Reflections Of A Not-So-Bright Jewish Kid
By Evan Allison
It wasn’t easy growing up Jewish, especially if, like me, you’re not all that bright. And it wasn’t because of anti-Semitism, of which I only recall two experiences. The first was in ninth grade when I decided to go to school on Yom Kippur. (I know you’re thinking, “What kind of idiot goes to school when he doesn’t have to?” The dimwit kind.) Anyway, with the other students thinking that all the Jewish kids were gone, I heard a lot of comments that were, shall we say, eye-opening.
The second incident that sticks in my mind was when one of my best friends came home from Sunday school, and, as soon as I saw him, he screamed, “The Jews killed Christ!” I was stunned, and didn’t have a comeback at the time.
Many years later, when I read the New testament, I learned that the Jews did, indeed, play a role in the crucifixion, but they were only doing what they were supposed to do. It was God’s plan for Jesus to die on the cross. (I actually thought about seeking out my old friend, calling him and telling him what I learned, but after 15 years even the best comeback tends to lose its effectiveness.)
But I digress. Returning to the difficulty in growing up Jewish, the main problems were due to the academic expectations. If I brought home a report card with more Bs than As, it would be a major crisis. There would be gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and wails of, “Where did we go wrong?” from my parents.
And if, God forbid, I brought home a C, well, that would be apocalyptic. My mother would immediately be on the phone to spread the horrific news. Soon, friends and relatives would descend on our home and berate me with a clear message: “Jews don’t get Cs! Those are for goyim!”
Anyway, despite my obvious shortcomings, I did pretty well, even though I was probably the dumbest Jewish student in medical school.