In this New York Times article, Cynthia Baker’s Jew provides the foundation for a deep-dive into the fraught cultural history of the word. From President Trump’s Easter address to Louis C.K.’s stand-up routine, Mark Oppenheimer makes a strong case for why now is the time for Jewish people to reclaim “Jew.”
From the NY Times:
As Cynthia M. Baker points out in “Jew,” her book about the word, Jews have “not, in fact, owned the word ‘Jew’ or controlled the discourse about it — or even much used the term — for most of the past 2,000 years.” It was Christians who talked about “Jews,” while our preferred term for ourselves was “Israelite” or “Hebrew.” But those terms are now antiquated, and unlikely to be revived in that form: The founding of the State of Israel and the rebirth of the Hebrew language have given those words other connotations.
So it’s time for us to own “Jew.” We can do so by using the word more ourselves, and by giving everyone else permission to call Jews Jews. We can rescue, as Louis C. K. would say, the “polite thing” from the slur. Jews are what we are, after all, and the anti-Semites shouldn’t be the only ones saying so.