else at my side in case we needed to negotiate holidays or similar matters. But after scouring the class for several periods, I sadly concluded that he must have dropped out.

He didn’t, but I wouldn’t have recognized him in a million years without a formal introduction. Forget the button-down shirt his name seemed to require, he didn’t bother with a yarmulke. I know that is quite common on the MO spectrum, but I had thought that all but the most borderline refrained from sinking their teeth into meat they know isn’t kosher. This fellow seems determined to have the best of both worlds. As such, he showed his first interest in kosher food when it was ordered specially for the religious students, but immediately abandoned it when he saw that it was not, in fact, better than the standard fare. He associates almost exclusively with non-Jews, preferring the sort of discourse men once held in reserve until after the women withdrew to the drawing room. He happily piggy-backs on any arrangements made for religious students, and, to my amusement, briefly sprouted a yarmulke when a young and unattached religious woman spoke on campus.

This Fence Straddler is not to be confused with the average modern orthodox student. These are, at first glance difficult to discern as Jewish, but they identify strongly as such. “Didn’t you realize I was Jewish?” asked one colleague, dressed in leggings and a cap-sleeve t-shirt, in complete surprise. Um, no. What was supposed to tip me off? The baseball cap that never left her boyfriend’s head was more of a hint. They do not go near the meat on any buffet, and seek out the company of other Jews. They frequently become involved in communal and humanitarian activities.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the Jewish Press Jew. The title says it all. Any conversation with this student is bound to end in one of two subjects: how Jews are God’s gift to humanity, or Israel. To the Jewish Press Jew, there is nothing else in the world aside from the Chosen Nation in general, and their Mediterranean state in particular. Did you read an article in the New York Times this morning? The JP Jew didn’t, because the NYT is anti-Israel. Are you going to a conference at the UN? The JP Jew wouldn’t; they’re just a glorified gang out to persecute Jews. Is a Nobel Prize winner coming to speak? He’s Jewish, you know, as are 33% of Nobel Prize winners. You studied three chapters for the test on November 27? The JP Jew was glued to the internet, waiting for updates on the status of the Holtzbergs. Is the test scheduled for the week before Pesach? This Jew will wrangle to have it moved because of pre-Pesach preparations.

The Jewish Press Jew needs to be differentiated from the standard-issue centrist/ultra orthodox student. These tend to be less concerned with Israeli politics and more concerned with simply getting their degree as quickly as possible, preferably with honors. They are often startled by how clueless the greater world is of Jewish religious requirements and customs and will make a stir if necessary, but otherwise keep it under their yarmulkes. They easily approach any other religious students for favors as if they’ve known them forever when they’ve never even spoken before. They befriend non-Jewish students on a superficial level, reserving their non-college life predominantly for their Jewish/religious friends.

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 12:13 AM  Comments (13)  

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  1. Fruumgirl 4 you wrote: “You studied three chapters for the test on November 27? The JP Jew was glued to the internet, waiting for updates on the status of the Holtzbergs.” You say that as if it’s a bad thing. I’m a little appalled at your lack of sensitivity. The Holtzberg’s were brutally murdered by terrorists b’chinam for just being Yidden.

  2. I’ve come across all types too.
    A lot of times I get surprised when I find out the person is Jewish. One girl in my class mentioned a sister having a bas mitzvah and I was shocked. Another one mentioned that she likes how her religon says to give 10% to charity, that she thinks its fair, again I was surprised.

    Sometimes I hear really Jewish sounding names and then see it’s a black. Usually if there’s a frum Jewish person in my class, then I know them already. A few times I see new people.

    very true about it all.

    NoFear: I can understand what she’s saying. I don’t think she means to be insensitive. I can say from my side, that I didn’t read any news about Mumbai, I read headlines and that’s it. For some reason I wasn’t interested in reading more. Not that I didn’t care for what happened, it was a tragedy and I felt bad. But like with other Israel happenings, I just skip it.

  3. Didn’t say it was bad. But it is annoying to mention it over and over again to non-Jewish classmates who, quite frankly, could care less.

  4. Your description of the Jewish Press is so off-base as to be pathetic. They just had a full page feature on the (very non-frum) photographr Annie Leibovitz. They constantly have articles on things the yeshivishe yiddin won’t touch — abuse, homosexulity, shidduchim, agunos, etc. What paper are you reading???

  5. If you want to know where a newspaper is leaning look in its classifieds, as those are placed there by the readers for other readers to find. Same with its full page ads, no one would spend that kind of money if it wasn’t going to reach their target audience. The main audience of the Jewish Press is the Yeshivish crowd and Zionists(of a more religious bent).

  6. Yitz – the Nobel Prize winners that the JP Jew is so proud of aren’t religious either. So?

  7. I find it extremely bothersome that people need to put everyone in a stereo-typical category in the first place. Jews are human beings who come in all shapes and sizes. No one looks alike. We are ALL unique.

    The Jewish Side: Why does it surprise you that a black person would have a Jewish name? Did you ever think that it’s not a “Jewish” name, but it’s a name from the Bible? Many people name their children after people in the Bible.

    In general, this post seems judgmental.

  8. Wow. Ok. What is with the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude towards happenings in Israel? Whether you’re a Zionist or not, the people affected are YOUR people. I know the old joke about not praying in this shul or the other, but this is taking the lack of unity to a completely new level. Did the brutal massacre at Merkaz HaRav also inspire the same indifferent shrug?

  9. And I don’t know what kind of university you’re in but on most university campuses, people would care about something like what happened in Mumbai, even if from just a humaniatarian standpoint.

  10. Firstly, well written and beautiful blog. I just found you and look forward to looking around.

    Secondly, what a coincidence. I also tend to classify the Jews in secular colleges. My classifications, however, are different. There are those with blonde hair, brunettes and, as I like to call them, “the others.” The blondies are all like, “We’re blonde but not commenting on it,” as if there’s nothing to say. I mean, there isn’t, but you can just /tell/ they know they’re blonde.

    What IS IT with all the judging? Seriously, you “Frum, Young Ladies,” you think putting yourself on a pedestal helps anything? Fine, remain aloof and seperate, that’s your decision. But remember that we’re all one nation and have absolutely nothing to gain by judging and mocking your fellow Jews. I won’t get into the “You think you’re so great that you get to be the judge,” aspect, nor the “This is on the /internet/, you may be risking a Chillul Hashem,” aspect either. I don’t know you and it’s not up to me to give you mussar. I’ve got enough to work on as is.

    I’m just saying that I’m as big a fan of wit and sarcasm and cynicism as the next girl. But this? I’m just unimpressed.

  11. This post was made in jest, much the same as any of Frum Satire’s posts characterizing everything from handshakers to “al cheit” clappers. Chill, folks.

  12. Nikki Flores: True, I have realized that.

  13. If your so easily offended you shouldn’t be reading blogs peeps!

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