Jewish New York hipsters gone wild

Hooray! More ink spilled by the New York Times about the urge to make Judaism cool! Apparently, the best way to do it is not with hipster tee shirts, or anti-Zionist-anarcho-crypto-Jew London parties, but rather, with yoga! And cocktails! Silly us.
(I’m just relieved that I beat the other blogs to the punch in mocking these people. Those of you who know me realize that I am all for humiliating underaffiliated, underobservant, unorthodox Jews as quickly as possible.)

“Everything in the world nowadays is about marketing,” she said. “If Judaism is really slow and boring and doesn’t try to do anything to compete with the parties and the music and the movies, it’s going to lose.”

I mean really. Let’s kick her out.
With Yoga, Comedy and Parties, Synagogues Entice Newcomers

11 thoughts on “Jewish New York hipsters gone wild

  1. This is at least the second time those Tribeca Chabad folks have appeared in the NYT (see December 13, 2004). Methinks someone in the Times newsroom is a fan.

  2. Oh, and yawn. As they say, Rolls-Royce doesn’t have to offer 0% financing. If the quality of what goes on in synagogues were better, it would speak for itself, and they wouldn’t have to worry about marketing.

  3. Oh please peeps, stop kvetching — it’s great to pull in underaffiliated Jews with innovative programs. Wasn’t davening an innovation to replace the Temple after it’s destruction? Why not come up with new ways to get ’em inside, and then they may slowly realize the value of Torah, community and worship of God.
    New York affiliated Jews may think that authentic Judaism is the only way to be Jewish (I guess I mean conservadox/orthodox worship) but the reality is that most Jews in America are Reformish or nothing, and we need ’em to identify and mate. If Yoga does the trick, so be it.

  4. peeps are pushed away from the shuls b/c of sinat chinam.
    all the stories of droupouts are usually quite the same, and it’s not “my shul didn’t have yoga and cocktails”.
    putting yoga and rock bands and whatever isn’t going to do any good.
    “tricks” aren’t what we need. more real Torah shuls that do more than pay lip service to ahavas yisroel is what we need.
    cheap substitutes will continue to fail.

  5. Zachary-
    The problem is that once we’re inside, there’s nothing inside most synagogues that would inspire people to “realize the value of Torah, community and worship of God”. That’s what needs to be fixed, not the marketing.
    I can’t tell whether you‘re claiming that “conservadox/orthodox worship” has a sole claim on “authentic Judaism” or whether you’re imputing that view to other people who have posted to this thread (specifically me, since I’m the only New York Jew who had posted thus far, and we’re discussing in another thread whether I count as “affiliated”). If the latter, that is not in any way an accurate representation of my perspective. In fact, I fall into the “Reformish or nothing” category: I grew up Reform, and the synagogue I don’t go to is Reform.
    I’m not saying that Reform Judaism should be Orthodox; I’m saying that it should be Zusya and create communities that are truly devoted to Torah, avodah, and gemilut chasidim in the ways that liberal Jews understand those concepts.
    It is condescending to say that “authentic Judaism” is reserved for C/O Jews, while “Reformish or nothing” Jews need to be attracted with cocktail parties and shiny things. This is what my political opponents call “the soft bigotry of low expectations”. In reality, the synagogues are failing to attract people not because they lack glitter, but because they lack substance.
    Finally, I take issue with the statement that “we need ’em to identify and mate”. Even leaving aside the problematic dichotomy between “we” and “’em”, I believe that mating cannot be the ultimate goal. If making more Jewish babies is not bringing us any closer to building a world based on Torah values, then we might as well give up the whole enterprise now.

  6. shmuel,
    we’re not talking about “shul dropouts.” the phenomenon is that for many people, they only belong to a shul because their parents are members. the education program at the shul isn’t so hot, but the parents want to make an attempt at jewish education (good intentions), so they join anyway. while most people in the shul get that the education program isn’t so hot, everyone is afraid to admit it, because then all the adult members of the shul have to admit that their jewish knowledge and education isn’t so hot either – the parents think, “well it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for them.” however, even though these people grow up “affiliated” or “pre-drop out,” they don’t ever find a reason to join a shul during or after college; this makes sense because many of our parents were the same way. everyone in some way or another is a “dropout” because we moved away from our parents shul and ended up in another city. now that we are in another city, we don’t yet feel the need to join a shul.
    i agree with shmuel that we need ‘ahavas yisroel’ (love of israel) at our shuls – but like zachary said, we may also need to share the love in a language that is more accessible to people who haven’t been to shul in five, ten, fifteen years.
    for me personally, i’m not going to join a shul for bells and whistles – if i ever do join a shul, i’m going to join a shul that has egalitarian services, a committment to social justice, and dedicated lay people. but for now, i’m content with KZ and other various projects.

  7. “The stylishly decorated synagogue hopes to attract people who may have been turned off from Judaism in their youth. ” – And apparently it’s doing a great job of offending people who were turned ON to Judaism in their youth as well.
    Holy shit! This place has wavy-chairs! And french toast! Why couldn’t the Sisterhood of my shul have thought of that!?! No wonder I have such a love/hate relationship with Judaism – I was forced to sit on a bench and eat bagels and lox with the Men’s club! Didn’t they know I really just needed a $15 Mojito to keep me involved?!?
    “We wanted it to be a place where somebody who had never been to synagogue before, or someone who went to synagogue as a child and had a bad experience, would come,” Mrs. Scheiner said. – You know what? I’m sick of hearing this utterly insipid excuse about having had a “bad experience” in shul while growing up. What – you had to learn Hebrew and study for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah? Boo hoo hoo! Pardon me, but unless you got diddled by the Rabbi in his study, or were smart enough to have had an ideological problem at the age of 8 which your Talmud-Torah teacher totally shot down without even considering – then STFU and get on your side of the mechizah!
    “This is a very anti-establishment, anti-organized-religion type of community.” – Yeah, I can see how a bunch of i-bankers and an editor from Random House would be considered “anti-establishment”. Up the system! Oi! Oi! Oi! Free James Frey!
    I CANNOT wait to see this on gawker in the morning. That and the riots in Crown Heights ought to be enough to make me die of embarrassment.

  8. Judaism should totally caveman potential Jews. Not the skateboard move – Just wack them over the head and drag them back to the Sanctuary. Some people have claimed most alien abduction stories come from this technique being used by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Starship Synagogue – Beth Shalom.

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