This just happened, seriously, not five minutes ago. A woman who also works for my boss (but not for the company I work for - long story) just came in to hand me her newest invoice. She then told me a story about how, when she was printing up her invoice and putting it in an envelope, her husband had said that she shouldn't bother with the envelope if she was just coming in to work today since she could just hand me the invoice. Her response? "Why are you being such a Jew about an envelope?"
My face froze in a pained smile... I'd heard of those kinds of comments, but no one had ever said anything like that around me before. Clearly she has no idea that I'm half-Jewish, or (I hope, anyway) that she'd have thought better of telling me that story. And I'm left with this dilemma - how do I tell her that her comment is not only not funny, it's offensive (potentially very much so, depending on the audience), without making her feel worse than she needs to? In other words, it'd be best if it were a "teaching opportunity," as it were, rather than a scolding. And I have no earthly idea how to do that.
Update (11:54am): Chris sent me an email about this post and rightly pointed out that the best - and easiest - time to address these things is, of course, in the moment. It gets harder as time goes by because then you have to "have a talk." I completely agree. I have no idea why I didn't say anything in the moment. The only thing I can think of is that I was so stunned. I mean, if she had used the "N" word I'd have said something (I have in the past to others) - because in that case it's not about me, but about what's right. In this case, it'd have seemed like it was about me, and maybe that's the problem. I don't want it to seem personal - the reason it's offensive isn't because I'm half-Jewish. It's offensive because it's a racial/religious slur. The point here is that I'd like to think she'd think twice about saying it again regardless of the audience, and not just when there are Jews around.