An Open Letter to the Jews in My Hometown

Image by: Jason Weinberg

Dear Jews in My Hometown,

I know you mean well, but please refrain from asking me these five small, yet horrible words: “So, what do you do?” When you ask me that, it sends shock waves to my self-esteem’s last remaining shreds of dignity. If I tell you what I do for a living, you will judge me and think, “There must be something seriously wrong with her.”

I really don’t want to tell you that I moved back to my home town a year ago or why. And I definitely don’t want to tell you what I do for a living either. I can assure you that what I’m doing is the best that I can. I’m sorry if I’m not what you consider to be a success.

I work in a restaurant. I sling drinks, wine, and food. And I am damn good at it too! But I know it’s not impressive enough for you. Yes, I’m single and childless and 35 years old. No, I don’t own any property. I know your children are successful, breeding, contributing members of society and you think I’m scum. It’s palpable.

What you don’t know is when you ask me those five words, I sure as fuck don’t want to talk about it. Do I really need to tell you? I don’t ask you what you do for a living or if you’re currently fucking someone. It’s none of my business and I keep it that way.

If you really need to know, I wait tables to pay for the roof over my head, my car payments, and student loans. No one else is going to support me. I’m doing the best that I can.

Wonder why I work such a low-class job? It’s because no one will hire my art historian ass! Sure, every museum and gallery wants me to work– for free! Well, free doesn’t pay for shit.

I’m not married because frankly, I don’t intend to make vows to some fuckhead douchebag so I can give birth to the next generation of shithead kids, whose parents’ marriage will ultimately end in divorce.

Please accept my apologies if I came across as rude. I was trying to avoid you. Even though you said I was pretty, it doesn’t make up for your judging eyes. I thought God was the only one doing that on the High Holy Days.

Shana tova, fuckers.


[Name withheld]

What do you think?

About The Author


The international media conspiracy and/or the new Jew review. Take your pick.

19 Responses

  1. clincher

    Everybody starts somewhere, and alot of us will occasionally have to start over again (and again…). It’s only as much of a stigma as we allow it to be. My grandfather started over in Chicago as a truck driver for a bakery. No unemployment benefits for me when my business went under, but I’m breaking even while I work up another one. Enjoy the fuck out of life and to hell with anyone else’s narrow judgements. Peace, Love & Laughs!

  2. pushmataha

    Thank you! I’ve had to fend off those questions for a year now, because no one will hire this particular librarian (with a Ph.D.!) for more than part-time work. (I am childless as well, in my late 30’s, and my lack of a full-time job pretty much caused my divorce.) I’ve been eeking out a living playing poker, tutoring kids, doing a bit of IT work, and all sort of other things. It’s hard. I wish I could visit your restaurant and tip the hell out of you. Keep up the fight, and don’t let the bastards get you down. You are not alone. I’ll bet you’re a good art historian, with talent and knowledge and personal drive and all. I hope you find work doing that, or doing something else you love.

  3. Elan

    I say let them judge you. Don’t hide from it. Don’t even be angry at them for asking. Pity them.

    Look them square in the eye and say proudly “I wait tables for a living.”

    Let them squirm. They want to see the shame in your eyes. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

    When they ask you about marriage, say with equal pride “I have no intention of ever getting married or having kids.”

    And let them walk away from you thinking you are the nuttiest freak on the planet. Let them think there IS something wrong with you.

    Because from their perspective, there is.

    Then go back to living your life.

  4. Amaznjohn

    I say that you should’ve thought about the idea that the job market for an “Art Historian” is not very large. Go back to school and get learn a real trade. If not, then you reap what you sow.

  5. Abigail

    @Amaznjohn I suggest you take a look at the Arts and Economic Prosperity report before you claim the irrelevance of Art History & Education. It is a real trade. Perhaps if someone took the time to teach you the value of an Arts Education, you and others like yourself wouldn’t be so quick to cut funding (ie jobs for Arts Historians.) What is it that you do again?

  6. Bernard Mendelbaum
    Bernard Mendelbaum

    AMAZNJOHN, perhaps you don’t realize this, but the economy is in the shitter, and has been devolving for some time. Feel free to at least feign some compassion for those who might not be doing as well as yourself. Or at least, try not to be a complete jerk about it. And lastly, please see the helpful pic at the top of this post.

  7. Puck

    I was a linedancing waiter through Uni, and I got a Political Science degree…tis nothing to be ashamed of. Art history would be a fascinating field.
    Learning is, I think, its own reward….not just a fast track to a cushy job and a big pay packet.
    And yay for being single, the world be overpopulated anyway XD

  8. Jeff Nero

    Dont worry about what outher people think, they usually dont and if they do its not worth much.A better world is built by people who can make a better thing out of what they have and enjoy the trip as well.Be great at what you do and enjoy it for what it is, look for oppertunitys to enjoy life.

  9. NorahJones

    @ AMAZNJOHN – Art is what Jenna loves and breathes. If you’re stupid enough not to understand that, then you’re the very type of person she’s pissing on in this blog.

    How delightfully apropos.

  10. Guess

    I think you should grow up and stop blaming the people who ask you questions because they’re interested in your success… You dont think the non tribesters care about you do you? You have aspirations but haven’t reached them yet… Join the club and quit boo hooing
    You’re better than that

  11. Cartouche

    I agree… You’re better than that. It’s one thing to take on the Socratic cause of the gadfly & critique the Jewish community for its material myopia, but to do so in a self-indulgent rant (full of expletives) undermines its cause, and you lower yourself to the same judgmental level of those you critique :( You’re better than that!

  12. HROY

    I hate the whole “What do you do?” line. First, my job doesn’t define who I am as a person. Do you really want to listen to the list of things that I do that make me relevant? My big problem…I haven’t been able to have a “real job” since 2006 because of my health. I don’t even want to go there trying to explain it. It’s really none of your business. What do I do…I try to make ends meet on my husband’s salary alone…I help support my family by doing the things that need to be done during business hours…I give my time to my community, which can be worth more than giving money. So next time someone asks, I hope they have the time to listen. Keep living the life you need to so you can get to the life you want!

  13. Goodbye Columbus

    Boy, you really have a chip on your shoulder. Is your self-esteem that low? We all make choices in life. You have chosen to move home, sling drinks/wait tables, and remain childless and unmarried. Who cares what anyone thinks of your decisions? They are your decisions. If anyone judges you for that, who cares. I suspect most of them are either trying to make conversation with you or are interested in your life, as a person. I also doubt that these questions are only from Jews (unless you live in a shtetl). Lighten up.

  14. Paul

    Oh Waaaaaaa! You mean you REALLY had no idea there was no market for art historians? Stop hating yourself, get off you butt and learn something which stands a chance of earning yourself a living.
    BTW– why is this addressed to the Jews in your town? Has no gentile ever asked you “what do you do?”?
    Good thing you don’t want to get married, because I can’t imagine what guy (or woman if that’s your preference) would want to marry a whiny, antagonistic person like you. Shanah Tovah to you too.

  15. VancouverJoe

    This reminds me of the abortion debate. Some Jewish mothers just don’t consider the fetus to be viable until after it graduates medical school. :-)
    The rest of use will have to content ourselves with remaining abortive tissue I suppose …

  16. Jeff

    @Amaznjohn: “I say that you should’ve thought about the idea that the job market for an “Art Historian” is not very large. Go back to school and get learn a real trade. If not, then you reap what you sow.”

    @Paul: “Oh Waaaaaaa! You mean you REALLY had no idea there was no market for art historians? Stop hating yourself, get off you butt and learn something which stands a chance of earning yourself a living.”

    Fuck you guys. Seriously, just fuck you. My sincere prayer for the coming year is that the economy knocks you on your (presumably) successful yuppie asses.

    Jenna, my sympathies. I hate being asked as well. Your story is another bit of fuel for my ongoing argument that the American Jewish community (indeed, humanity as a whole) is unsalvageable.

  17. Sandy

    I think you’re my new hero! My dad was a mailman, and don’t think the Temple machers ever let him forget it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.