FIRST PART OF A
BY RABBI MITCHELL WOHLBERG
MARCH 1, 2003
"This morning I want to talk to you about money.
The truth of the matter is, it is highly unlikely that one would ever hear a priest begin a sermon with those words. It was Jesus who taught in the New Testament that the chances of a wealthy person getting into heaven was like that of a camel passing through the eye of a needle.
In the church the religious leader takes a vow of poverty. No religious leader in Judaism takes such a vow. God forbid! It might work out that way, but not as religious requirement. And certainly not for me … thanks to you.
No, there’s a vastly different attitude within Christianity and Judaism when it comes to money. Perhaps best expressed in the sign hanging over a Jewish-owned bank: “Jesus saves - Moses invests!”
The fact is, in the eyes of the world Jews have always been associated with money - usually in a negative sense. Every known language has its own disparaging slurs associating Jews with money:
- In Spanish, it is said, “A real Jew will get gold out of straw.”
- The Polish one is, “Bargain like a Jew but pay like a Christian.”
- For the Hungarians it is, “Money is the God of the Jews.”
- Our good old friends, the Germans, say: “The interest rate of a Jew and the price of a prostitute are both very high.”
- In America they are kinder, they just talk of “Jewing you down.”
Many of these statements are based on envy, with history showing that down through the ages our people have had a higher rate of financial success than most other ethnic groups. And credit for this, to some degree, must be given to both the Jewish and Christian traditions.
The Jewish tradition of teaching children Talmud at an early age made things like interest rates and futures and options and stocks more than abstracts. They were concepts that Jews were taught to understand from childhood.
As to the Christians, in the Middle Ages the Jews were forbidden by the Church to own land, so they were forced to turn to money lending in order to survive. Since the Jews were damned and money was damned, the Church concluded that a marriage of the two was entirely fitting and appropriate.
With Jews being denied entry by the Church into guilds, there was little else for our people to do but become doctors or lawyers … the brilliant ones, rabbis!
So our association with money goes way back in time. Nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be ashamed when 21 Jews have been winners of the Nobel Prize in economics. We are 0.25% of the world’s population, but we’ve won 41% of the world’s total Nobel Prizes in economics!"
(Just thought I'd share ~christine)
So okay, to lighten things up but still remain in the same area...
Gems from overheardnyc ~
Girl on cell: I must've gained, like, 10 pounds after the two Passover seders I went to...and I still have Easter dinner to worry about!...What? No, I'm not having a religious identity crisis!
--14th & University
Overheard by: Amelia D
Girl: So what's with the 40 days of Lent thing?
Guy: Jesus walked the Earth for 40 days after resurrection.
Girl: Oh! So he was like a zombie! That's so cool!
--118th & Broadway
Overheard by: a catholic
Guy: I'm gonna go over to D'Ag and get some groceries.
Girl: I think it's closed.
Guy: Ugh! I forgot the whole world is in church today.
Girl: Shut up, you Jew.
--Greenwich Hotel elevator, Greenwich Street
Overheard by: Jen C.
Chick on cell: You ate pizza on the first fucking night of Passover? Jesus Christ, you're a bad Jew!
--Marcy Avenue station
Overheard by: katie, a princess
Mom: But it's Easter!
Chick: I'm not religious.
Mom: Yes, you are.
Chick: Plus, I've already been to two seders this week: one on Wednesday and one on Thursday. We made latkes, they were really good!
Mom: Yeah, and you also made those potato pancake things.
--Paprika, St. Marks Place
Overheard by: lish
Girl #1: I am, like, so sick of eating matzah!
Girl #2: I'm not Jewish, but I like to eat it.
Girl #1: Do you know why the Jews eat matzah at passover?
Girl #2: I think it's, like, because the Jews were baking bread when the Nazis came and they didn't have time to wait for it to cook, right?
--Hotel Gansevoort lobby, Meatpacking District
Overheard by: Cynthia Z
Chick: Come to think of it, all of my Jewish friends went to summer camp. Isn't that kind of ironic though; Jews at camp?
--Fordham University, Lincoln Center
Overheard by: Amanda
Jewess: That's the third time you mentioned Jews. What's wrong with Jews?
Goy: They are demanding, confrontational, and have a hard time telling the truth. What religion are you, anyway?
Overheard by: J. Peter Jones
Old woman: You know I love them Jews.
Guy: How do you know I'm a Jew?
Old woman: You took the seat like a Jew.
Guy: How does a Jew take a seat?
Overheard by: Max Ravyn
Jewish guy: You know, all the famous people are Jewish, like Einstein, and--
Black guy: Man, shut the fuck up, what the fuck is wrong with you? Ain't you ever heard of Martin Luther King, Jr.? He ain't Jewish; hell, that motherfucker ain't even white. Jesus Fucking Christ!
Jewish guy: Very good! Jesus Christ!
Overheard by: Ting
Lady lawyer: This is a disaster. They should never put non-Jews in charge of the catering.
--Office, Rockefeller Plaza
Teen boy: I want to be Jewish when I grow up.
Overheard by: drewseph
Guy on cell: You deserve a gold Jewish Star of David!...Did you swallow?...Yeah, that's true, one step at a time.
Overheard by: SEM
More "Overheard In New York" kosherisms
My personal favorite line:
"Jesus Christ, you're a bad Jew!"