Type: Folk Belief/Superstition
- “My parents always told me about traditions and beliefs among the Orthodox (Jews) community in Europe and in America. One thing that I will always remember is how the Orthodox adults talk about children, but babies specifically. The tradition is very strange but this is it: Orthodox Jews never compliment babies—they will only say bad things about others’ babies. Things like ‘how ugly,’ or ‘he/she is not cute,’ ‘gross looking,’ etc. They do this because they believe that saying good things about another baby will bring evil. That saying good things will actually curse the child, and the opposite will come true. The compliment is somehow representative of the evil eye. And so, to avoid this, Orthodox adults will say bad things about other babies, but everyone knows that they are actually complementing. This was my mother’s generation, in both Europe and America. I still think this is common among Orthodox Jews today!”
- I obtained this piece of folklore from my grandfather Don. Don was born in 1932, and his whole life has been very active in the Jewish community. Don has also been actively Jewish his whole life, and cares deeply about his faith. He heard this piece of folklore from both his parents, who lived in both Poland and New Jersey. Both places had and still have a prominent Jewish Orthodox community. Don’s parents were conservative Jews, but had friends and neighbors who were Orthodox, and is how they knew of this superstition.
- The evil eye and bad luck are common themes throughout the Jewish faith. Many Jews wear hamsas to ward off the evil eye, put them in their homes, and sometimes even on their bodies. Fearing the evil eye is common among Jewish people, and in both Europe and America this tradition exists, exemplifying this.
- I do not like this superstition, I think it is a little too much. I don’t think saying good things about a baby will bring bad luck or a curse, but that is what superstitions are all about!