Jewfish

Have you heard of “jewfish?”
No, I’m not referring to gefilta, schmaltz herring or lox. There’s an actual species called “jewfish!”
Interestingly, the jewfish is the largest kosher fish edible to Jews. Sounds rather Jewish to me! (And stick an “f” into “Jewish” and you get “jewFish”)
Its newer more-“culturally-sensitive” name is the “goliath grouper,” and appropriately so, as it’s one heck of a giant fish! Some jewfish grow to longer than 8 feet and as heavy as 800 lbs! Don’t mess with a jewfish! (And don’t mess with the Jews either, for that matter).
Just like their Jewish namesakes, jewfish are fond of the tropics, and congregate near the South Florida coast.
There’s even a place in the Florida Keys called “Jewfish Creek!”
However, unlike Jews, jewfish are NOT snowbirds, or maybe I should say, “snowfish.” They don’t ever migrate northward to colder Atlantic waters. They prefer to stay in the tropics year-round.
The origin of the name “jewfish” is somewhat of a mystery (kind of like how Jewish survival is a mystery too), though some speculate that it may have originally been “jawfish” due to its large mouth (reminds me of some Jewish bigmouths I know), so it might be more about semantics than Semitics.
Unlike Jews who prefer cohesive Jewish community, jewfish are solitary. Oddly, they are called “groupers” yet don’t swim in groups! In Australia, they’re called “gropers,” but jewfish don’t grope anyone either! Likewise, Jews are NOT groupies, and we certainly don’t condone groping anyone. We Jews are ashamed of recent high-profile Jewish gropers, and think they should be locked up! A shanda!
Like Jews in Israel, the jewfish defend its territory when threatened, with aggressive body language. They have been known to attack divers, and were even seen attacking large lemon sharks! As I said, don’t mess with jewfish!
Like Jews, jewfish are highly inquisitive, and fearless too, which unfortunately made them easy prey (prey, not pray) for spear fishermen.
Sadly, for this reason, jewfish are considered “critically endangered,” and harvesting them has been banned since 1990. They also reproduce very slowly, so it will still be a while till their population rises to sustainable levels, even though their numbers have been recovering substantially since the ban.

(It’s too bad, because unlike inferior “gefilta” (“poor-man’s fish”) jewfish is considered superior high-quality fish meat. Jewfish is a type of sea bass, the very largest variety!)

A Jew might not be “the biggest fish in the pond,” but the jewfish is certainly the biggest kosher fish in the sea!
However, here’s where their similarities to their human namesake ends, for unlike jewfish, Jews are NOT endangered! If anyone is in danger, it’s the enemies of the Jews!
And Jewish population is on the rise, and so is Jewish pride and identity!
So celebrate your Jewishness! (and if you’re a jewfish, then celebrate your jewfishness! 😉
Our numbers might be small, relatively speaking, but we’re the “big fish in the pond” of planet Earth.
Take a lesson from the jewfish and have NO FEAR!
In the words of our Jewish sages:
“The whole world is a very narrow bridge. The main thing is to have no fear at all!”
(Curiously, there is a bridge called the “Jewfish Bridge” in Key Largo that carries US1, connecting the Florida Keys to US mainland! A long narrow bridge indeed!)
(And since lots of Jewish Floridians traverse that bridge, it might as well be called the “Jewish Jewfish Bridge!”)
Hurray for jewfish!
About the Author
Michoel Green loves teaching & writing. Ordained in NY, he has over twenty-five years experience in Jewish outreach & education. Formerly a rabbi in Poway, California and Brisbane, Australia, he currently directs the Chabad Center in Westborough, Massachusetts. A published author, he blogs and lectures widely on themes pertaining to Torah and contemporary thought, with special emphasis on the final Redemption and its unmistakable signposts in current times.
Comments