the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

LL Cool Jew


I’m so tired of other Jews.    When did being Jewish become the "in" thing?    Moronic Hollywood actors going to Kabbalah classes.  Front page articles in New York magazine about Jews being smart  (I dealt with that subject months before them and much better, I might add).    Today I was reading Michelle’s funny NY blog and learned that she is going to be one of those talking heads on a VH1 special titled "So Jewtastic!"  That’s great for her and I wish her all the best, but this show’s concept was already making me feel ill.

From the VH1 website:

From Dylan’s anthems to Spielberg’s blockbusters, it’s no secret that Jews have made huge contributions to pop culture. They’ve succeeded in spite of age-old stereotypes about Jews as brainy, neurotic, and well, anything but hip.

But that’s all changing. In an age when Madonna demands to be called "Esther," Demi celebrates Purim and seemingly everyone speaks a little Yiddish, it’s never been hipper to be a Jew. All Access Presents: So Jewtastic celebrates everything you knew – and lots of stuff you didn’t – about famous members of the Tribe.

The one-hour show will cover the trendy rise of Kabbalah, the new hip Jews in Hollywood, the marriage of Jews and hip hop, the connection between Jews and Heavy Metal and the domination of Jews in comedy. As a bonus, Jackie Mason schools the goyim on Yiddish terms that rock. OY GEVALT!

Thanks to a mensch-laden panel of pundits, yentas and a Rabbi or two, So Jewtastic will also circumcise the old ideas about Jewish mothers, ridiculous stereotypes and whether or not Jews know how to play sports (they do!) So put down that gefilte fish and pop open some Manischewitz, it’s time to get your Jew on…VH1 style.

Whoever wrote that has a lot to atone for next Yom Kippur.

As if this wasn’t enough, a few minutes later I’m reading about big-time blogger Andrew Krucoff and how he’s in Israel and he’s never had a bar mitzvah, and now he’s going to have one sponsored by the porno-loving shmata king, Dov Charney of American Apparel. Now, frankly, I didn’t know much about big-time blogger Andrew Krucoff until I wrote a post about big-time blogger Stephanie Klein.  Bloggers-in-the-know told me that Andrew Krucoff was even bigger than Stephanie Klein.  Now as much as everyone hated Stephanie Klein, at least she wrote some interesting posts.  What the hell does this Krucoff do that makes him such a big-shot?    Here’s his latest blog.   As my mother might say, "Nu?"  This guy must be some shmoozer.

I’m just sick of this whole Jews-are-trendy thing.  It used to be that I would use a Yiddish phrase and only other Jews would get it.  Now, the Korean owner of my local donut shop tells me her husband is a shmendrick.   I’ve been so frustrated with my people lately, that I even thought of converting, but then Sophia told me that Larry David already did that in the last "Curb Your Enthusiasm" episode. 

Fucking trendy Jews!

Listen, everyone knows that Chanukah sucks compared to Christmas.  Why continue with the facade of Chanukah being cool because Adam Sandler wrote one fucking song about it?  Why can’t I love Rudolph and Frosty and the Grinch — all of the traditional Christmas stuff.    When Rudolph saves the day with his shiny nose — that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

After reading all about these trendy Jews, I felt starved for some Christmas spirit.  Since I live in a fairly Jewish neighborhood, it wasn’t easy.  I decided to go to the most Christian place I could think of in Los Angeles — Walmart.   As I pulled into their enormous parking lot, images of Christmas lights and Christmas trees and Christmas fruitcakes danced in my head.

"Happy Holidays!" said the greeter, a middle-aged woman in a wheelchair. 

"Happy Holidays?" I asked.  "Don’t you mean "Merry Christmas?"

"Shhh.  We’re not allowed to say that anymore.  Only "Happy Holidays."

"That’s weird.  I came here especially because I figured Walmart would be… real goyish…"

"Goyish… ha ha.  I heard Seinfeld once say that in that episode with the puffy shirt.   By the way, did you see "Curb Your Enthusiasm" last night.  That Larry David… what a shmendrick. "

"Can I speak to a manager?  I really want someone to say "Merry Christmas" to me."

"I’m sorry.  We don’t want to insult any of our customers who may be of another faith.  Like our Jewish friends."

"I’m Jewish."

"Welcome, Jewish friend.  Welcome to Walmart.  The Tony Hawk Chanukah dreidels are in aisle five, in between the Sarah Silverman menorah set and the "Story of the Maccabees," as read by Dame Jew-dy Densch."

"I don’t want any of that crap.   I’m not here for Chanukah."

‘Well, Happy Holidays whatever your celebration."

"I’m here for Christmas."


"What’s the matter with mentioning Christmas?"

"I thought you were Jewish."

"I am Jewish!"

"Isn’t it cool to be Jewish?"

Oy!  It used to be the blacks, then the gays, now the Jews…. enough!  Enough of trendy!  I want some of that homey Christmas stuff.   Like in Norman Rockwell.  Or on that Charlie Brown special"

"I hear you, young man."

I turned and saw a giant of a man.  He had a white beard.  His voice was deep, reminiscent of Burl Ives.  He wore a Hawaiian shirt and an enormous crucifix around his neck.

"Let’s bring back Christ into Christmas," he bellowed.  "Everyone come here!  This young man has something important to say to us all!"

Shoppers — men, women, children — all gathered around me. 

"It’s all very nice that you want to include everyone in your "Happy Holidays…" I said, my voice cracking, "…but if you really want to say "Merry Christmas," I don’t really see anything wrong with that."

"You hear that?!" shouted the crucifix guy.  "He’s absolutely right.  Why should we be afraid of celebrating Christmas?   How did this happen?  I say, they’ve been holding us back from saying "Merry Christmas."  It’s the Jews.  The Jews I tell ya!  First they kill our Savior, then they spy on America for Israel, and now they want to steal away our holiday!  Well, we won’t let them — will we?!"

"Uh… I didn’t exactly mean…" I stammered.

A pregnant customer stood on the "Customer Service" desk, waving wildly.

"Let’s march on Temple Beth Am!"

The mob grew excited with shouts of "Yeah," "Let’s do it!" and "Stop Those Shmendricks!"

The middle-aged Walmart greeter in the wheelchair stood up.  It was like a miracle happening before our eyes.

"Let’s go tell the Jews what we think!" she screamed.

Everyone in Walmart started chanting. 

"We love Jesus!  We love Jesus!  We love Jesus!"

Within minutes, the store was emptied of everyone except for myself, which wasn’t so bad, because I don’t really like crowded stores.

Was I worried about Temple Beth Am?  Not really.  Los Angeles crowds are notorious for giving up early, such as leaving Dodger games in the sixth inning.  The temple was pretty far away, and with all the traffic, I’m sure they just ended up dispersing and going to Starbucks instead. 

But I was disturbed, and frankly irritated, at the mob’s total devotion to Jesus. 

Because if you think about it:  What is Jesus — but another trendy Jew?!

(UPDATE — with a bit of a wimpy retraction.)


  1. TM

    Very funny post.

    I also have no idea who Krucoff is and until he popped up on our blog, didn’t know he existed.

    On a more serious note, I think the trendy Jews movement is a desperate, flailing attempt to grasp at something that resonates with people’s self-awareness of their Jewishness even as they assimilate into the larger culture.

    If the notion of religious identity is diminished when faith is too weak to sustain it, then it makes sense that some will attempt to make the cultural aspects of that identity take on greater prominence in their lives and surroundings. In reality, however, it just points out how fragile so many Jews’ links to our heritage have become.

  2. Sandra

    Maybe it’s because being Jewish just seems more interesting than being…say…raised Catholic? Better (and more) food, anyway?

  3. Neil

    Better food than Catholics?

    Cuban food?

    Italian food?

    If anything, it’s the sexiness of Jewish men. (hint: see last post)

  4. mrsmogul

    I never heard of that Krukoff character I’ll have to see…

  5. pia

    I don’t have H&H and all those places blogrolled; I have never been to a Walmart and am of course secretly dying to go though I wouldn’t buy anything of course.

    Jewish food is good? Burnt chicken and burnt chicken and more burnt chicken?

    I like my hipness factor being minus 1000 points–figured it out one day

    If we have become cool, it’s only because we’re unafraid to let our neurosis show on TV and in print.

    Stephanie does; and I do admire her for that

    And I think many Jewish women help. As in marry a Jewish woman and you’ll never have to make another decision. My brother-in-law will happilly confirm that though he is—Jewish

    Larry David Converted?

  6. ashbloem

    ‘So Jewtastic’? I really thought that was a joke, until I realised you had a link and it was REAL.

    Honestly, TV makes me despair.

  7. Jo

    This post was soooooo unrealistic. The Walmart greeters can’t possibly hold a decent conversation like that 😉

  8. New York Moments

    No way is Channukah not as cool as Christmas. There are more days than Christmas. If the Christmas hype starts in September for a 2 day holiday, just think of what some fancy marketing could do for a holiday as long as Channukah! Decorations and Channukah songs could be a year round event!

  9. MA

    It bums me out when minorities are fetishized. We’re just people.

    P.S. This woman at my mom’s work was convinced that my dad was Israeli. She said to my mom, “Oh..that’s so very progressive of you. I assume you celebrate both Channukah and Christmas.”

    Now I’m beginning to think that progressive meant trendy and cool. Damn it!

  10. Dave2

    Oh, so YOU’RE the one who is responsible for all of Michael Jackson’s financial troubles!

  11. TWM

    Wonderful. You have no way of knowing this but ever since I have read you I have envied your “Jewishness.” By that I mean your connection to a group that is interwoven into so much of the world’s history.

    I am Southern, but since I don’t hunt or own a trailer I don’t really feel connected to the South most of the time, and while I am a Catholic, down here in the South that is really just Southern Baptist with a Pope. I don’t feel a historical or cultural connection to it like the northeast Italian or Irish Catholics seem to have.

    I suppose it is that historical connection I miss, and you have a great way of describing it.

    But don’t worry, I won’t be following in Madonna’s footsteps any time soon.

    Although I am circumsized so . . .

  12. JJ

    It’ll pass, Neil. Methodists just want to be someone else for awhile without the muss and fuss of actual change.

  13. Elizabeth

    This was awesome.

    Krucoff made his name as a commenter on NY blogs like Eurotrash etc— did you follow the whole job-booting thing? Gawker covered it big time— as did lindsayism . . . don’t know that he’s ever written anything as funny as this post, however.

  14. Neil

    I should note that as a new writer for Blogebrity, of course I know who Krucoff is and deeply respect his work, especially now that Blogebrity’s editor reminded me who he really is. May his Israeli trip be filled with much mazel and simcha, and as is so often repeated at my family seder, “Next Year in — Krucoff’s new bloging network.”

  15. Pearl

    Please publish this elsewhere, Neil.

    Gotta tell ya, Neil. Your offbeat writing spins my dreidel. “Gimme a gimel, gimme a heh, gimme a nun, gimme a shin!”

  16. Pearl

    Oops, forgot to add, “I really like your *spin* on things!”

  17. Nichelle

    What a great post! I live in NYC, raised Catholic in the South, but know about Jewish culture than most.

  18. Jill

    Neil, this is absolutely hysterical. I especially enjoyed the chanting “We love Jesus!” I totally lost it just then.

  19. Eric W.

    Remember Jerry’s dentist who he thinks converted to Judaism simply for the jokes?

  20. Pauly D

    I pretend I’m not Jewish all the time! It’s a fun game I like to play in places like Missouri and South Dakota!


  21. anne arkham

    I’d buy anything endorsed by Sarah Silverman.

  22. Hilary

    Neil, does this mean I’m a trendy Jew because I love The Leevees new Hanukkah record? Please say no.

  23. Networkchic

    I guess you are right…Jesus was a trendy Jew. All along I thought it was the Catholics that got the trendy vote.

  24. Neil

    Hilary, I don’t think there is any trendier Jew than yourself. But take that as a compliment. Just curious, do you have a Yo Semite! t-shirt?

  25. jamy

    Neil–how in the world do you come up with this stuff? Hilarious.

  26. akaky

    Neil, if Jews are on the cutting edge, a concept I think would go down well with almost any Cossack you choose to ask, then you should go with the flow. Take advantage of your new ethnic hipness before the focus shifts to Armenians or Eskimoes or dyslexic Dravidian dwarves and being Jewish becomes so yesterday’s news. Score with shiksas; you could do well with religious shiksas too; just remind them that Jesus was a rabbi (it says so in the Gospels, so dont let them get away with that whole Jesus was a Christian thing) and that you want to teach the halakhic method of cleaning a fish with fins while snapping their bras off with one hand. Go for it, dude!

  27. Hilary

    Ouch. And nope. But I do have a Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl t-shirt. But if it makes me any less hip, I bought it a few years ago. So basically, I was ahead of the trend.

  28. Michelle


    I agree with you in many respects. I believe I made a comment in the show along the lines of “Jews being trendy makes me uncomfortable, because as with any trend, we eventually go out of style… and that’s when the Kindertransport starts rollin’ in.”

    Not sure if they use it or not!!

  29. Spirit Of Owl

    Zappa said, “Oh, you’re Jewish? Love your nails.” Jesus said, “Ay gevalt.”

  30. kris

    I’d just like to spend one day, one hour! inside your head.

  31. Neil

    How ironic, because I was just thinking what it would be like to be inside you(r head…)

  32. better safe than sorry

    oy!!! i love that word. i wonder if it’s used in the bible at all, or whether jesus has been misquoted all this time?

  33. sara lee

    she said inside your HEAD Neil (you big flirt)…great post…hard to explain why I was laughing out loud here at work!

  34. Alice

    oh.. wait.. that walmart part was a joke…? i always thought something similar to that actually WOULD happen if i went into a walmart. huh.

  35. sara lee

    probably not something they really want to be paying me to do…but reading your blog is a great pick me up in the afternoon!!

  36. Tatyana

    And so in typical big-mouth Jewish mode, you’ve triggered another wave of pogroms on Jewish people. You’re so tradition-adhered, Neil!

    [as a present for this post, here’s a link to the site I’m planning to buy my “shalom, mf-er t-shirt]]

  37. fat asian baby

    where do i get me one of those shirts?

  38. [Jewlicious] War on X-Mas

    […]…which makes this blog post so odd – Neil Kramer, a Jew (duh!) going on and on about Andrew Krucoff’s adventures in Jerusalem, how the notion of cool Jews is dumb and then segueing into his take on the War – he’s pro-Christmas. I think. Whatever. read it, it’s funny. Or disturbing. […]

  39. Hope

    Once again, Neil, you keep using the word “Shmendrick,” and it rhymes with my last name. I always thought that my last name was very WASP-y, does this mean I can get in on the Jew trendiness?

    -Kendrick Shmendrick

  40. erin

    Okay what is a schmendrick? I’m not trendy enough to know that one…

  41. Neil

    From the Joys of Yiddish by Leo Roston:


    Pronounced SHMEN-drick, to rhyme with “Hendrick.” From the name of the character in an operetta by Abraham Goldfaden.

    1. A Caspar Milquetoast; a kind of *shlemiel* – but weak and thin. (That, at least, is how I visualize it.) A shlemiel can be physically impressive, but not a shmendrick. A shmendrick is small, short, weak, thin, a young *nebech*, perhaps an apprentice shlemiel.

    2. A pipsqueak; a no-account; the opposite of a *mensh*. ‘That shmendrick, maybe he’ll grow up to be a mensh.’

    3. Someone who can’t succeed but thinks he can, and persists in acting as though he might. ‘He has all the unrealistic hopes of a shmendrick.’

    4. A boy, or young man; someone ‘we behind the ears.’ ‘That shmendrick can’t be trusted with such responsibility.’

    5. A child (affectionately). ‘How’s my little shmendrick.’

    6. Penis (colloquial; rarely used by men. When used by a female, the intention is to deride by diminutizing.).

    A woman began to beat her shmendrick of a husband, who crawled under the bed.

    ‘Come out!’, she cried.

    ‘No!’ he said. ‘I’ll show you who’s boss in this house!'”


    Neil: “Erin, you sexy shiksa. How about you come over to my place and I’ll show you my new blogging template.”

    Erin: “Shut up, Neilochka, you shmendrick.”

  42. Danny

    Madonna/Esther and the other celebs’ interest in Kabbalah makes me so crazy that I want to convert to Christianity just so I can become a raving anti-Semite (as if there aren’t plenty of Jewish anti-Semites…).

    I agree with Michelle’s comment that as soon as the “We Love Yids” fad starts to die down (any second now), the Kinderstransport will start rolling in. (Am I turning into my grandmother—never trusting the goyims’ interest in the Jews?)

    Despite her reign as Queen of the New Jew Trendiness, I have to admit that Sarah Silverman rules. My favorite part of her new movie is her response to the Jews-killed-Christ libel. Refusing to pin it on the Romans as we’ve all done when faced with the accusation, Silverman instead screams, “I hope the Jews DID kill Christ. I’d do it again!” Very funny…but maybe you had to be there.

  43. Elvira Black

    “Jewtastic will circumcise the old ideas…”?!?
    Who writes their copy–Pat Robertson?

    Which reminds me: have you heard the one about the moyl who saved the foreskins after each bris and made them into wallets? When you rubbed them, they turned into suitcases.

  44. Anne

    Thank goodness we have you to lead us into battle in the War on Christmas. Our own Neil Maccabbee! At least we’ll die laughing.

  45. Neil

    By the way, this Jew IS lousy at sports — and damn proud of it! Asian friends, get ready — you’re next.

  46. boba

    there is no way kruchoff is bigger than stephanie klein. she’s got a mega buck book deal that includes a sitcom pilot, no? but he’s a well known name in the gawker-centric new york blogger scene which some find amusing even if it’s often nauseatingly incestuous. he had his own blog the “other page” for a long time before becoming gawker’s first perennial guest-editor and resident “data dump” stats guy. he also started gothamist’s daily interview feature. one of the few people who produced “original” content on a regular basis instead of ranting commentary about news stories, though it looks like he eventually fell prey to that blogging trap like everyone else.

  47. Jack

    Listen, everyone knows that Chanukah sucks compared to Christmas.

    Feh, this is rubbish. The two holidays are not equivalent and frankly if I had to choose between watching a fat overstuffed pedophile in a red suit or a group of warriors at play, give me the gladiator every time.

    All I have to say is Happy Holidays.

  48. Lauren

    Neil, you get me so aroused when you use swear words in your posts. I had to take a cold shower after the “Fucking trendy Jews” line.

  49. Brooke

    Does this mean I have to start jewish boys? My mom will be so happy.

  50. Brooke

    Start dating jewish boys. See that? I can’t even say it.

  51. akaky

    And really, how can Klein lord it over Kruchoff? Kruchoff’s ancestors were able to afford a name. Ever wonder why there are so many Kleins and Schwartzes, Weisses and Grosses amongst the Jewish community? When the Austrians passed their laws officially tolerating Jews back in the 18th century they ordered that all Jews had to take a real last name instead of a patrynomic. If you had a bit of money you could afford a good name, like Stone Mountain (Steinberg) or Morning Star (Morgenstern). Sometimes the officials would give you one just for a laugh; how else do you explain Songbird (Spielvogel)? But in the main, if you didnt have money, you got assigned a name based on your physical characteristics: Black (Schwartz) White (Weiss) Big (Gross) or Small (Klein). Kruchoff has a name based on a place, I think; Klein has a hand me down moniker designed for the Jewish underclass.

  52. Sophia

    Akaky, you never cease to amaze me.

  53. TM

    Akaky, do you have a source for that info, by any chance? Very interesting.

  54. Tanisha

    Thats a great post Neil,
    I was just about to write a post on being black as trendy and the stereotypes. You beat me to it. Although, I still will. Someone called me a racist on my blog and in the same breath told me I was ashamed of being black.. hmm interesting.. Anyhow, Schmendric eh. I may have to steal that term..LOL

    Merry Christmas I mean Happy Chanukah..

  55. Laura

    Sure I leave you alone in here for a day, come back and there are not only 56 comments to a post that made me laugh my ass off, there’s a RETRACTION!

  56. krucoff

    i have no idea what anybody is talking about here. (i apologize, i only read the sentences that include my name.)

    i’m just in it for the free booze. blogging is community theatre to me and it’s usually more intereting when the stage manager is boning the lead’s wife.

    btw, it’s krucoff (no h) and it was originally derived from krupetsky, of the ukraine. we kill first, then ask questions about shooting.

  57. Wendy

    Neil, come spend a week in the South with me. After growing up in extraordinarily-overwhelmingly-Jewish Bergen County, NJ, I have found myself in situations like this one: Person A: So where is your christmas tree? Me: I’m Jewish. I don’t have a christmas tree. Person A: So what? Like you don’t believe in Jesus? *Shakes head, walks away*
    Oy Vey – all i’m saying

  58. Neil

    Neil: “Did you see that! Krucoff — the real big-time blogger Krucoff was here at this blog!”

    Sophia: “If he’s such a big shot, maybe he can get you a job.”

    Neil: “I’m not even sure what he does — or if he has a job.”

    Sophia: “Tell him how much you love his work.”

    Neil: “I don’t know his work.”

    Sophia: “Fake it. You know, how I used to do in the bedroom with you.”

  59. Memphis Steve

    Madonna is insisting on being called “Esther?!” Are you being serious about that? Can we just call her “Whore Bitch” instead?

    Now you make me ashamed of my FuJew T-shirt that I created to sell on my blog. Yeah, and I wasn’t even trying to be trendy. I was just making fun of FUBU and the new “by women for women” crap out there. I swear. I even had an orthodox Jewish friend check it out first. It’s not trendy. Really.

    Well, I guess NOW it is, but it wasn’t at the time.

  60. mcaryeh

    “Welcome, Jewish friend. Welcome to Walmart. The Tony Hawk Chanukah dreidels are in aisle five, in between the Sarah Silverman menorah set and the “Story of the Maccabees,” as read by Dame Jew-dy Densch.”

    Is it really wrong that this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever?

  61. haha

    Hey i think Michael Jackson is at war with the “MASONIC JEWS”

  62. eeekat

    holy crap, this was funny

  63. Mordechai

    the story and comments really drive home the point that as a people, we really want to be part of the majority and are frustrated by the fact that we are not. between physical features, mannerisms, lifestyle, etc and some not so desirable traits, we will never be mainstream. jewtastic is just another fad…

  64. Felipe

    Grettings from Chile southAmerica.
    Me he reído de buena gana con vuestro post.

    Mi kehilá chiliani es podrisíma en jewish humour.

    Todá raba


  65. Neil

    Buenos dias, Felipe from Chile!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial