Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Meet the New Jews

Not quite the same as the Old Jews

Print Email

Generally, articles about Asian-Americans as “the New Jews”—the ethnic group that works hard, is academically successful, and generation-by-generation is realizing the American Dream—are written by Jews (see here and here, for example). So it’s cool to see Jeff Yang, writer of the San Francisco Gate’s Asian Pop column, discuss the connection from the Asian-American perspective.

Yang’s piece is about education:

nowhere is the shared arc of the Asian and Jewish American journey so clear as in the area of education, that paramount priority of both communities. The story of parents toiling to create academic opportunity for their offspring (and using guilt, bribery and punishment to ensure that those kids take advantage of it) is the same whether its narrator is named Josh Li or Joshua Leibowitz.

He bemoans informal quotas at top universities, of the type that targeted Jews a half-century ago, and notes that admissions policies that favor legacies inherently work against Asian-American advancement, instead instilling “demographic inertia” (great phrase).

Yang is equally keen on the differences between New Jews (Asian-Americans) and Old Jews (Jews). It’s not just that Jews, having had more time, are now less the ethnic group being kept out of the mainstream and more in the mainstream (as many as 30 percent of all Ivy League students are Jewish). The stereotypes of the two groups are also different:

The caricature of the one-dimensional, passive, hard-working but personality-free Asian American is indeed hard to reconcile with Jewish stereotypes; as one Jewish friend commented, “Even the most anti-Semitic depictions of Jews never make us seem boring.”

So best of luck to the New Jews. (And to the Old Jews too, of course.)

The Asian-Jewish Connection: Is It Really Kosher To Call Asians ‘The New Jews’? [SF Gate]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Seriously? This is news?


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Meet the New Jews

Not quite the same as the Old Jews

More on Tablet:

Rediscovering the First Woman Rabbi

By Laura Geller — Ordained in 1935, Regina Jonas died at Auschwitz. Now, she’s being honored.