Of Dogs and Jews (and Lena Dunham Too)

A stale New Yorker quiz prompts stale accusations of anti-Semitism. More interesting is the trope of the canine Jew.

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Observation
April 2 2015
About the author

Ruth R. Wisse is a research professor at Harvard and a distinguished senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund. Her most recent book is No Joke: Making Jewish Humor (2013, paperback 2015).


Lena Dunham’s mock “quiz” in the March 30 issue of the New Yorker caused a stir in the always roiling Jewish precincts of Manhattan and beyond. The question, “Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?” was followed by 35 items like “He’s crazy for cream cheese,” “He doesn’t tip,” and “[He] has hair all over his body, like most males who share his background.” The premise was so flat and the satire so stale that the piece should have been prosecuted for killing comedy. Instead, it stands accused of anti-Semitism by none other than Abraham Foxman, retiring head of the Anti-Defamation League.

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More about: Arts & Culture, Heinrich Heine, Lena Dunham, New Yorker