Free Character Writing Prompts #66: Jews

These character writing prompts are likely to fast on Yom Kippur and hang out in Synagogue on Saturday. I'm proud as a Jew myself to write these prompts focused on those of my religious ilk. While I'd mostly determined to keep this book irreligious aside from a few sections, in attempting to create 100 distinct sections, I figured including those from my religion would be alright. In my many years of after-school religious classes, my Bar Mitzvah and my free trip to Israel through the Birthright organization, I've learned countless things about Judaism and the people who practice it. There are a few stereotypes out there about the Jewish people and I feel like a smattering of ten non-cliché Jewish characters will be just the ticket to weeding those stereotypes out a bit. Sit back, eat some bagels with lox and take a gander at these Jewish folk. 

Free Character Writing Prompts #66: Jews

1. When most people thought of a rabbi, they pictured an old man wearing a tallit over his suit and constantly praying. When those people asked him how he fit into that mold, he said he was a different kind of rabbi: a rabbi of the street. He didn't really have a congregation and he rarely presided over Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. He would counsel homeless youth on the streets and help them to make a better life for themselves. He got involved with the gang violence problems in the city and did everything he could to knock them down a peg or two. He was beloved by many and hated by some, but regardless of people's feelings, he was most certainly a rabbi. How did he become the revered man of the night he is today?

2. No matter how much he tried to push religion away from himself, he was completely unsuccessful. After all, he looked extremely Jewish with his curly black hair and his large nose. He had a very Jewish last name and his family was famous for contributing financially to the local synagogue. That being said, he hadn't practiced the religion for nearly 20 years after having a falling out with his Orthodox parents. He knew all of the traditions and the most important holidays, he just no longer had any interest in participating. He even married an atheist and came closer each day to believing her viewpoint. How Jewish does he consider himself and what would cause him to renew his faith?

3. She wasn't Jewish by birth, but when her husband asked her to become a part of his religion she jumped at the chance. She'd always wanted to take part in the traditions and ceremonies of a religion and because her parents grew up agnostic she never had the chance. Whenever she attended Bar or Bat Mitzvahs as a teen, she wished that she was up there in front, reading and singing the Torah. This is one of the major reasons behind her visiting Jewish social groups and signing up for sites like J-Date. Her mission was successful and after a few months of marriage, she studied for her adult Bat Mitzvah. What are some of the other reasons she wanted to become Jewish?

4. She knew what most people thought when she talked to her kids friends or her grandkids. She was a stereotypical Jewish grandmother. She also knew that they were completely right, but she felt like she didn't have much control over it. After all, her mother and grandmother before her had acted in exactly the same way. She was obsessed with making sure her progeny was eating enough and she loved them with every ounce of her being. She took care of the house and her husband well and she was always anxious that something would happen to her relatives. She realized she was falling into the pigeonhole of the Jewish grandmother but she figured there were worse things to be labeled. What are some of the ways in which she breaks the mold of this grandmother type?

5. Throughout his youth he had dealt with the Jewish religion as an everyday challenge. His parents kept the house Kosher and made sure that he went to Synagogue every Friday night and Saturday morning. He appreciated the ritual of the thing and he enjoyed having a Jewish identity. He just didn't feel much of a need to keep all of the same traditions going. He married a Jewish woman who felt similarly to him and while his kids received their Bar Mitzvahs, he didn't push them to keep going to services after that. After all, the membership fee at the Synagogue was a bit expensive. What are the other ways this man maintains his Jewish identity?

6. He was one of your favorite kids to hang out with at Hebrew school. You two shared a few public school classes as well and you seemed to see pretty eye to eye about keeping your Judaism relatively separate from the public eye. This is why you were surprised to find out that he went to a Jewish college and thoroughly enhanced his faith as he got older. He didn't become a rabbi or anything, but nearly all of the pictures you saw on Facebook of him had the prayer shawl under his clothes and the yarmulke adorning his head. You wondered to yourself if he was the same humorous, interesting fellow you knew back in school. What are some other ways in which your friend has changed over the years?

7. She was like a Jewish mother type in miniature. She had been one of the most popular girls in school due to her fast talking and her early development, but she was never one to be cruel. She would ask plenty of questions about how you were doing and what you were up to, though she wouldn't always wait for the answer to launch into a related topic of conversation. She attended Synagogue every Saturday, though you wondered if it wasn't in part so that she could chat with a bunch of different people after the service. What are some of the things she likes to talk about during her long-winded conversations?

8. People were always surprised to find out that she was Jewish. After all, she certainly didn't fit the description. She had bright red hair and blue eyes that made her seem more Irish than Jewish. She grew up in a part of the country where Jewish people weren't all that frequent, so people rarely made the assumption. When she attended a more diverse school for undergrad, most pegged her for a Catholic instead and she just laughed them off. She never took offense to people confusing who she was, it had been happening all her life. She enjoyed keeping religion a part of her life and attended weekly services whenever she could. What are some other ways in which she appears to be non-Jewish?

9. Sometimes he lamented the choice he'd made for his career. As a well-known financial advisor, he felt like he fit too much into the money-obsessed Jewish stereotype. He wanted to point out that Jews were essentially forced into the stereotype hundreds of years ago and that if it wasn't for them, the modern economy might have never developed. Most people didn't care about his opinions though unless it had to do with dollars and sense. He was great at what he did and his abilities had helped many people out of financial trouble. He wondered if maybe he should have gone into something more exciting like surfing or safari leading, but he knew that God had chosen the right place for him. What other Jewish stereotypes does he rail against?

10. With a Jewish mother who wasn't interested in practicing and a Christmas-loving father, she had lived most of her life as an agnostic Christian. When she was informed that her Jewish blood would enable her to travel to Israel for free, she jumped at the chance. It gave her the opportunity to go to a continent she'd never seen in addition to getting out of the house during a particularly boring summer. She was overwhelmed by how interesting the Jewish culture was after immersing herself in it for several weeks. She'd never really thought about her Jewish identity before, but the trip had her questioning whether or not she should make an effort to include the religion or at least the ethnicity aspect as a part of her life. She felt like being Jewish was somewhat like being a part of a special club. Now she just had to decide if she wanted to pay the dues. What will she decide to do about being a part of the Jewish faith? 

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    Written by Bryan Cohen

    Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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