Aw god! This article reads like a who’s who of Mobius’ clients. I work for and/or chill with all of these people (with the exception of Adam Davis). Why am I missing from this piece?!

But seriously, why’s The Forward trying to instigate shit? Discussing the growing Jewish fringe movement, the piece states:

Media critic Douglas Rushkoff dismissed many of these groups. “I don’t think there’s anything real going on here for the most part,” said Rushkoff, a communications professor at New York University and the author of, most recently, “Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism” (Crown).

“When I look at efforts of people taking spray-paint imagery from the 1980s, black subway-graffiti-art culture or turntable culture or, whatever, black penises, they’re appropriating imagery and cool from other cultures because they don’t feel cool themselves.”


Cohen of Jewsweek retorted with a critique of his own: “For Judaism to be special and important to me, I have to fit it to modern-day society.”

“The problem arises,” he added, “when you have people like Douglas Rushkoff, who is too far out on the edge, who says, ‘Who needs God?’ That’s jumping over the cliff and hitting the rock at the bottom. The Jewish fringe is about being proud of Judaism.”

I think Ben Cohen’s the greatest, but what he says here is unfair. Doug’s mighty proud of being Jewish, and these accusations of atheism are based on a skewed interpretation of what he’s written—it’s a tactic employed simply to discredit him. In the present context, what Doug is saying is that there’s enough culture in Judaism that is cool, without needing to co-opt other peoples’ culture and repackage it in a Jewish wrapping. I think that’s a very fair criticism and shows much more pride in one’s culture than the commodification of the Jewish fringe offered by Heeb and other sources of “Jewspolitation.”

Even if you want to contend that Rushkoff is not an expert on Judaic scripture or the Jewish religion (a fact that he will concede himself), you can not deny that media and culture are his areas of expertise, for which he is highly respected, and that in this case, he is actually quite right in his assessment. I would recommend you watch his PBS documentary, “The Merchants of Cool,” before you cast aside his opinion on these matters.

Sorry Ben, but that just wasn’t very nice.

5 thoughts on “AlternaJews

  1. the author of the article is a close freind of mine.. she actually met you once at a party or something.. good lubavitch girl ..sits at the cubicle next to your man dan treiman from new voices…

  2. huh. it’s cool to be on the “fringe” but uncool to be on the “edge”? this is a celebration of subculture; not counterculture.

  3. What a weird piece that was. All I told the interviewer was that I didn’t see this ‘fringe’ or ‘edge’ stuff as intrinsically Jewish, but rather appropriative.
    My comment on the repackaging of Black/Urban youth culture as “Jewish” certainly has nothing to do with God or Godlessness.
    I was commenting more on shirts that say stuff like “I’m a Jew, You MuthaFuckah,” which to me communicate “Jews can be cool like niggahs, too.”
    Very Jolson, very trivializing. There’s a big difference between Jewish cool and Jewish pride. Whether you see God with a white beard or not.

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