Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am a Jewish female (middle age), kids grown, etc. I have been
dating a wonderful (non-Jewish) man. We are in a warm, loving
relationship and have many things in common. He has been wonderful
to my family and me and vice versa, but something unexpectedly
happened yesterday and I am having trouble forgetting it and moving
past it. He used the word Jew as a verb in a sentence to “bargain” and
after some embarrassment, apologized. I know he didn&'t mean it in a
mean spirited way, but it really hurt to hear this derogatory term
about my religion and I am having a hard time in forgiving him, and
don&'t want to end the relationship, but don&'t know how to deal with

Dear Queasy:
This is a not uncommon problem. And not just among the politically
correct or sensitive. There’s a natural tendency, left over form the
liberation movements of the 70’s (women’s black, gay), to reclaim
language. To take the nouns and verbs that were thrown as taunts
(with or without punches to accentuate the insult) and reclaim those
words. The best example is “the N word,” which many blacks and
rappers have appropriated for themselves, said with ironic pride. But
there’s usually an understanding between people of the same sub-
group when this occurs.

In this case, the verb was likely said in a tone of I got the better of
someone. That doesn’t excuse it, but does give it context. It sounds
like you didn’t exclaim any disgust in the moment. But it is appropriate
to say, This has been eating at me. It bothers me. I like you in every
other way. Tell me what you meant by what you said. It bothered me.
I’m not uptight but I am proud. This feels like an anomaly for who I
think you are. Then listen. Whatever he says will likely sound feeble
given your level of response, especially since he is not Jewish. But the
discussion will be informative for you both.