As major media outlets across the country file for bankruptcy and scatter their employees to the wind, several college students affiliated with Hillel, the ubiquitous Jewish campus-life organization, are starting their own national magazine.
The first national edition of Schmooze magazine, published this past fall, features a guide to 21st-century matchmaking; an essay cautioning would-be halutzim, or pioneers, that Israel “is no longer this wild, foreign land,” and a pseudo-anthropological rundown of Jewish student archetypes — among them, Israeli with narghile (water pipe) and princess with Louis Vuitton.
Jake Laub, a Northwestern University journalism student who, since 2006, has been putting out a local version of the magazine, distributed at Northwestern three times a year, is the editor of Schmooze. But in 2008, he teamed up with 25 Hillel campus centers across the country to expand the publication’s reach.
Even though most of his magazine’s funding comes from Hillel, as do the magazine’s writers, Laub told The Shmooze that Schmooze (an alternate spelling of the Yiddish term for “kibbitz” — oh, wait, that’s also Yiddish) is “completely student run.”
“No one has editorial control over us,” Laub said.
But according to Laub, this doesn’t mean that Schmooze resembles New Voices, the 28-year-old Jewish student magazine that has long taken a critical approach to the Jewish establishment. (Full disclosure: This writer has been known to contribute to New Voices.)
“We’re much more modeled on Heeb,” Laub said, referring to the irony-infused glossy. “Like Heeb, we don’t take things too seriously. We don’t have an agenda — we’re just having fun.”