Jewish startups should partner with established organizations. Synagogues, federations, and community centers need new ways of engaging while startups need stability.
Over the past year, with examples like the now moribund but once cutting-edge Jewish record company JDub on people’s minds, the Jewish community has spent significant time reflecting on how to make these types of innovative startups more sustainable. Funders, in particular, have tried to figure out how to transition them safely on to the “second stage” of their lives as community institutions. And, more fundamentally, a few questions have presented themselves: What are the obligations of original funders once they have reached the end of the initial funding relationship? Where can an organization turn as it enters a stage of growth that requires larger annual budgets and a greater investment in infrastructure? In what ways does an organization need to adapt structurally in order to survive the transition from pioneering startup to stable fixture in the Jewish communal landscape?
The following is by one of our intrepid interns, Pnina Kessler, who has put together her thoughts on the demise of JDub (which we recently covered in our pages). It’s an insightful commentary on how much more needs to be done to appeal to young American Jews on a cultural level.
Over the past decade world music has made a veritable comeback, trickling into the mainstream and infusing the indie and alternative rock scene with eclectic and unexpected rhythms. From the emergence of bands like Golgol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box to the return of Brazilian psychedelic rockers Os Mutantes, world music has become more popular, with bands borrowing from the traditional music of their own heritages and others, peppering their music with ancient sounds and lively beats.
It is hard to believe we are only five years from klezmer-punk band Golem’s 2006 debut album, “Fresh Off Boat,” and the first time (most of us) heard Alicia Jo Rabins on a record. Since then we have gotten a follow-up from Golem (2009’s tremendous “Citizen Boris”) and a solo debut from Rabin’s new project, Girls in Trouble.
In the late 1960s the term jazz fusion became a popular way of referencing music that borrowed heavily from both jazz and funk, or jazz and rock, or really any two genres that musicians troubled to smash together. If you hadn’t already noticed, fusion has been a dominant mode of expression in Jewish music over the last few decades. Reviews of new albums can tend to sound like exercises in proper noun naming; sometimes it’s easier just to list the influences on an album than it is to explain what they’re all doing together. Klezmer and rock. Klezmer and metal. Ladino and jazz.
In geographic space the farthest city from New York is Perth, Australia, but in mental space the farthest is certainly Timbuktu. The Malian city sits on the southern border of the Sahara Desert and is so distant that schoolchildren name it as an impossible place. Dictionaries define it as “the most distant place imaginable” or someplace “foreign, outlandish.” Appropriately then, The Sway Machinery — JDub Records’ preeminent cosmopolitan culture-divers — travelled to Timbuktu to make their new album, “The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1.”
In celebration of Jewish Book Month, The Arty Semite is partnering with the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA) and the Jewish Book Council to present “30 Days, 30 Texts,” a series of reflections by community leaders on the books that influenced their Jewish journeys. Today, Aaron Bisman writes about “The White Boy Shuffle” by Paul Beatty.