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Jumping the Gefilte

March 17, 2013 | by Marnie Winston-Macauley

Ever heard the expression “Jumping the Shark”? Now introducing…”Jumping the Gefilte!”

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Jumped the Shark phenomenon, several years ago some genius got the brilliant idea to pinpoint the exact moment a television show went from terrific (or at least okay) to … enough already with the gimmicks! Cancel! The expression comes from the fifth season premiere of the show Happy Days when character Fonzie (played by the Jewish Henry Winkler) went water skiing and jumped over a confined shark in a cartoonish desperate ratings stunt. Those were Sad Days.

Jumped the gefilte: “cutsie” Jewishy pet naming.

There are other examples as well. Whether it was a change in “Darrins” (Bewitched), a change in storylines (think sudden alien abductions), a change in ideas (“let’s bring in a precocious kid with a pisk”), or no ideas, good shows that were once hits don’t necessarily ripen with age like cheese. Sometimes they just stink.

We Jews, always at the forefront, have been known on occasion to either start trends, or take the heat anyway. Some stick, like Bloomingdale's, Ben & Jerry's, and Kosher vending machines (good things), while others, like celeb Kabbalah bling, “Too Jewish” and Jew-T’s stick in our throats after a few seasons too many.

Here are my personal picks for those ideas/trends/fads that have …


1– “Cutsie” Jewishy Pet Naming – For a while, some Jews thought it was adorable to give their pets, cutsie-but-obnoxious Jewishy monikers like Pepe Le Jew. I ask you, what can you expect from a Sheepdog you’ve shamed with “Shlepper?” Trust me, he won’t guard a sock. Or, by the time he does, your cat, “Chalaria,” will have fed it to your prized Macaw, “Meshu” (short for “Meshugener”). People they’re not, but personalities they have. Who can say with 100% certainty that a farshtinkener name can’t ruffle their little coats and feathers? Better to stick to nice normal names like Rocky.

2– Waspy Moms Based On the Jewish Mommy (JM) Stereotype – From Ida Morgenstern (Rhoda) to Bobbi Adler (Will & Grace) to both of “Fran’s” TV moms (The Nanny and Happily Divorced), We Jews can take dubious credit for creating JMs who were Queens at feeling for lumps, capturing capable basherts, criticizing your Kleenex, and adjusting crowns on their “princesses.” Is it meshugge? Absolutely. But it’s our meshuggas! OK, there’s Marie Barone, another ethnic, but now Waspy Moms have started up.

When Mad Men’s Betty Draper tells her mazik Bobby to go bang his head against a wall; when Jane Forrest (The New Normal, played by Jewish actress Ellen Barkin), carves her grand-daughter’s heart out; when we root for Jack ("30 Rock") to run over his mother, or when a Housewife of Beverly Hills (pick any) throws a Birthday bash whose cost rivals the GNP of Uruguay for a whiny 4-year-old … they’ve Jumped our Gefilte! Gentiles of the world, it’s us, and it’s over. Find your own rotten stereotypes –– like Martinis and migraines.

3– DIY Chuppahs Yes, I know making your own chuppah is a lovely, sentimental thought (much like “instead of that cruise, let’s give Tanta Zelda a belt buckle with all our names laser engraved.”) A few years ago DIY, or going back a few millennia to grind your own matzo, was forward thinking. But huge chuppahs? I read pamphlets with obscene words like: “sew,” “construct,” “quilt,” “twine,” “pattern,” “string,” “thatch,” “stencil,” “tie-die.” What I didn’t see was “shlep,” “take down,” “put up.” A few years ago I was at a wedding where the bride brought her own DIY chuppah. By the time the Rabbi put hers up and took his down, the groom took off. When it comes to weddings, you DIY’ed it enough. You found your bashert. You want to feed him gefilte, not have him run off to catch one while you’re Chuppa-weaving.

4– The Big Oreo vs. Hydrox Tsimmis. Let’s get it straight already. Hydrox came first! Oreos became kosher in 1998. Boom! This debate between the Oreonians and the Hydroxians is … stale. Besides, who would prefer a cookie with a name that sounds like a sump pump (“Marvin … the basement’s flooded! Get out the Hydrox”)! Worse, their farshtinkener ad people tried a comeback and named it … “Droxies” in 1999, going from “sump pump” to a debilitating “medical condition” only suffered by old men in Russia who retain too much Stolichnaya. Are we surprised it lasted just four years? Face it. When it comes to Hydrox, it’s Gefilte has not only jumped, it’s gone fartik! If We Jews need to hock each other, better to make it about something important such as the Latke vs. the Hamantash.

5– Jews Run Hollywood. Was it just me, or were you also sitting, mouths open (think audience during “Springtime For Hitler”) when at the 2013 Oscars hosted by Seth MacFarlane, his animated teddy bear Ted told the world that to advance his career, his real name is “Theodore Shapiro” saying: “I would like to donate money to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever. “ Oh … and he riffed those “secret synagogue meetings.” Now that’s a knee-slapper. And the winners of the Biggies? Day-Lewis, Clooney, Hathaway Ang Lee, Waltz, Terrio, Tarantino, Jennifer Lawrence (and no, she’s not), Affleck (and no he’s not). Ok, true, Grant Hezlov an Argo producer, is. But, even Jews for Jesus couldn’t get a Minyan here. Hey, MacFarlane! Goldwyn and Mayer are dead. The affront? Not only is this stereotype older than “The Jazz Singer,” not only do We Jews have enough meshugas-cliches to worry about … but worse – the joke laid such an egg, you’d couldn’t make a gefilte, never mind jump one.

So, if you, my dear readers, know a Jewish trend that now looks like those dried out spots on your gefilte … share, mamalas!

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