11 September 2007

"That Term is Not Currently Favored..."

My sister recently converted to Judaism—an event that was broached tactfully by my parents and sister to my grandfather, an elderly and old-fashioned gentleman. Tonight at dinner, my grandfather says, "So is Jane a Jewess now?" The rest of the dinner party remained silent, grasping for the correct answer until I tell him, "that term is not currently favored....I think people prefer 'Jew.'"
"But what do you call a male Jewish person?"
"A Jew."
"So you would call a female Jew a Jewess."
"No," I say, "No more than you would call a female Christian a Christianette."

In the end, Grandpa was not satisfied with our answer that, for some unknown reason, the female form of the word "Jew" was offensive.

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