We’ve all heard the expression, “Funny you don’t look Jewish,” or “I knew you were Jewish by just looking at you.” Jews seem to have internal radar for identifying one another. It isn’t just a Semitic appearance or the Je ne sais quoi of Jewishness. It is, actually, the neshamathe Jewish “soul” radiating outwards that we recognize in each other. But if you’re not in the transcendental mindset of one Jewish soul calling out to another, below are seven ways to actually look like a Jew.

1. Watch What You Eat (Literally)


If you see a person staring at a food package, turning it over every which way, sideways, and up and down, what they are doing is looking for a hechsher, a kosher symbol that tells them the food is permissible to eat. Jews eat kosher, and it isn’t just the ingredients that are important. The kosher symbol attests to how the food was prepared and overseen, meeting the strict dietary standards of the nation who knows that you are what you eat. Jews may also sometimes stare at their food before eating it because they’re often trying to figure out what blessing to make on their food.

2. Dress the Part


Jews have always had a mode of dress identifying them as Jews. Whatever the fashion (or lack thereof) may be, Jews have always been identified with modest dress, (a kippah for men and hair covering for married women), dignity and humility. Jews have their own fashion sense. We are considered princes and princesses of the King of the Universe, and our vestments are meant to reflect our royal lineage. Ripped jeans and revealed cleavage are not the fashion statement of the observant Jew.

Sometimes, dressing the part can help us eat kosher, too. Many years ago, I was at a baseball game in Los Angeles where the Brooklyn Dodgers were playing the L.A. Angels. Since many religious Jews were attending the game, there was a kosher hot-dog stand. One woman, identifying me by my dress, asked me if I knew where it was. I hadn’t even heard of such a thing and was thrilled to make the discovery.

3. Help Your Fellow


Whether it’s donating to charity, running a silent auction or volunteering for an organization, Jews are known for their generosity of money, time and spirit. Though of course non-Jews can also be kind, the Torah commands us about acts of kindness, compassion, charity and sensitivity. Helping the oppressed is the hallmark of the Jewish people and the basis of the Torah: “Love your fellow man as yourself.” If you want to look Jewish, help an old lady across the street, drop a few coins in a charity box or donate blood.

4. Keep Your Body a Clean Slate


While creativity is a G‑dly attribute for us to emulate, our bodies are not to be used as canvasses. Tattoos are forbidden by the Torah. (Even extensive body-piercing, while not forbidden, is not in keeping with the Jewish look.) Our bodies, which are the wrapping for our souls, are not to be mutilated or used for a vernissage.

5. Read


The Jewish people are called “The People of the Book.” Of course, the book in question is the Torah, otherwise known as the Bible, or the five books of Moses. But there is a plethora of Torah literature emanating from the Torah’s wisdom, providing relevant guidance, inspiration and teachings for all areas of life. Jews turn to this wisdom to find solutions to the many challenges of contemporary life. So learning Jewish studies is a clear giveaway that you are a Jew.

6. Smile


The Jewish people could not have survived millennia of persecution and dispersion without (what life coaches would call today) a positive mindset. Judaism teaches us to look for the good in every situation, to be accepting of our circumstances, and to be grateful and hopeful. So if you are Jewish, try to smile, laugh and act good-naturedly in your interactions with your fellow humankind, whether they are Jewish or not.

7. Move Your Lips


Jews seem to be in constant communion with G‑d, witnessed by their apparent constant talking to themselves, which is, in fact, prayer. Whether they are reciting Psalms by heart, making a blessing on their chocolate bar, asking for good health or good weather, or having a heart to heart with their Creator, a Jew is very often to be found with their lips moving in silent supplication. (Side tip: Don’t be offended if a religious Jew doesn’t answer your query right away. He or she may be finishing off his conversation with the Almighty!)