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Gentile Guilt Vs. Jewish Guilt

Gentile Guilt Vs. Jewish Guilt

Believe it or not, Jews don’t have a monopoly on guilt.

by and

We Jews are known for being guilt-mavens. If we didn’t actually write the book, most of us could create an app, a video, and go on a lecture tour. However, does it follow that not being Jewish means you get a guilt pass? When it comes to guilt, both Jews and Gentiles get it, feel it, and give it, ah, but in our own special way and often over very different things.

Since I’ve never been not Jewish, to insure I’d be an equal opportunity “stereotyper,” I wrote this with the assistance of a brilliant young menteree, Robin from Cleveland, who is Russian Orthodox which does mean we share guilt over hating Borscht.


When Jews have stress, we announce: “OY DO I HAVE STRESS.” More, we may feel guilty not sharing the news with family, friends, or people in the elevator. After all, they could think our moaning is about them, so not to give them guilt, it’s better to say: “Hi you two. I’m in 4B. You may be wondering why I’m moaning. I slipped on a peach and the ER bandaged it. Here. Look. By all means return to your conversation. I just didn’t want you to worry maybe you did something wrong.”

Gentiles consider stress “all in your mind” – a weakness that when expressed is intrusion and can therefore lead to guilt. For example, say your husband’s been arrested for embezzlement. Chances are his wife will say: “Everything’s just fine. By the way, have I shown you my Danbury Mint duck plate?” Some Gentiles have been known to suffer from extreme migraines, ulcerative colitis, and a fondness for multiple martinis. Some think there’s a relationship.


Jews measure the success of a meal if plotzing people have to be helped to their cars. Food is love. Massive food is a love-in. “Irving, only three helpings? I knew the brisket was dry!” To avoid offending, the guilty guest stuffs himself enough meat to cater a Bar Mitzvah. More, should the invitee have brought, say, cookies, the proper Jewish hostess will say: “Dessert? Thanks darling, but we didn’t need. So you take it home.” If the guest shyly refuses, the X-treme hostess will plant the cookies on his person.

Gentiles make “portions.” Seven guests, seven slices of veal. God forbid a starving guest should crave two slices, the mere idea of wanting, never mind asking, throws many a Gentile into such a state of guiltoses, they’ll enter the hostess in a Fruit of the Month club. The same applies to taking home leftovers, including stuff you brought. Should hunger throw you into confusion and you ask for your used six-pack back you may hear: “Oh … um … well … um … Tim already put it in the extra fridge in the basement, but … we can look for it … if you’d like,” all of which will add to your “I’m a terrible person” feeling which of course, you can’t share with anyone because you’re Gentile.


Jews love the idea of jury duty. We adore the American ideal of service to our country, never mind putting away people who might climb in our window in August wearing ski masks. But do We Jews have time to actually serve on one, sitting in a farshtinkener room for hours with lawyers talking at us, and debating the death penalty? Or worse, maybe get stuck in a hotel for five nights with a stranger who hasn’t yet learned the subtleties of personal hygiene? Every Jew I know dials a number, talks to an Irving, and Boom! Irving agrees they shouldn’t feel guilty as they’ve got “undue hardship.” Which of course is true, especially if the painters are coming.

Gentiles also love the idea of jury duty. Of course the mashed potatoes, peas, and meatloaf in compartmentalized containers, the free stay at Motel 99 and getting paid not to work isn’t a bad deal either. Chances are, even if they had “Irving’s” number, the guilt would fill them with such shame, they’d re-schedule their bypass operation so God forbid, they shouldn’t be thought of as lousy Americans.

4) CARS:

Jews like cars – who doesn’t, but we feel it’s none of our business what’s under the hood. Besides, if we looked, would we know what we’re looking at anyway? Hey, we paid 47 grand for this metzia so it better work. Should, God forbid, it break down, We Jews will feel guilty if we don’t know a mechanic who will get to us within 10 minutes so the smoke or tire explosion doesn’t panic our passengers.

Gentiles often are their cars. Many feel “If I have a car, I should know how to put together a diesel engine in less than 20 minutes.” Any inability to fix a 20 year-old beater is not only unmanly, but throws the Gentile male into a depression (he can’t discuss) brought about by EI (Engine Ignorance). In desperate circumstances, a Gentile may call his father and talk about sprockets.


Jews want second, third, and fourth opinions from professionals. Should, for example, a Jewish doctor say we have a chest sprain, we want to see the X-ray, get a long medical name for what’s wrong, have another doctor examine us, and also ask what else they found. More, We Jews take names of everyone in Ultra Care. If, God forbid, we don’t ask enough questions, he or she may have forgotten something … and the guilt of not being thorough haunts us till death.

Gentiles often want to know “the bottom line” without details. If the doctor says: “You have chronic pervasive anodeathonomia … which makes you fall down with mysterious twitches,” many Gentiles will say: “Ok doc, thank you.” And when picking up the meds? “You were prescribed LanaxLosealimb. Now, do you want to talk to the pharmacist about side effects, which include, low blood pressure, seizures and a pervasive body rash which can lead to coma?” Many guilty Gentiles will say, “Nah. If ‘the doctor’ prescribed it, I’m sure it’s safe.”

May 30, 2015

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Visitor Comments: 10

(6) Julia Meyer, June 6, 2015 3:28 AM

It seems your Orthodox coconspirator has never had Italian, Greek or Polish friends to dine with. I've waddled away from dinners in homes of all three ethnicities - they all believe food is love and make sure you take enough home to remind you of that for days.

Anonymous, June 8, 2015 12:07 AM

Of course you're right.

I should have said "WASP" -- but then I'd be called out on "Political Incorrectness:)



(5) Anonymous, June 3, 2015 7:49 AM

Not all non-Jews have the same guilt programming

OY, cmon, how can one Russian Orthodox junior babushka from Cleveland represent the entire non-Jewish world in anything, let alone something as multi-faceted as guilt. For one thing, the thinking of many non-Jews on some guilt issues is identical to ours. What's the difference between "Mangia, mangia," from any Roman Catholic Italian countrywoman and "Ess, ess, mein kind" from the nearest bubbe down the block? Did you never see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? How about Buddhists, who take a dim view of guilt as most likely a failure to understand the true aspect of a situation and potentially a form of egotism? Or the common differentiation between guilt as essentially Catholic and after the fact ("What am I going to tell the priest now?") from worry as fundamentally Jewish and before the fact ("Feh, what's done is done."). On that last one, I remember a Catholic neighbor in when I was growing up in a place without a lot of Jews or Catholics who told me that at the end of confession, the priest always said, "Now go and sin some more." I didn't learn otherwise until I was in college -- and a Lutheran classmate said I should feel guilty for not knowing better.

MARNIE, the author, June 8, 2015 12:05 AM

You're right.

I should have said "ethnic." But of course, this is humor, and not meant to be a study:)



(4) Rosewood11, June 2, 2015 8:05 PM

Gentiles eat seconds--lots of seconds!!!

I grew up Baptist and became Catholic as an adult. In all my years (62), I doubt I've been to a church function besides the Sunday morning service that didn't involve stuffing my face!!! Now, most Baptists are pretty pro-Jewish/Israel, so Jewish people and their customs were not generally talked about negatively, but the Catholics were another matter. Catholics drank (alcohol!!!), they went to movies, they danced--all prohibited by the "Dozen Don'ts" (and y'all thought 10 was a lot!!!). One Sunday morning our Sunday School teacher was getting down on all these Catholic misbehaviors, and I got disgusted. When he got to gluttony, it was a case of "preacher had quit preaching, and went to meddling!!!" I started adding up all the occasions we met, and how many times we stuffed ourselves in the name of the Lord. Allowing for just 5 occasions like weddings and missionary visits (we had to feed them, of course), I came up with at least 127 times a year we Baptists chowed down as part of a service/meeting. I told the teacher, "Say what you will about Catholics and their dancing, but at least they're moving." It didn't go over well.

The moral of the story is should we ever be blessed to have a Jewish visitor come to our churches for something, COME HUNGRY!!! After all, as you can see from the story, eating is about all we have left for an activity!!!

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