Joel is one of Sam and Frankie's best friends. Sarcastic, easily offended, but with a heart of gold (or so Sam and Frankie believe in high school), Joel enjoys engaging in "verbal jousts" with Sam.
Joel attended the same high school as Sam and Frankie. He met Sam in Literature Class as well as in Debate Club and after debating about religion (Sam and Joel are both atheists), Joel - impressed by Sam's sentence structure and persuasiveness - decided to befriend him.
Generally, Joel is quite introverted when he is not debating and prefers the company of books (usually about logic, debate, accounting, or mathematics) to people. However, he does have the habit of always making his opinion known, whether it's welcome or not.
Joel's parents immigrated to the US in 1900 from southeastern Poland. Like the deli owner Harvey Feingold, Joel's parents are also Galitzianers.
Despite his parents' desire for him to learn more about his roots, however, Joel shows little genuine interest in being anything but a red-white-and-blue-flag-waving American. In this way, he's a foil to Sam, who is much more immersed in his Yiddish identity.
At first, Joel was impressed by Sam's arguments at debate club and wanted to emulate, as he said, Sam's "verbal wit and logic." However, he clashes with Sam once Sam is in law school since he doesn't like how in his view, Sam is "squandering" his opportunity to become a lawyer (since Sam wants to quit law school).
Frankie and Joel know each other through Sam. All three of them hung around each other a lot during high school, but after graduating, they drifted apart.
Lev thinks that Joel is a good friend for Sam, since Joel is hard-working, studious, and does not take part in distractions like parties, etc.
● Joel loves eating at Feingold's. Like Sam, he likes their pastrami the most.
● Joel isn't that close with Frankie and is pretty much only friends with him because they're both friends with Sam
● Joel finds Frankie a bit boring and wonders why Sam is friends with him (secretly)
● Joel secretly wanted to be valedictorian, but Sam got the position since he was more popular, and Joel kind of resents himself for not having the social skills to appeal to a wider audience.