The New (Jewish) Rules

If you have a weird bagel order, own it. 

Last week, The Cut kind of went off. And by “went off,” I of course mean that they published an extensive and now-viral guide of “the new rules” for etiquette in contemporary society.

Because I am incapable of staying away from discourse, I was among the many who devoured the list and subsequently discussed it on Twitter. But even as I praised rules like “You can recover from misgendering someone” and balked at ones like “Never ask someone about their nationality if you want to know their ethnicity,” I kept returning to the thought that contemporary Jewish society sometimes comes with a different set of rules. (I am also incapable of not bringing my Jewishness into everything I do.)

So, with many thanks to my colleagues at 70 Faces Media, I’ve compiled our own new (Jewish) rules for etiquette.


1. Don’t play matchmaker for your single friends/family unless you’ve been asked to.

Especially not during Yom Kippur services. People are hungry!

2. If someone does play matchmaker for you without your knowledge or consent, it’s OK to politely reject the match.

(Unless you’re actually into them.)

3. Call your parents.  

It’s truly the least you can do.

4. If you get a tattoo, don’t lie to your Jewish family about it.

And for the love of Hashem, if it’s in Hebrew and you don’t speak Hebrew, spellcheck first.

5. It’s OK to reminisce about camp with camp friends, but keep camp references to a minimum when you’re with your other friends.

No one wants to hear about a Color War from eight years ago that they didn’t participate in.

6. It’s more than acceptable to set boundaries with your family about asking you when/if you’re getting married, when/if you’re having kids, who you’re dating and if they’re Jewish, how much you’re eating, your body in general, etc.

Honestly, this applies regardless of whether or not you’re Jewish.

7. Don’t pressure your Shabbat observant friends to go out on Friday or Saturday.

There are five other days of the week!

8. Dark jokes about Jewish trauma are always acceptable — if you have that rapport with your Jewish friends.

9. All Jewish pets in a Jewish household are Jewish, and it’s acceptable to speak about them as such.

10. If you have the opportunity to throw a bark mitzvah, cat mitzvah or b-mitzvah for any other kind of pet, do it.

And if you need inspo, look here and here.

11. Complaining and kvetching is always acceptable.

12. As is arguing.

Just remember to keep things respectful.

13. Asking if a famous person is Jewish is always an excellent conversation starter.

Jews You Don’t Know

14. Never ask someone if their nose is real.

15. Don’t assume that all rabbis are men.

It’s 2023, people!

16. Don’t tell someone they look or sound Jewish (or that they don’t), however you mean it.

Because honestly, what does that even mean?!

17. Don’t assume you can play Jewish geography with everyone.

Not everyone grew up in a large Jewish community!

18. With that in mind, remember that not everyone went to summer camp or day school or participated in Jewish youth groups.

Additionally, not everyone can read Hebrew. That’s OK. Mind your own Pays and Koofs.  

19. If you’re an Ashkenazi Jew, don’t assume that other Jews are also Ashkenazi.

And if you’re Ashkenazi, certainly don’t expect Mizrahim, Sephardim, Bukharian Jews, etc. to educate you on your cultural differences. (There’s a whole internet for that!)

20. Don’t assume people’s stances on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because you will always be surprised.

If you want to talk about it, just directly ask how someone feels. If they hold different beliefs than you do, that also doesn’t make them less of a Jew or a worse Jew than you.

21. Never assume someone’s stances on God or religion.

Once again, people will surprise you!

22. Don’t ask about someone’s conversion unless they initiate the conversation. 

Plus some further thoughts from a Jew by choice.

23. If you’re approached by a Chabadnik on the street asking if you’re Jewish and you don’t want to engage, an appropriate response is: “I’m not interested, but thank you.”

Ignoring them is rude.

24. Never invalidate another Jew’s Jewishness.

It’s just not cool.


25. Always correct/speak out against antisemitism if you feel safe doing so.

26. Teaching someone about the Holocaust or other instances of violent antisemitism is never preachy.

27. Respond to someone proselytizing to you however you see fit.

(Within reason.)


28. Never show up empty handed to a Shabbat meal.

And don’t take stuff you brought back home with you. It stays with the host!

29. Don’t try to make sense of kosher rules.

That’s the job of the rabbis.

30. Make your dietary preferences and allergies clear, but don’t yuck someone else’s yum.

People who like gefilte fish are people, too.

31. It’s not rude to talk about digestion at the table.

32. Share the pickle plate. 

33. Or order your own pickle plate!

34. Don’t apologize if you don’t keep kosher. Kosher-keeping Jews care about what they eat, not what you eat. 

Unless you are their child, in which case they probably care (a lot) but whatcha gonna do.

35. If you have a weird bagel order, own it. 

For the record, anything on a cinnamon raisin bagel is a weird bagel order.

36. But if you like chocolate hummus, keep that to yourself.

37. Know exactly what you are ordering when you step up to the deli counter.

This is just common sense.

38. Always, always, always tip your meat cutter at Katz’s.

There are few gifts as great as a pastrami sandwich. Act accordingly.

39. Never order your deli sandwich on white bread. 

Be an adult, enjoy some seeded rye!

40. Contrary to popular belief, having ketchup with latkes is just fine.

Sorry not sorry that the sweetness and acidity of the ketchup pairs well with the starchiness of the potato!!!

41. Eat as much challah as you want in one sitting.

At B-Mitzvahs, Holidays, Synagogue & Other Jewish Events

42. Anyone can wear kippahs and tallises, not just cis-men.

43. If the rabbi asks you to perform an aliyah (Torah blessing), try to say yes.

Preparation might take up some of your free time, but ultimately it’ll be worth it.

44. If you’re carrying the Torah, do not drop it.

45. Go ahead, point out the passage for someone who’s lost.

But only once.

46. It’s always OK to sit down if you need to during the Amidah or other long stretches of standing during services.

Accessibility is never rude!

47. If you’re sick or recently tested positive for COVID, don’t attend services in-person.

Pikuach nefesh is the most important mitzvah.

48. Always gift in multiples of 18.


49. A Cartier bracelet is an insane gift for a bat mitzvah.

Click here for context.

50. Never embarrass someone for what they wear to synagogue, or in general. 

51. You’re never too old to have fun on the b-mitzvah dance floor. 

52. You may request one song from the b-mitzvah DJ.

Unless they’re songs by the Black Eyed Peas. Then request as many as you want.

53. Never apologize for not being able to fast, and never shame someone who chooses not to fast.

54. Dick jokes are always acceptable at a bris.

A helpful tip.

55. If you want to take the tiny cup of grape juice instead of wine for kiddush, do it.

Whether you’re sober or think the grape juice tastes better, the kiddush cups are there to be used!

56. Don’t linger at the kiddush table after filling your plate.

Back away from the table and let someone else get at the kugel.

57. It’s OK to skip the part of the seder after dinner.

Our ancestors who were freed from slavery in Egypt will surely understand you need to unbutton your pants.

58. It’s never impolite to point out or criticize systemic problems in Jewish institutions.

59. Never blow out the Shabbat candles, even if you lit them late and want to go to bed.

Either stay up or be prepared for your home to be engulfed in righteous flames.


60. There’s a word for Jews whose life experience is different than yours: Jews.

61. Don’t refer to Orthodox Jews as “religious” — it presumes non-Orthodox folk aren’t religious.

Just because some Jews are more traditionally observant than others does not mean that their version of Judaism is more valid or correct.

62. Don’t say “mazel tov” to a pregnant couple. Say “b’shaah tovah.”

Per My Jewish Learning: “In comparison to the expected, mazal tov, which is clearly purely positive, b’shaah tovah is rather more ambiguous. It can capture unbridled joy (for when you are really excited) and the concerns that should come with pregnancy (there are no guarantees).”

63. It’s Reform Judaism, not Reformed Judaism.

Our copyeditors thank you.

64. 35 years old is the cut off for calling yourself an NJB (nice Jewish boy) or NJG (nice Jewish girl). It’s always acceptable to call yourself an NJP (nice Jewish person).

Sorry, Peter Pan, after a certain point you have to cease being a boy or girl. [Editor’s note, who definitely isn’t over 35, but just feels strongly about this: Unless you’re young at heart.]

65. Only call yourself an NJB if you really are one.

Some disqualifying actions and characteristics are: lying, cheating, misogyny, lack of self-awareness and rudeness.

66. It’s never acceptable to call someone a “shiksa.”

67. It’s also never acceptable to call someone a “self-hating Jew” or a “kapo.”

Just don’t do it!

68. Never weaponize the word “goy” or “gentile.”

Just because some non-Jews weaponize the word “Jew” doesn’t mean we need to return the favor.

69. It’s time to stop using the word “JAP.”

Unless you’re Japanese and Jewish, in which case, do whatever you want.

70. There are two words in the English language that you should never say in sequence, and those words are “the” and “Jews.” Never heard someone do good after they said that

Oh wait, damn! That’s from Dave Chappelle. (It is actually good advice, though.)

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