Your Definitive Guide To Jewish Geography

Your Definitive Guide To Jewish Geography

So it’s come to my attention that I’m one of the few Jew-ish writers who has contributed for PGP – which makes sense, considering Grandex is based in Texas. Jews and Texas aren’t exactly the winning bagel and lox combination that our ancestors dreamed of. No offense to the Texans. Please don’t shoot me for saying that, I love what you do with the barbecue situation. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Like I said, Jew-ish.

But if there is one Jewish thing I’m good at, it’s Jewish Geography. For the uninformed, Jewish Geography is what Jewish-Americans do when they meet someone new to establish a common bond. When used in a sentence: “Oh you went to Syracuse and were in AEPhi? Do you know so-and-so?” Or, “Where on Long Island are you from?” It’s an art form, it’s a game, and it takes practice. Let’s break it down.


As a culturally Jewish American who only goes to temple on Yom Kippur to see what everyone else is wearing and gossip about who’s getting a divorce, your options to live include: the suburbs of New York, Chicago, Philly, Boston, LA, DC, and South Florida. That’s it. I’m looking at you, Atlanta.

Special shoutouts to the entire North Shore of Long Island, Scarsdale, New Rochelle, Highland Park, Deerfield, Bethesda, Potomac, the Main Line, Livingston, Millburn, Tenafly, Newton, Needham, Boca/Ft. Lauderdale, and this video. I went to camp with one of the guys in it. Classic.

Sleep-Away Camp

Towanda, Nock-a-Mixon, Che-Na-Wah, Pontiac, Lokanda. No, I’m not talking about Native American tribes. I’m talking about 7-week “overnight” camps where kids are encouraged to “be themselves.” This loosely translates to “be yourself, but not totally yourself, because 13 year-olds are awful. Also, you have to play sports every day, sleep two feet away from another person, and try not to freak out when you see a spider in the shower. But you’ll love it.” Those were the days.


Every Jewish person ends up going to the same fifteen or so colleges and rooming with their best friend from camp’s best friend’s from home’s friend from tennis. These are: Tulane, Emory, Vanderbilt, Duke, Michigan, Wisconsin, Maryland, Syracuse, Penn State, UF, Cornell, UPenn, Miami, Maryland, GW, and Indiana. There are a few that will do something totally drastic like go to Lehigh or Bucknell but there’s no AEPhi or SDT at either of those schools, and that is exactly how you lose at Jewish Geography.

And while we’re on the subject… Greek life for Jews is not wearing Lily Pulitzer (although ironically, she’s from Roslyn. How ya like them apples and honey?) and talking about our houses in Nantucket. It’s about finding other friends from the aforementioned suburbs or sleep-away camps and bonding over your mutual hatred of other people. AEPhi, SDT, AEPi, ZBT, and Sammy. Kappa who?

Career/Post Grad

All Jewish girls that move to NYC will move into a doorman building in Murray Hillel. Sorry, I meant Murray Hill.

“Those boys” will go straight into finance because they’ve been waiting for this moment since they left the womb. Others will go to law and med school, because of course, and “those girls” will get into fashion or travel marketing/PR. C’est la vie.

Bonus Points

– Go to Katz’s Deli and talk about how much of an NJB the owner is over a pastrami sandwich and some matzah ball soup.
– Make a foodie Instagram account (#TGDAG). Then go to Yogurt and Such.
– Talk about your anxiety on the phone with your mom 10 times a day.
– Start a jewelry or clothing business.
– Wear a blue Hamsa necklace that you got on Birthright. And all black. All day, every day.

Winning at Jewish Geography is a combo of practice, skill, and knowing when to make fun of yourself. Like, of course you have 57 mutual friends with that guy you met at B Bar last weekend. Stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. They’re generalizations of a large group of people that all just happen to know each other in one way or another. The trick is to have the right amount of self-awareness and to not to get offended when a sassy, satirical Internet blogger calls you out on it.

And on that note… Anyone up for a round of Cards Against Humanity?

Image via Unsplash

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