Stereotypes of Jews are generalizations or stereotypes about Jews. Jewish people have been stereotyped throughout the centuries as scapegoats for a multitude of societal problems. Antisemitism continued throughout the centuries and reached a climax in the Third Reich during World War II. Jews are still stereotyped as greedy, nit-picky, stingy misers. They have been often shown counting money or collecting diamonds. Early films such as Cohen's Advertising Scheme (1904, silent) stereotyped Jews as "scheming merchants."[1].

In caricatures and cartoons they're often depicted having curly hair, large hook-noses, thick lips, and wearing kippahs. Common objects, phrases and traditions used to emphasize or ridicule Jewishness include bagels, playing violin, klezmer, circumcision, haggling and phrases like "Mazal Tov", "Shalom" and "Oy Vey".

Other Jewish stereotypes are the rabbi, the complaining and guilt-inflicting Jewish mother stereotype, the spoiled and materialistic Jewish-American Princess and the often meek Nice Jewish Boy.


Anti-semitic stereotypes such as the blood libel appeared in the 12th century and were associated with attacks and massacres against Jews.[2]

As enemies of Christianity and satanic consorts

As with other groups in Europe considered the enemies of Christ and Christianity during the Middle Ages, Jews often were depicted as satanic consorts,[3] or as devils themselves and "incarnation[s] of absolute evil."[4] Jews often were portrayed as menacing, hirsute, with boils, warts and other deformities, and sometimes with horns, cloven hoofs and tails.[5] Such imagery was also used in Nazi propaganda during the 1930s and 1940s.[6]



Though many stereotypes of Jews are common in Japan, they are often of a positive nature, relating to intelligence or wealth. There have been a number of books written detailing the similarities between Japanese and Jewish cultures. The Jews and the Japanese: Cultural Traits and Common Values The Jews & the Japanese: the successful outsiders


In the United States, benign stereotypes of Jews have been found to be more prevalent than images of an overtly anti-Semitic nature. [7]

Physical features

Jews, along with Arabs, are commonly caricatured as having large noses.[8] Also as with Arabs, Jews also commonly are portrayed as swarthy and hirsute. In fact, there is a brown, edible woodland fungus, Auricularia cornea commonly referred to as Hairy Jew's ear.[9]


Jewish American Princess

The Jewish American Princess or JAP has been a common stereotype of American Jewish women since the mid-20th century in contemporary US media. They are portrayed as used to privilege, materialistic and neurotic.[8] An example of the humorous use of this stereotype appears on the Frank Zappa album Sheik Yerbouti. Both male and female Jewish comedians have also made fun of the stereotype.


Jewish mothers are often stereotyped as being especially protective, proud and controlling. For example, in the television show South Park, the mother of the fictional character Kyle is stereotyped this way.

In Literature

Jewish characters, such as Fagin and Shylock, in popular works of literature, served to propagate many Jewish stereotypes.

Fagin in Oliver Twist

Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist contains the Jewish character Fagin, who is portrayed as immoral, miserly, and "disgusting" to look at. As one of the few Jewish characters in 19th century English literature, Fagin was the source of stereotyping. Fagin's character has been criticized for its anti-semitic nature.

Shylock in The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice contains the Jewish character Shylock, who is a money-lender and was often portrayed with a hooked nose and bright red wigs. Shylock's character has been criticized for its anti-semitic nature, although some interpretations of the play consider him a sympathetic figure.

See also


  1. The Movies, Race, and Ethnicity: Jews
  2. "Marginalization and expulsion", Judaism, Encyclopædia Britannica, pp. 37, 
  3. Wistrich, Robert S. Demonizing the Other: Antisemitism, Racism and Xenophobia. 1999, Taylor and Francis, publishers. ISBN 9057024977, 9789057024979. p. 54.
  4. Gerstenfeld, Manfred. "Anti-Israelism and Anti-Semitism: Common Characteristics and Motifs." Jewish Political Studies Review 19:1-2 (Spring 2007). Institute for Global Jewish Affairs, March 2007. Accessed 01-03-09.
  5. Jensen, Gary F. The Path of the Devil: Early Modern Witch Hunts. Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. ISBN 0742546977, 9780742546974. p. 156
  6. [1]
  7. "Compliments will get you nowhere: Benign Stereotypes, Prejudice and Anti-Semitism", Sociological Quarterly 37 (3): 465–479, 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Yahya R. Kamalipour, Theresa Carilli (1998), "Chapter 8 - Media Stereotypes of Jews", Cultural Diversity and the U.S. Media, pp. 99–110, ISBN 9780791439296, 
  9. Discover Nature. James Cook University.[2]


William Helmreich, The Things they Say Behind your Back: Stereotypes and the Myths Behind Them (Doubleday)

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