Jews in Fandom
“Jew Fandom is Trufandom,” a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek catchphrase, refers to the high number of Jews in fandom, much higher than in the general populace, which has been true since the sf community’s earliest days. “There are a large number of Jews,” Jack Speer commented in the National Extraction article in Fancyclopedia 1 in 1944.
Check out early prozine lettercols, the founding members of the Scienceers (the first sf club) and the names of First Fandom, not to mention those of the pros — although it’s not always obvious. (Among John W. Campbell’s less pleasant beliefs was that writers with Anglofied names would sell better, so he pressed some of his stable, such as Milton Rothman, to use pseudonyms.)
In a Live Journal discussion on February 25, 2010, Charlie Stross related an anecdote “illustrative of the invisibility of Jews ... unlike PoC we don't stand out in a mostly-white crowd”:
I was on a panel at the 2007 worldcon with three other authors. Can't remember what we were discussing, but three-quarters of the way through Robert Silverberg (for it was he) launched into an impassioned five-minute tirade about how the public perception that SF is disproportionately written by Jews is an illusion (probably caused by youthful exposure to Isaac Asimov) and that in fact he was the only Jew on the panel.
At which point Cory Doctorow and I raised our hands, Silverbob looked betrayed, then everyone's eyes turned to the (single) non-Jewish panelist.
Still, this often disregarded demographic undoubtedly accounts for a number of characteristic fannish behaviors and conversational styles. Yet they tend to be ignored or dismissed when fandom’s ethnic diversity and minority populations are discussed.
While fans of Jewish heritage are widespread, those who adhere to the religion of Judaism, like adherents of other religions in fandom, are rarer. Jewish fans range widely in their beliefs and practices, from completely secular atheists to Orthodox and observant.
The catchphrase dates to the 1980s, likely to rec.arts.sf.fandom. Inveterate punster Sam Long commented, “Fandom is oy vey of life.”
See also: SMOFTalmud.
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