Anti-Semites ‘R Us

There was an article the other week in The Times that included some information about an all time favorite subject of mine: anti-Semitism.  Not the veiled kind, but the good old-fashioned bigoted,  no-holds-barred, full-throated virulent kind.  And to further add to my delight, the article touched on some episodes in my favorite period of anti-Semitism, the 1930’s.  What I like most about that era is, that it was a time when it wasn’t the stigma it is today to dabble in anti-Semitism; so it’s a lot easier to see who’s who and what’s what.  Kind of like listening to anti-Semitism unplugged.  Or better yet, watching anti-Semites Gone Wild.

The article was mainly about the history of Jews in the medical field through the centuries. An interesting tidbit that the author brought up was a reference to a papal edict of 1598 (which reaffirmed those of previous popes) that prohibited Jewish doctors from treating Christians.  Or, for Christians to seek treatment from Jews, for that matter.  With one major exception: almost every pope in history has had a personal physician who was Jewish.  Talk about chutzpah!   What the article didn’t mention was that every pope’s lawyer has also been Jewish.  Ditto for their accountants.  (Their dentists were a mixed bag…the ones from NYU School of Dentistry usually were Jewish…the others not so much so.)

But, to get back to the thrilling ’30s.  According to the article, in the early part of the twentieth century one-half of the doctors in Berlin were Jewish; 60% of the ones in Vienna and a whopping 70% of all the doctors in Warsaw. This is the kind of statistic that gets my Judenfreude going.    (Amazingly, the waiting times in  the offices in each of these disparate cities was uniformly about an hour and a half.  Some things don’t change.)  But gradually, throughout the ’30s these numbers greatly diminished and/or many Jews went into the fields of psychiatry and psychology.  Almost as if  they were preparing to emigrate to the Upper West Side.

Even here, in the good old USA, things started to go badly throughout the 30’s.  Quotas limiting the number of Jewish attendees started to be implemented at many medical schools.  For example, in 1920 one half of the students attending the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University were Jewish; by 1938 that proportion number had fallen to 5%.  And that was Columbia for god’s sake!  Right here in New York City.  I can only imagine  how things were going for us in Wichita!

This, of course, wasn’t going to stop the pressure Jewish mothers were putting on their sons to become doctors.   So according to the article, what happened at this point was that a lot of young Jewish men found themselves going to medical school in Scotland, of all places. (Apparently, the Scottish didn’t care or didn’t know what a Jew was.) This is the reason for the mild brogue you probably remember hearing in your childhood doctors’ voices. For me, it finally explains why my father loved drinking Scotch so much.  Although he wasn’t a doctor, it was obviously his way of showing a solidarity with his brethren whom had suffered through a difficult period.  And being the man that he was, he tried to show that solidarity almost each and every evening.

Pope Benedict greeting his internist, dermatologist, lawyer, accountant, financial planner and life coach.


6 Responses to “Anti-Semites ‘R Us”

  1. RB Says:

    Oy Vey. What you’ve written is so believable and at the same time so fucking crazy that it staggers me. It’s just about leavng me laughing and crying at the same time.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      rich…come on, a lot of this is old news. you must be living a very cloistered life there in oakland…or a very goyish one. wake up and smell the vodka.

      love to everyone

  2. Jackie Weisberg Says:


  3. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    hi jackie… i know i’m missing some reference to eggs here. eggsactly what it is, i don’t know. forgive me.

    see you soon.

  4. sister Says:

    neil, you are SO funny! ( and you know i don’t take my capitals lightly.)

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      if you really love me, you wouldn’t reveal that you’re MY SISTER! compliments (albeit in CAPS) from blood relatives can be viewed as simply a way to find one’s way into my will. (btw, now i’m leaving you EVERYTHING!)

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