Thursday, June 08, 2006

When did the whole world become Jewish?

I haven't posted in a while, so here goes:

I got this e-mail from my mom...

Probably dozens of times a year, you'd find parents in Orthodox neighborhoods deciding to pick that name for their newborn baby girls. But Tom and Katie? Yes, that Scientology movie star couple of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes picked the name Suri for their new daughter. They did, they said, because Suri has its roots in biblical Hebrew, is a variant on the name Sarah, which means "princess." That followed by a few weeks, the decision of movie star Gwenyth Paltrow to name her new son, Moses. As in, well, Moses.

Somewhere in between the births of baby Suri and baby Moses were the debut of a new cable TV reality series, titled, "Shalom in the Home," in whicha rabbi gives marital advice to couples; and the selection by President Bushof Joel Kaplan to be his new Karl Rove, namely his chief advisor on policy. Kaplan was named deputy chief of staff. Couple weeks before that, Bush chose Josh Bolten, nice Jewish boy, to be his chief of staff.

Meanwhile, over in movie theaters, we had the premiere of a major motion picture named, "When Do We Eat?" which is all about a Passover seder. In a couple weeks, it will be joined on the silver screen by "Keeping Up with Steins," which is all about bar mitzvahs.

Which leads me to one question. What in the hell is going on? Or, to put it more delicately, when did the whole world become Jewish? Truth is there have been warning signs. Madonna studying Kabbalah, not holding concerts on Shabbat, visiting Israel for Rosh Hashanah. Roseanne saying she was planning a bat mitzvah. Rabbi characters showing up on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." Two Orthodox contestants on "The Apprentice."A top pop star recording a hipped up version of "If I Were a Rich Man." Mattisyahu, clad in black hat and tzitzit, atop the rap music charts. And more. So much more. All leading to one inescapable conclusion. Jewish is cool. Don't know how it happened, but it clearly has.

When one of the biggest stars of all decides to name his baby Suri, when the hottest trend in TV, the reality show, stars a rabbi, when a White House under Bush, one of the goyest presidents ever, is being run by two Jews, when MTV is constantly playing videos featuring a Lubavitcher Chasid, we clearly are where it's at. Big time. I find that fascinating. I find that particularly fascinating in that we have done absolutely nothing to make it happen. Indeed, a good case can be made that Judaism has gone out of its way to not be relevant, not be with it, not keep up with the times, not be cool. No how, no way.

There is a reason that so few young Jews find Judaism appealing. It's because we have done nothing to make it so, still rely to an obscene extent on that holy trinity of Jewish life, the Holocaust, Israel and anti- Semitism, to make Jewish life go. Problem is that those three things are so 20th century. Sad thing is that Judaism itself is ever fresh, ever relevant, ever full of appeal, ever able to renew itself, bring meaning to the life of an individual, every individual. It is a clear demonstration of the powerful beauty and wonder of Judaism that Judaism is so cool today, that top stars connect to it, that artists reference it, that people find wisdom in it.

8 Shpeils

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Blogger The Nucular Jew said...

Damn, Judaisms cool? Alright, I'm in.

Friday, June 09, 2006 11:51:00 AM  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your mom must be from Chicago. See this editorial in the Chicago Jewish News April 28 (titled Mazel Tov).

Anyway, Jewish is cool.

Friday, June 09, 2006 8:26:00 PM  

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Anonymous brown eyed girl said...

actually, my mom is from brooklyn (born and raised baby! - as is the rest of my family)

Monday, June 12, 2006 11:46:00 PM  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your mom, but that's right from Joe Aaron's editorial.

Anyway, it's a great thing to share. Good points...but you know that or you wouldn't have shared it with the rest of us.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:29:00 PM  

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Anonymous brown eyed girl said...

i think you misunderstood. i didn't credit my mom with writing it. she just forwarded it to me. she does that. she's one of those people who forwards every e-mail she gets to me. i have a mail box just for her stuff, which i usually never read.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:03:00 PM  

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. I probably should have just let it go in the first place.

If you don't look at them, you may find the editorials in the Chicago Jewish News interesting. Not what you usually see.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 1:37:00 PM  

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Blogger BrownsvilleGirl said...

Btw, I saw Keeping Up with the Steins and thought it was adorable. :)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 8:02:00 PM  

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Blogger Lost in Service said...

Madonna studying kabbalah made it a novelty. No one heard of "When do we eat?" Associating jews with scientology is not beneficial. Gwenyth Paltrow named her first kid apple so you can imagine how many screws are loose in her head. 2 Jews in charge of Bush's policies? great, we'll be the scapegoats yet again. Matisyahu is fucking cool tho.

Thursday, July 06, 2006 11:27:00 AM  

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