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Gentile Guilt Vs. Jewish Guilt

May 31, 2015 | by Robyn Morin and Marnie Winston-Macauley

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

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.”


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