What Young White Jewish Adults Like (About Themselves)

Are Jews White?The Jewish knock-off of the hot, blog-du-jour Stuff White People Like has appeared. I was fairly certain this would happen and was hence unsurprised to find Stuff Young Jewish Adults Like sent to me by several different people in the last 24 hours. While it was gratifying to see #8 on the list was a ringing endorsement of our choice of a headliner for the June 1 Celebrationof Israel @ 60; I missed the burning sarcasm of the original. Every entry on SWPL is a cutting indictment of poserism and hypocrisy, as evidenced by the items detailed: Hating Corporations, Knowing What’s Best for Poor People, Not Having a TV and, of course Having Black Friends. Actually, a brief survey of the entire list of Stuff White People Like is arguably indistinguishable from a list of what most Young Jewish Adults really do like. I’m not sure if SYJAL is so much milder in its cataloguing because of a greater benevolence of spirit, or because SWPL had already gotten to all the really good ones (Sarah Silverman, The Wire, The Sunday New York Times and Manhattan–Now Brooklyn Too!). Which of course begs the question.

Are Young Jewish Adults just white people? Or are they the authentic distillation of what other white people want to be–Jewish intellectuals? You could probably make the argument either way, although I’m inclined to lean towards the former rather than the later. However, because it is more interesting, let’s examine a few examples from SWPL:

#75–Threatening to Move to Canada: Now, I’ve made this threat. The first time I visited Toronto I called my wife and told her I had a plan to join the army, go AWOL and seek asylum in Canada, because I had fallen in-love with the city during a gorgeous spring weekend. At different points in my life, I’ve also threatened to move to Israel–although moving to a country with mandatory conscription is much less PC. As Israelis will tell you, American Jews think of Israel as their “insurance policy” in case the U.S. kicks us out and Canada won’t take us. But many of us come from families where a grandparent (and sometimes a parent or ourselves) actually had to leave a country because of oppressive political conditions. And, however much we may not like this or that politician, we know that the inability to pronounce “nuclear” does not make for an oppressive regime.

#2–Religions Their Parents Don’t Belong To: Of course millions of philanthropy dollars are spent every year to make absolutely sure that Young Jewish Adults continue to affiliate with their parents’ (or parent’s) Jewish identity. In fact, I want to be the first to start the conspiracy theory that SYJAL is bankrolled by some well-intended Jewish agency seeking to do exciting “outreach and engagement” by taking something cool and making it Jewish. I can even imagine the committee meeting where eager young Jews debate whether they should call the site Stuff Jewish People Like (a more direct analog of the original) as opposed to Stuff Young Jewish Adults Like (more telegraphed to their target demo, uses the accepted community terminology, clearly distinguished from what people in Boca Raton like). Even if I’m wrong in this specific case, dozens of Jewish agencies will be flogging their under-35 staff for not thinking of this first. I’ll finish by commenting, that with a large portion of young Jewish adults marrying non-Jews, Judaism is quite often the religion the aforementioned white person’s parents do not belong to.

Other than #89–Saint Patrick’s Day, a holiday I’ve never noticed a particular young Jewish affinity for, there isn’t much else on the list that doesn’t apply to a vast swath of Young Jewish Adults (e.g. younger than 40) that I know. And truth be told, Stuff White People Like may very well have already Jumped the Shark.

Which would go a long way to explaining its book deal, publicist, lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of imitators and attention on institutional Jewish blogs.

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