The Twenty-Percenter – Beyond Jewish stereotypes –

July 15, 2013 by Judy Singer
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A column dedicated to the centrality of “marginal” Jews to the Diaspora experience….

Trying to get upstairs to a session on social justice at Limmud Oz this year was like being a homing salmon swimming upstream…against a torrent of angry bears all rushing headlong towards the latest visiting overseas luminary  holding court on “The Situation” in Israel.

Judy Singer

Judy Singer

As a community we seem to be preoccupied with the vain hope that these intellectual imports will finally furnish us with the killer fact that will make the Palos drop their weapons, join the PA (Palestinians Anonymous), and humbly ask our forgiveness for how they have wronged us.

What is going on here? Are the stereotypes about us true? Are we all so rich, relaxed and comfortable that we have nothing on our minds but the endless chess game that is Israel?

Look around. The mining boom is ending, housing is unaffordable, paid work is the new Moloch. Yet there are still 5 unemployed people for every job, and  half a million Australians are unable to find full-time, permanent jobs. Job security is contracted out in 6 month blocks if you are lucky, while families struggle to plan for their future.  And the Gen08 Jewish Populations Study tells us that 1 in 5 Jews are living below the poverty line. The only competition between the Labs and Libs is over who can be the meanest single-motherfunder on the block. Our only hope is the Greens, who purport to care, except that they too seem to be more interested in the Great Chess Game. Of liberating Israel. From Us.

This occasional column will be dedicated to getting down and dirty in the Jewish bargain basement, amongst the twenty percent, the people who can’t afford to live in the east or north, the people who rely on welfare, Jewishcare, the Chai foundation to keep going, the increasingly middle-class working poor. I will be looking out for stories that are about “The Rest of Us”.  Contact me at the with your tips, testimonies and troubles. (You think you’ve got troubles??? Wait till you hear mine!!!)

BTW, please make an honest woman out of me, and bloody well cough up for your national online Jewish news service. I want to get paid, dammit. Journalism needs to be paid for. Especially if you fit the Rothschild stereotype. If not, how about giving up your monthly latte for the price of an independent news service?

About Judy Singer:
Judy Singer is a general franchise deputy of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Her special interests are housing, disability rights, and welfare rights and community development via social media. As a public housing tenant, she has represented the interests of Inner West tenants in regional government housing forums, and statewide on the Social Housing Tenants Advisory Committee. She is a Director of Shelter NSW, the state’s peak advocate for housing justice. She is the co-founder of ASTeen, a social club for teens and young adults with Asperger Syndrome. She is part of the steering committee of iwJAFA, The Inner West Jewish Community and Friends Peace Alliance,  which formed around rescinding the Marrickville BDS, and continues to be active in sustainng the inner west community as  as well as advocating for positive, co-operative people-to-people approach toward a 2-state solution.


7 Responses to “The Twenty-Percenter – Beyond Jewish stereotypes –”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    Judy, you realise that your “appeal to the children of the nation” sounds like, ” Hey fella, you have a headache, come to me, I’m your man, I am a dermatologist !!”.
    The other thought occuring connects to thet magic potion “Tkkun Olam” !! In popular opera we know it as Figaro’s cavatina ” Sonno il fac tottum della cita “.
    The snake cream you are peddling is amusing for starters and who knows if it’s a true or a false start..

    As a fussy Yid, given to controversy, I’d like a pre-emptive discssion abt. the meaning of this strange term “Tikkum Olam”.
    Translated in any language, it give course to all, and I mean ALL, those who reckon that THEY have found the magic healing answer to all those seeking something to idolise. For this genuine Judaic notion has beeen abducted so often from its carefully crafted essence and has been traversing the minds of all manner of self-appointed Universal healers.
    Real Jewish identity knows NO social status, a real NESHAMA finds its comfortable abode ANYWHERE and that does not need be a palatial splendour, quite to the contrary IT renders the careful carer of that Jewish soul the highest place of existential nobility. IT provides social justice without “class conscience” slogans. Redfern, Waterloo, Vaucluse or Dover Heights, I don’t give a damn. My soul’s real mates does not climb the barricades of “justice” for those “without a voice” for I expect everyone to bear his or her own Magen David !!!
    I do not need to be told that some drunken bugger needs protection, a defender, someone avoiding to explain to me why a whole set of societal offers of the educational kind – at least – have been vommited on in a lifetime with impunity. Guilt for someone else’s sins is, most definitely, not my kinda religious tikkun olam !!!

    FACT: our society has seen a sharp increase in extended types of social violence, coinciding with a huge increase in all sorts of “social justice” enterprises, ONG, civil groups etc. “attending” precisely these phenomena. EXPLAIN THAT !!

    Otherwise, Judy, you go for it ,girl………………

    • Judy says:

      Otto, guilty as charged :-). Admit it was sanctimonious to mention tikkun olam. Tx for keeping me on my toes :-). Peddling is of crse a traditional occupation of the Jewish poor. So?

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        So, Judy
        to mine you write real good and display a healthy, massive heart. Our poor breaks mine, but let me tell you a few things from my extended experience.
        If we talk material help of any kind, I’d rather go hungry myself than see another man suffer. Yidishkei, though, would not know hunger on account of not enough lentils for a bowl of soup. My great parents came, ALL FOUR from families with the “smallest” ELEVEN children, some of the families poor as shul mice. Their dedication to Judaism so intense that, in two cases ALL male members ended up Rabbis – just an indication, ultra Orthodox – and all females married Rabbis. Poverty as such was a given and they did not question by whom…………….On the other half all males, also from poor houselholds, ended up doctors, a few, lawyers and even engineers, poverty notwistanding.
        Your concern is noble and my witnessing the sad reality of today gives no joy.
        I am now in Bucharest and the other day I went to a function honouring a 90 year old I knew. The celebrated worked in his proffession till he was 70 and upon retirement joined the local Jewish community and helped at the top with running it. At that advanced age he decided to behave the way he felt, as a Jew.
        Next to me at the large round table sat a Yid over 85. Never met him. Out of the blue he tells me that he considers himself a Jew, but also an atheist and starts telling me how “absurd” tales of our ancestry are, serious and offending Hillul Hashem. It took me – and my style – three minutes to shut his mouth by probing into his “rationale”. I left him without replies and also left the table. I said to myself : Imagine how much damage this shlemil has caused in his long and useless life !
        So, once again, what you are doing, providing nurture of the spiritual kind, as well as the other kind of food, is necessary, generous and noble.
        Goodonya !

        • gabrielle says:

          I think it was your style Otto.
          One cannot have an exchange of ideas with a man who knows everything.

          • Otto Waldmann says:

            ..spoken so well, indeed, for what can the man barter with when he is offered gurnischt..

  2. david says:


    Why don’t you privately contact me about your troubles at and let me see if I have any answers to help you.

    • Judy says:

      That’s very kind, David! Though I was being facetious in this instance, my best solution to life’s problems is to try to make a living as a writer dedicated to Tikkun Olam.

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