Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jews and China — Studies in the other

A story from my sister, which I felt necessary for all to read and think about. She is currently doing micro-finance in rural China, in the Sichuan Provence.

The story reminds me of an article by Jonathan Sarna, entitled "The Mythical Jew' and the 'Jew next door' in 19th Century America." My sister is that "mythical Jew."

I guarantee that her stories will amuse you. I suggest you read her blog.

Let's face it, she has friends with name such as Snowy. That's amusing.

I sometimes call Baldachin "Rain," but I think we can all agree that isn't quite the same.

Snowy and I were playing a game called “live-translate these songs” which involves me trying to explain in Chinese what the lyrics in English mean. I came to the word “prayer” and made the bowing motion. She said, no no, yours is this and made the cross. I said no it's not and told them I was Jewish. This produced hilarious results. First she touched my face and said, “Well, why do you look like this?” What? I look stereotypicially Jewish, what are you asking? She then explained she thought all Jews were black, but my roommate told her she was stupid, so that's obviously not a commonly held conception. Then she started petting my arm and telling me how smart I am and that I need to teach her. This persisted for awhile until I asked her why she thought Jews were so smart. I was curious where they would learn that in China, since there are almost no Jews. She said everyone knows it, we're the smartest “min zu” (the Chinese word for ethnic group) in the world. She then looked up “smartest people in the world” on Baidu (their search engine) and the first hit was Jews. What do you know, internet confirmation. I told them all that in America we have a stereotype that Asians are really smart and every one of them said “No no, we just work hard, we're not smart. YOU are smart.” Fascinating.

No comments:

Post a Comment