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Of Airbnb and anti-Semitic landlords

This week, on the “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” podcast …

Larry Rosen: I’ve got a conundrum for you, my Jewish friend.

Eric Goldbrener: Oh, I’ve got to put on my yarmulke here? I’m speaking for all Jews?

LR: I’m curious as to what you would do in this situation. On Saturday, my child will get into his increasingly dented car and drive to Los Angeles for his summer internship. We rented an apartment for him, and yesterday I talked to the owner of the place.

EG: Last-minute confirmation, sure.

LR: She’s gone all summer, so she needs to rent this place out. She’s going on and on about the place, very precise details …

EG: … too many details, lady.

LR: And then she says, “Oh, one more thing. In Beverly Hills, Airbnbs are frowned on. If your son could just not tell anyone it’s an Airbnb, that’d be great. Tell people he’s my friend and he’s housesitting.”

EG: She wants him to lie?

LR: Yes. And then she asks, “Are you Jewish?” I say I am, but she misses that. It doesn’t register until she’s already well into her anti-Jewish rant.

EG: “I live around these Jews and they’re all sticklers for these rules.”

LR: Exactly! “These Jews pay a lot of money for their apartments and they’re very particular.” I’ve got to admit I sort of enjoyed listening as she dug herself deeper and deeper. It was awhile before she said, “Wait. Did you say you were Jewish?”

EG: She starts backpedaling?

LR: Furiously.

EG: “I didn’t mean Jew …”

LR: She took the “Well, you’re not like that” approach. Looking back, it was pretty outrageous.

EG: “Not like that?” Like what? Like a money-grubbing, hair-splitting, overly intellectual, always demonstrating for other people’s rights instead of standing up for my own? Did you tell her you’re the kind of Jew who rips off water bottles from small shop owners just for sport?

LR: I didn’t mention that, no. So it keeps going on. She’s getting in deeper as she’s trying to get out. “You know, you people, you have all the money!” I’m thinking, “Really? Can you tell me where it’s kept? I can’t seem to find my cut.”

EG: I personally don’t have all the money.

LR: Well, once a week I do begin a podcast by saying, “We are the Jews,” so I guess I am a fair representative of the Jewish people. She wouldn’t let go of those Jews, boy. So we wrap it up and she texts me the phone number of the guy who’s going to let my kid into the apartment, followed by a paragraph about how she loves Jews. “Jews are the best!”

EG: I’m convinced.

LR: So what would you have done? Just laughed it off, like I did? What’s the point?

EG: That falls into my “petty anti-Semitism” bucket. She rented you the apartment, she was willing to take your money. If she breaks into the apartment in the middle of the night and attacks your son, then you’ve got a problem.

LR: Yeah, it’s not like she refused to rent us the place. My approach was to be an emissary from the planet Judea, here to maybe soften her opinions about the Jews. Obviously, her interactions with Jews up to this point haven’t been completely positive.

EG: And she said it to your face, so you don’t have to wonder what she’s saying behind her back!

LR: What if her attitude changes? She does a 180 in regard to Jews!

EG: “I spoke to a Jew on the phone, and he was great!” But let me ask you something.

LR: Fire away.

EG: Why not just rent from a Jew? “Look, my Jewish brother, can you dig into your stock of luxury apartments in L.A. and rent me a place?” You could’ve avoided the whole thing.

LR: “For you, such a deal!”

EG: “I’m going to kick this other woman out and rent to you because you’re a member of the tribe!”

LR: Yeah, they don’t include “religion” as a filter on Airbnb. Most importantly, though, I feel like I have your blessing for how I dealt with this.

EG: Oh yeah. You handled that well.

Larry Rosen
Larry Rosen

Larry Rosen is a writer, husband, father and author of “The Rabbi Has Left the Building,” a memoir about his son’s bar mitzvah. He co-hosts the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?”

Eric Goldbrener
Eric Goldbrener

Eric Goldbrener is a Libertarian, Zionist, atheist and autodidact technologist. He co-hosts the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?”