John Brody

Jews Are Funny

Jews are funny.

That’s not meant as an insult. It’s a statement of opinion which you may agree with or disagree with after hearing the following story:

Today as I walk back from my local shopping center I pass through a door and I see an elderly, religious looking woman, perhaps in her 70’s and no taller than 4″10 heading towards the door I’m exiting, she’s about eight-nine steps away.

So I hold the door, didn’t think about it, didn’t think why, I figured 5-6 seconds of holding the door open isn’t going to do me any permanent harm and I wasn’t rushing, my groceries were still ice cold.

A moment or so later I look down at my watch and about a foot below my wrist is this old lady, now that she sees I’ve seen her she angrily spouts “Why’d you hold the door open” that sounded so heavily accented from the Bronx that you could almost believe you had been transported to New York.

Stunned I said the first thing that comes to my mind. I answered her question with my own thinking about being witty and a tad cynical.

“I’m sorry, what?”…

“Why’d you hold the door for me” at this point I no longer am trying to stifle a smile every time she says “door” and “for” in that accent. Now I’m beginning to get… Uncomfortable.

“I could have tripped when I ran”

Again I was quick to respond with wit. I said “How did you know I speak English?”

“You look American, now would you answer the question?”

I point out that at this time I am still holding the door and perhaps a dozen or so people have passed us.

“Well” I say “I saw you walking towards the door and I figured I’d hold it for you”

“And why would you do that? I was far away.”

“I know” at this point feeling flummoxed and extremely glad I had a word to describe what I was feeling at that moment. “I just was fine holding it for you for a bit.”

She began to lambaste me in her loud accented English, stomping her foot slightly to emphasize each point.

I had made her quicken her pace so that she felt she would not inconvenience me, I could have made her trip, I could have caused a calamity. Somehow both my hair and wardrobe were brought into the conversation.. Not sure why or how but she was critical of them too.

This went on for about 10 minutes. 10 minutes of my brain just trying to grasp what is happening when I see water dripping from one of the bags.

“Look Ma’am.” I said, risking everything and cutting her sentence off. “I’m sorry for causing you trouble but my groceries are thawing and I need to put them away, I’m sorry.”

She looks me straight in the eyes, I gulped, sure that she is about to hit me with the verbal equivalent of a steamroller when she suddenly smiles sweetly at me and says “Oh don’t apologize, you were being a mensch, there are so few around nowadays” and walks into the the shopping center.

…I stood there for another ten minutes recovering from shock…

On her way out she asked if I would give her my number, she had some granddaughters who needed a good Jewish boy.

…My groceries completely thawed by the time I got home…

I sat, contemplating the occurence but all I could come up with was that she had been angry that I was doing the right thing…

Knowing that didn’t help my confusion at all.

We Jews are a funny people. ..

About the Author
John Brody is an avid amateur historian based in central Israel. He is deeply interested in history, both Jewish history and World history, literature, theology, and political science.
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