Jesus · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · news · television

Young Jews

Don’t let the title of this CNN article fool you, it’s not about conversion. In fact, very little in “‘New Jews’ stake claim to faith, culture” applies to converts.

The article is a “too-cool-for-school” look at young Jews and how they’re taking back their Judaism. But while reading it, mostly, I thought…Y-A-W-N. Every couple of months, I see an article like this and I think the same thing: B-O-R-I-N-G with an added eye roll.
Look, I love some of the innovations mentioned in this piece: the G-dcast cartoons—which I love and always put up on my blog–and Limmud (I’ve attended their conferences for three years straight) but I just don’t know how these type of articles apply to converts. Mostly, they don’t. I think that’s the point.
These type of articles are packaged for (and usually, about, with few acceptions) born Jews who were bored with Judaism and from a convert’s perspective, didn’t know how good they had it.
Heeb Magazine (most notable for dressing up Rosanne Barr as Hitler recently) and comedian Sarah Silverman, both mentioned in this article, are really gross. Why this article mentions them in the same breath as G-dcast and Limmud is truly beyond me. Heeb is about serving up some kind of ethnic Judaism life while Sarah Silverman is about defying the “nice Jewish girl” mystique by working her potty mouth. G-dcast and Limmud…are actually trying to get people to learn something about JUDAISM!
I think there is something really sad, watching from the wings as a convert, about the fact that “without anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Israel (um, did Israel disappear?), liberating Soviet Jewry),” that young Jews feel they don’t have something to gather around. Um, it’s called Judaism, people. It’s been around for over 2,000 years and it doesn’t need a “cause,” is about a personal relationship with G-d, hello?!

While young Christians in America are making a comeback (wearing their chastity rings on Disney, asking “What Would Jesus Do?” and becoming a united voting block), young Jews are…watching Sarah Silverman and reading Heeb. Is anyone else worried?
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5 thoughts on “Young Jews

  1. After reading the CNN piece I had a pretty different impression than yours. I hardly expect MSM to cover much in the way of the perspective of gerim or even mention us in articles about Jews and Judaism. The article wasnt written for people likely to comment on this blog in that all of this stuff is old news to Jews for whom the Internet is second nature. I'm figuring that Mr & Mrs Rosenberg, late 40s/early 50s, 2.3 kids and a nice suburban home are the target Jewish readers here. Just as equally Mr & Mrs Smith, members of Humungously Large Baptist Church might also catch this piece just out of interest in that Jewish guy who works at the office.

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  2. Hey, Israel B, I agree with you. I think it's interesting that other friends who are converts who saw the piece thought the same thing but again, I don't speak for converts as a monolithic group. The reason I mentioned conversion at all is that I think it colors my judgment when I read the article.

    As a convert, I am obviously coming to Judaism from a very different perspective than the young Jews profiled in the piece. My interest is less cultural and more religious and I benefit mostly from the stuff that focuses on, as I said, my addiction: learning more about Judaism. I think that a lot of disenfranchised young Jews might read this article and think Judaism is cool, why don't I do Judaism?

    (Incidentally, a lot of my problems with programming–kiruv/outreach–for disenfranchised young Jews has been that I find myself bored to death during the requisite part of the programming that involves the hard sell to make Judaism cool. No one made Judaism “cool” for me. Luckily, I figured it out myself and jumped on the bandwagon.)

    You pointed out another clinch in my armor, so to speak, I am also very well-versed on the Internet and I've read countless articles like this and heard about all the “innovations” mentioned in the piece before.

    I don't know if you caught my earlier piece on CNN's “Latino in America,” I think the issues you point out were highlighted in a lot of the articles I read about that documentary. A lot of Latinos assumed “Latino in America” was for, well, Latinos like me when really it seems like it was for Mr & Mrs Smith, members of large white church who have never had a Hispanic person in their life and still refer to us all as “Mexicans.”

    So, people are joking CNN will now do “Asian in America”…perhaps, “Jewish in America” is on the list.

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  3. I remember an Equal Opportunity class back in the Army, and one of the subjects was discussing stereotypes and the EO rep accidentally said Mexican instead of Hispanic, which was a huge oops.

    What was even more amusing is that the same representative would not let my buddy Sgt Jesus Gonzalez have a Speedy Gonzalez image on his farewell dinner flier.

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