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Marnie’s Guide to Unique Jewish Diseases

July 10, 2014 | by Marnie Winston-Macauley

The abbreviated dictionary of Jewish diseases.

Two acquaintances meet: Question: “How are you?”
Gentile: (CHIPPER) “Fine.”
Jew: (LIKE HE ATE BAD LIVER) “Oy, don’t ask. I’ll show you the X-Rays.”

We Jews generally don’t feel too good … or if we say we do, wait. (It won’t be long before we “share” that odd lump with you.) Face it. We Jews carry 3,500 years of “eh, could be better” in our DNA. For many of us it’s normal to assume that a splinter of the toe could be an early warning sign (Sha!). If you’ve got headache, we’ve got a migraine – or maybe worse.

I’ve done some research, and for the first time, I present you with a list of diseases, illnesses, and narishkeit that is quintessentially, totally Jewish. After all, why should I feel rotten and alone?

Illness: Delicatessence – an acute fear of hanging meat


Illness: Delicatessence. A rare, yet under-reported illness, the sufferer has an acute fear of hanging meat, slicers, and long aprons with fish stains. It is believed it starts in childhood when the hyper-sensitive kinder, after waiting two hours with mom behind 40 Jewish women at the deli for her Sunday platter, may have connected the smell of lox and bagels with Aquanet. It’s considered psychological.

Symptoms: Intermittent screaming at the sight of whitefish, kosher salami, and strange men who wear aprons or smell like chopped liver.

Illness: Challahtosis. A temporary but painful condition brought upon by the prolonged ingestion and exposure to challah, especially following Shabbat and Jewish holidays.

While normal Jews adore this delicious, traditional treat, after over-exposure, challahtosics turn into challah-philes. Whether round, braided, stuffed or unstuffed, with seeds or chocolate chips, they live for French toast, sandwiches, onion soup, turnovers, and challette treats. Even sesame bagels and lox with cream cheese can’t tempt one who is challahvied.

Symptoms: Blimpism. Goodyear has less gas. A secondary condition is JYS or Jewish Yeast Syndrome, from which they get permanent, degenerative, athlete’s foot. In the advances stage, some may even pull the challah apart and add a shmear of Nutella.

Illness: Jewmonia. A frequent ailment which is akin to what Gentiles call “a cold.”

Symptoms: We Jews know better! That so-called “cold” is just waiting to hear: “Take an aspirin” before the bacteria decide to throw a huge bash to which they invite every infection they know. It may start with a cough, a sneeze, a fever of 99, a little chill and hangs on for three whole days but a diligent Jew will take action. First she’ll ask her postman if he thinks it’s Jewmonia and should run get an X-ray. Should the postman say those words: “It’s a cold,” we then ask our plumber, the bag boy at K-Mart, the lady in the elevator at Bloomies, and should they, too, utter the same swaddle, we turn to our sister Ruthie, who recommends an MRI and CAT scan. Suddenly we feel better, proving once again, that one sick Jew can outsmart an enemy – and also ruin a party.

Illness: Pupikpartem. A chronic ailment where the sufferer becomes instantly guilty and depressed when a) separated from parents or b) from their child.

Symptoms: In both cases, the victim walks around in a general state of krechtsation, moaning and groaning, even at fun events. For example, at the Shul’s joyous production of Fiddler, one note into “Sunrise, Sunset” and you’ll hear a geshrai (a shout) of such catastrophic proportion, it could become a matter for Emergency Services. On the other hand, should the production include your child or parent, the pupikpartemic will go into such a manic state of euphoria, this, too could become a matter for Emergency Services -- even if our mother is playing a Russian constable. In extreme cases, such as separation by college or marriage, the two may link and signal by PupikApp, a small device worn in the belly-button, designed by Mrs. Rhoda Goldfarb and her son Meyer when in the Bahamas, her new daughter-in-law complained about sharing the honeymoon suite.

Illness: Monojewcleosis. A temporary ailment causing extreme exhaustion and bad mood due to years of trying to find a marriageable bashert. The condition has the unusual quality of affecting the victim’s mother and may last up to six months.

Symptoms: Intermittent depression at the sight of a) a cruise ship; b); c) Patti Stanger. Another symptom may be screaming at hearing the words “single,” “alone forever” and “knitting cat booties.” The exhaustion from the screaming makes the sufferer unable to attend any event where there may be prospects such as a JYA singles’ dance. It usually resolves itself within a month, especially when Aunt Sophie brings over that nice young Jewish doctor who removed her bunion.

Illness: Mechutonium. An ailment that affects some newlyweds upon spending a prolonged period of time with their in-laws. If the mechutonim are particularly irksome, e.g.: they’re already naming your first-born, the condition can occur following five minutes of exposure.

Symptoms: The most common resembles a type of catatonia, wherein, say, the daughter-in-law in the presence of the mechutonim, stares into nothing, becoming either a) completely unaware of voices, or b) says “Yes” a lot (even if his mother says he could’ve married an Ivanka.) Another symptom is eyelash pulling (her own). According to my research, one sufferer from Flatbush, the new Mrs. Hannah Greenbaum, invented Selective Hearing Lossers and limited Sight Lenses which she slips on when expecting a visit from the mechutonim.

And there we have it: Jew-seases. Should you do your own research and come up with more, feel free to add to our Jewish Medical Guide. The life you save may be … your cousin Hershel’s, the one with the allergy to his socks.

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