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“The Lucky Jew”

A rhyming “poem” in Polish [translation without rhymes]

“In order to have money at home and never run out of it, you need to have a Jew at home who will guard the money.”

“When in poverty, go to the Jew.”

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More Information

The aforementioned examples corroborate the popular belief that a statue or a painting depicting a Jew with a coin brings financial success.

Although the origins of this belief are not entirely clear, one can definitely trace within it the stereotypical characteristic of Jews being wealthy and possessing high business skills.

What is surprising, however, is the very phrase “Lucky Jew”. Besides the aspect of dehumanization (a human being reduced to the role of an amulet!), associating Jews with luck is truly shocking. Given the historical context (pogroms, Holocaust) and other examples of antisemitism, one notices a lack of consistency here. On the one hand, Jews were often accused of failures, of acting to the disadvantage of others and of betraying the countries they lived in.  On the other hand, representatives of the same group are supposed to be synonymous with financial success.

The image of a Jew with a coin can be found not only in private homes but also in companies or doctors’ offices. The figurines and paintings are sold at souvenir stands in popular tourist sites, in big cities and smaller towns during local fairs and festivals.

In 2021, Krakow was the first city in Poland to take action and appeal to sellers to stop selling such “souvenirs”.

In order to combat such stereotypes we should make tourists and customers aware of the negative aspects of such souvenirs and appeal to sellers not to sell such pictures and figurines.

References

Jew with a coin – Wikipedia (The Jew with a coin is a controversial good luck charm in Poland)

Facing the phenomenon of “lucky Jews” in Poland (article published on June 8, 2021, on the Villa Decius Institute for Culture website)

Introduction | Lucky Jews. Poland’s Jewish Figurines (polish website about Lucky Jews)

Visuals

FestivALT – The Lucky Jew of Poland (short video about the Lucky Jew of Poland)

Lucky Jew (a Lucky Jew performance)

Debunking response