Jewish Lightning is a term for a mysterious cause of a fire, that was possibly set by the owner of the home, or the business (usually unprofitable) in hopes of getting insurance money.
The expression may be used to joke about the supposed reason of the fire or accuse the homeowner of arson.
The phrase comes from the general stereotype of Jews, that they would do anything in order to gain money, so they don’t even mind burning their own home, or business.
Because of this, the expression is highly offensive and its use is better to avoid.
“Jewish lightning” started to be used in the English language during the 20th century, though at that time they sometimes referred to it as “Greek lightning.”
Spread and Usage
Urban Dictionary users started to define “Jewish lightning” in 2004.
Author Barry Zack published a book, with the expression being involved in the title; “Jewish Lightning: So, What Could Go Wrong?” in 2015.
- Urban Dictionary – Jewish Lightning