Look, I know we Jews are smart as heck and show-offs when it comes to medicine, writing, inventing, entrepreneur-ship, psychology, producing, politics, filmmaking, comedy, and science. Must I go on?
I also know that we are often perceived as anxious, neurotic and compulsive about things Gentiles would never ever give a second thought.
Can you imagine Clint Eastwood worrying whether it’s more important should his mother attend her socialist club meeting she hasn’t missed in 50 years or mend your lucky interview jacket?
I also can’t imagine Eastwood seeing a psychoanalyst for decades like Woody Allen only to make comments like, “My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.”
Allen also said, “I was raised in the Jewish tradition, taught never to marry a Gentile woman, shave on a Saturday night and, most especially, never to shave a Gentile woman on a Saturday night.”
What you care to take from that one is whatever you decide to ponder endlessly over. As for myself, I could write my doctoral thesis on this quote alone.
While viewing "Annie Hall" for the 119th time in which Allen plays a sympathetic and pleasantly annoying New York Jew named Alvy Singer whose life revolves around his angst-ridden self identity. I finally decided to explore beyond cinema and television where else my Jewish tribe members may have eraned this reputation.
As a hypochondriach and perhaps even guilty at times of Shaudenfreude, I recently read an article about Asperger's Syndrome, named for a Jewish mensch of a doctor who discovered it, with the disease pleasantly described as "people who show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests."
Not exactly the worst illness I've heard, but not one I'd name after myself either, which inspired me to ask, "How many other Jewish doctors have named afflictions after themselves?" and is this really helping our fellow tribe members?
I recalled Schamberg’s Disease and Crohn's Disease from a college course, neither one so pretty a diagnoses. I won’t scare you with the descriptions; google them if you must, but try not to convince yourself you have them as I was sure of this weekend. "A lung un leber oyf der noz!"
For the file "You learn something new every day," a disease named after the person who first described the condition is known as an “eponymous” disease; which also includes publishing an article about the infliction in a respected medical journal.
This certainly can’t help, I thought. With the anti-Semitism I hear, I ask this instant that Jewish doctors think twice before naming illnesses after their surname, except if it is a good one. Can’t they simply call their findings generalized titles such as 'November's Neurosis' or 'Flatulence Fodder?'
For example, if intern Dr. Harvey Stein discovers that people who are born in Yugoslavia, talented at playing the bassoon, and every eight days experiences an episode of positive hyperactivity that lasts 44.5 hours, I could live with him naming this unfortunate illness as ‘Stein’s Syndrome.’
The epiphany came to me that perhaps “eponymous diseases” may even be one reason for much of the envy, animosity and even anti-Semitism around the world.
Metro Goldwyn Mayer and Matzo Ball Soup are okay companies and brands to be named after. The first brings to mind The Golden Age of Hollywood, and the other, well, an unbelievably delicious soup that cures the common cold. What’s not to love here?
This reminds me of a famous line Milton Berle said, “Every time a person goes into a deli and orders a pastrami on rye, somewhere a Jew dies.”
Paranoia has now set in.
Perhaps Mrs. Smith was okay with her Jewish neighbors until she learned her daughter had Asherman's Syndrome; described as “intrauterine adhesions presenting a condition characterized by the presence of adhesions or fibrosis within the uterine cavity due to scars.”
Not so appealing to Mrs. Smith, is it?
Or maybe Johnny Martin wasn’t allowed to play with his best friend Herb Glassman anymore because he had Albright-Butler-Bloomberg disease, described as “severe developmental anomalies, marked by short-limbed dwarfism affecting the lower extremities and bowing of the lower enlarged wrists and ankles, and premature loss of permanent dentition.”
And because Johnny’s mother thought he may catch it, he never had a good friend again, which caused him to have negative reactions to Jewish names and Jews ever since.
Seriously, it can’t be helping us much.
Look, everyone knows we’re geniuses when it comes to, well frankly, a lot, but haven’t we proved our intellectual prowess by now? "Genug iz Genug!"
My name is ‘Safran’, and if I were a doctor who discovered that people under the height of four feet who spoke fluent French and had dined with Rush Limbaugh in the year 1983 all shared the same chromosome, I certainly wouldn’t call it 'Safranitaphilodous’ or ‘‘Safran’s Scare.’
I would call it ‘Four-Foot Limbaugh’s Plight’ or ‘Rushin’ Roulette’s Plague.’
Hey, what about naming ourselves after the finer things in life again; like wine, delicious foods, department stores and fabulous vacations instead?
For example, wouldn’t it be great to go into a swell restaurant and order the chef’s specialty of the house known as Goldman Prius shrimp, or a fine bottle of a 1996 Weinstein or Vintage Kaufman? Even Francis Ford Coppola, an Italian-American filmmaker got smart with starting his own label.
Sorry, Manischewitz doesn’t count.
Or what about being invited on a famous 'Harold Klein Cruise' or 'Birnbaum Retreat 'while getting a 'Shwartz facial?'
My point is simple, all med students with Berg, Stein, or Traub as their name take note; You’ll get credit, I promise. . .
But don’t come crying to me if you get all eponymous on yourself and become known for your name and then make people in doctor’s offices cry and curse you.
Could you blame them?
Let’s help ourselves out a little.
I declare 2011 the year of the end of Jewish-named-diseases, and from now on, only positive discoveries.
Let’s get back to the days of positive associations like The Marx Brothers, George Gershwin, Albert Einstein and ItzhakPerlman.
Even Rodney Dangerfield once said, “My mother never breast fed me, she said she only liked me as a friend.”
This can only bring laughter without the tears of learning you have a Jewish-named disease.
God Love him.
Genug iz genug: Enough is Enough!
A lung un leber oyf der noz: Stop Talking Yourself into and Illness