Posts tagged “jewish”

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Non-Jews Begin to Embrace Ketubah Wedding Tradition [] – [Cultural appropriation of religious traditions as we continue to seek meaning through symbols] The decade of non-Jews discovering the ketubah coincides with three relevant social trends: the rise of Christian Zionism, the growth of interfaith marriage, and the mainstreaming of the New Age movement with its search for spirituality in multiple faith traditions. As a result, an increasing number of gentiles have taken up Judaic practices: holding a Passover Seder, eating kosher food and studying kabbalah, the Jewish mystical movement. “A lot of these things are grass-rootsy,” said Prof. Jenna Weissman Joselit, a historian at George Washington University, who has written extensively on Jewish popular culture. “They have to do with the growing popularity of intermarriage — openness, pluralism, cultural improvisation. And for those who are more religiously literate, they add another level of authenticity or legitimacy.”
  • [from steve_portigal] More Focus Groups for ‘Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark’ [] – [What is the meaning of using consumer research? Do we admire producers for being user-centered or do we decry them for being desperate?] The producers of the Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” are offering $60 goodie bags to people who serve in focus groups that will respond to several performances. Two focus groups attended Thursday night’s performance, and four more are scheduled to be at Friday night’s show and the Saturday matinee. It’s not unheard of for Broadway producers to use focus groups, and the musical has used them before since preview performances began on Nov. 28. But these are the first since largely negative reviews of the show by theater critics across the country were published on Tuesday. OnTrack Research, a marketing and consulting firm, is coordinating the focus groups, and here’s the rub: participants only get to see Act I or Act II, not both. They are then asked to fill out surveys and join in discussions in a “V.I.P. room.”

My deli is more authentic than your deli

From a San Francisco Chronicle interview with Noah Alper, founder of Noah’s Bagels

Q: You write about how important it was that the stores be authentically New York, and authentically Jewish. What did you have to do to make that happen?
A: It involved not being afraid to be unapologetically Jewish. It sounds simplistic, but we acted as if we were operating the store in a Jewish neighborhood – we had Hanukkah candles at the appropriate time of year, challahs on Friday, charity boxes in every store.
We also operated a strictly kosher establishment. We were the largest kosher retailer in the Untied States when we sold the business. That was an added level of complexity. But it not only captured a very loyal kosher community, it also added to the authenticity.

Although I first encountered Noah’s before they were sold (which ended many of these practices), I don’t recall noticing this level of authenticity. Perhaps it’s eroded so far that my early memories have been wiped out. But this discussion of authenticity and Jewish deli on the west coast reminds me of my first encounters in the mid-90s with Portland, OR-based Kornblatt’s. The PDXers I met seemed to cherish Kornblatt’s as a local treasure and I’m sure any criticism here will upset them to no end. My apologies, but Kornblatt’s always struck me as a place for people that hadn’t ever been to New York, liked it that way, but wanted some element of what people supposedly ate over thar. The place evoked what you might call checklist-authenticity: bagels (check), celery tonic (check), New York street signs (check), soft-spoken-shrugging-Jackie-Mason-meets-Ben-meets-Jerry-meets-Jerry-Garcia-proprietor (wha????).

While Noah’s decor is the same cartoonish parody of what New York’s Lower East Side, at least Alper had a sense of how to go beyond that. And ultimately, what it took to export New York deli authenticity to the Bay Area is completely different what it took to expoert New York deli authenticity to Portland. Different markets, different culture, different context, different definition of authenticity.

See also:

NPR : Stealing Thunder from Satirists in the Mideast

I listened to part of Fresh Air today

A new tactic has emerged in the angry debate over cartoons depicting religious figures, as an Israeli artist launches a contest for the best anti-Semitic cartoon — drawn by a Jew. Amitai Sandy says the Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest is a response to an Iranian newspaper’s competition for cartoons on the Holocaust.

Sandy, who is also the publisher of Dimona Comix, describes the issue as a matter of pride. He insists that Jews can offer sharper, more offensive satire of themselves than anyone. After the contest’s deadline of March 5, 2006, the winners will be displayed in Tel Aviv.

As the interview wrapped up, Sandy explained that Jews already control the American humor industry with Seinfeld, the movie studios, etc. But with his Israeli accent and serious Israeli manner of speech, any irony was lost. And Gross gave no acknowledgement to the words he was using, simply thanked him for being with them. It was a sort of awkward moment, you kind of wonder, is he serious, or is he lacking in English vocablary where he didn’t mean to say that Jews control, but since the whole thing is about Jews making jokes against Jews (in this case for a larger political purpose), it’s obvious (intellectually, if not emotionally) what the real intention was. But the lack of reaction from the host just kind of left me feeling weird.

Perhaps if I heard the story from the beginning (available at the link above) I might have a different take on it. Did anyone else hear this? Did you notice this particular comment?


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