Culture, Israel, Religion

Something kosher…Do I want? No sir.

Mi Rotzeh Lihiyot Yehudi?As some of you know, I’m travelling in Israel right now. (And by travelling, I mean stuffing my face.)
Last night was all about kabobs. My friend Ran is sitting at this Tel Aviv restaurant counter with me indulgently, watching the TV over our heads while I devour this really good laffa sandwich. This show comes on, Mi Rotzeh Lihiyot Yehudi? (Who Wants to be a Jew?) Ran explains to me that it’s a funny Jewish talk show/game show type deal with this has-been stand up comic named Gil Kopash and his band, the Jewish Joint. OMG-D! It’s a Jewish hipster TV show! I drop my sandwich (this is saying a lot) and deuptize him as translator.
Look, any of you who live in Israel have probably already seen this show and formed your own opinion of it. I do not presume to be an expert about any of this stuff, I’ve been here for 5 days. But I’m watching Kopash in his stupid Ben Yehuda street tourist tee shirt, heckling celebrity guests (a secular actress, a gay dude, and a hasid) with funny questions about Judaism while sharing a bottle of kosher wine, lots of funny schtick with Rebbe Nachman versus Tomy Lapid, poppy music played by dudes in tzit tzit, monty python graphics, and I’m thinking HOW have I not heard about this?! Why is this not available on the Internet?! And of course, WHY is he not wearing on of MY TEE SHIRTS?
And Ran looks at me incredulously. “This show sucks, it’s totally not gonna get, how do you say, emmmm….renewed. No one likes it and Gil Kopash is SO over!”
And after an informal poll at the bar, I found that 3 out of 3 Israelis agree. This hipster Judaism thing that is so energizing to American college students, and so upsetting to American critics, did not register with a single person I asked. No one cared, or found any of it particularly fun or compelling. That’s it in a nutshell – here I am in a country where a TV show which would be a fun, edgy-ish thing to produce at home in California (or even New York) – is ignored, or even sniffed at. Now that’s hip.

5 thoughts on “Something kosher…Do I want? No sir.

  1. There has actually been a weekly segment on American Jewry on the the Saturday night news on Channel one. It’s been really interesting but last week’s was kind of embarrassing. It focused on a Birthright reunion in Florida where among other things the attendees drank He’Brew Beer and watched some ABSURD “jewish burlesque” show. After the segment the news anchor quipped “The funny and strange world of American Jewry.”
    There was also an episode of the documentary series called “8 reasons to get up in the morning” on what you call “hipster judaism” (I think you might have been in it! Was the pickle soaps yours? Dog tallis?) which noted that nearly everything connected to hipster judaism has dollar signs attached to it.
    On the side…Gil Kopash is so 1999, but he was THE stand up comic of 1999. Everyone tuned in to catch his commentary and interpetation of the torah portion of the week.

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