‘Mendel’s Quest’, aka ‘Angry Jew’, Helped Me Embrace My Heritage


In 2014, three Israeli friends released Angry Jew, a game about a furious – but sympathetic – Jew who stays back in time until 1894 in Russia to kick Cossack shots. Originally an Android app, the latest iteration is also available in the Apple store. The little hero, Mendel, is looking to retrieve the stolen religious books – punches and spin-kicking baddies-wielding baddies while shouting “Goyim!” “Dreck!” “Gevald!” or “Sheigetz!” with a dense Yiddish accent, like me in my dreams.

When Avishai De Vries launched the game idea to his programming friends Gil Elnekave and Edo Frankel, they found it funny — and silly. “It’s the perfect trick,” Elnekave thought, but “he doesn’t have the funds to make money.” However, he believed in the talent of his friends and was looking for a side project, so he jumped on board.

The most important aspect of the game is the appearance of Mendel. He wears a shtreimel, fuzzy round fur hat worn by Orthodox Jews, and has a beard that makes Drake jealous. Her hair is black inked and her nose is gorgeous. When I was younger, I was taught that those traits were horrible – that people who looked like me, who came from similar backgrounds, weren’t heroes, we were disgusting.

Jews have used humor to deal with trauma in vaudeville, movies, books, theater. Ma Angry JewThe creators hadn’t seen it in video games. “It’s another representation of the same spiel,” De Vries said. The nephew who fights. He explained that it was the non-Jews who created this stereotype, “so I’ll take power over it.”

In my case, the stereotype was bored into me after my parents moved my family from Niskayuna, New York, where there were Jews in large numbers, to Voorheesville, New York, where I was chosen as one of the only semites in my fifth-grade class. During the 90s (and every other epic), children were (are) bad. I find it super defensive for “talking about strippers” to be normalized (I see Trump) because I’m like racist, homophobic, sexist, Islamophobic, and antisemitic is. In middle school, I had a dime in me. Once, I saw a classmate put a quarter between his thumb and ring finger and flick. The coin spun down the aisle, slipping into my closet, leaving a scar.


My family is a typical story of Jewish immigrants. My grandfather traveled to America from Poland in the early 1900s to escape pogroms and growing anti-Semitism. In New York, he went from scrap metal sales to owning his own wallpaper store, which my dad took over. After my mitzvah bar, I became the kid, schlepping cans of paint, scraping off price stickers, and dusting the shelves.

Deitcher’s Wallpaper Outlet spots were broadcast sporadically on local TV stations. My classmates walked behind me in the corridors of the high school, mocking Dad’s nasal voice from the ads: “Come to the Deitcha Wallpaper Outlet.” We’re not going to be sold. ”I despised the kids who took me, but I also hated my family, wondering how we got our way in white, white Christian America. Even though my dad worked weeks of work. of 60 hours, I also feel as if we have not earned our own success.

I tried to fight back, but I couldn’t figure out how to throw a fist that my opponent felt. In 11th grade, I invented a new way to survive: by making fun of myself before others could. I rushed for a penny in the room. I called it the Hebrew Hammer (years before the movie), the Killer Kike, and the Jewish Juggernaut, all funny because I was a shredded bean.

After graduating high school, I accepted that I was attached to my heritage. I even studied it in undergrad — while I drank every night and went outside to detox. There were several Mendels who protected me in those years, several Mendels who helped me heal after I got sober at 25. I ate Shabbat dinners. I studied Torah with me. He taught me to wrap tefillin.

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