The Schmooze

Why Branding Judaism Is a Bad Idea

I blame Heeb. Launched in 2001, “The New Jew Review” iterated a sharp, satirical take on Jewish culture. The idea was to edify through mockery: Thus a 2005 cover featured Sarah Silverman displaying her cleavage through a hole in a sheet. Although it can try too hard to shock (remember Roseanne Barr as Hitler baking “Jew cookies?”) Heeb is usually funny — and kind of cool.

That is to say that the magazine is cool (or was — the print version folded last year). But now, perhaps emboldened by Heeb, a number of organizations are attempting to brand Judaism itself as cool.

For example, there’s the Jewlicious blog and its attendant festival, which I covered for the Forward last year. The festival (which took place February 24 to 27 in Long Beach, California) features Jewish music and Jewish comedians and Jewish panels talking about Judaism. The blog is strongly Zionist, with articles like, “Egyptian Riots… but is it good for the Jews?” [sic]. And blatantly supportive of sex between Zionists, with articles like, “The Unofficial Guide to Sex on Birthright Israel.”

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Why Branding Judaism Is a Bad Idea

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