Signs that Jewish trendiness is dying

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Okay, I just followed a Google Ad which led to a website advertising this book — a 636-page edition, limited to 1200 copies, of photographs mainly of Hasidim, Black Jews, and Amy Winehouse, titled (simply) “A Book of Jews” and priced (elegantly) at $550 USD.

a book of jewsNow, I am the least likely person to argue against the idea of a fancy, overpriced book. As a person with — ahem — a personal stake in the publishing industry, I think that publisher Richard Nash’s call for more really cheap books and more really expensive, nice-looking luxury books is spot-on. I also don’t think there’s something intrinsically unfair or dishonest about making Jews trendy or turning the funny-looking parts of Judaism (payos, chicken-flinging, Barbra Streisand) into hip and trendy-seeming things.

But more than anything that’s been thrown our way so far, “A Book of Jews” seems, well, extravagant. What to get the Jew who has everything — who also happens to have several hundred dollars that they don’t know what to do with, and the far-more-unlikelier situation of a coffee table unadorned by an oversize book. (I mean, come on, doesn’t every rich person already own those beautiful Sandman comic books that I totally lust after for their coffee tables?)

In any case, I think it’s a safe time to declare the Cool Jew trend dead — even if it did produce some neat books, fun pop-song mash-ups, and, as of tonight, some amazing performer line-ups. Let’s see the evidence:

  • The Heeb Hundred are all completely obscure in-jokes. The Forward 50 was one big duh of way-too-obvious candidates (Rahm Emanuel, Ruth Bader Ginsburg), self-congratulatory candidates (Aaron Rubashkin), and so-five-years-ago candidates (Sarah Silverman).
  • Even Jewlicious has officially called it a day: “[T]he chickens have come to roost and contemporary Jewish culture has inevitably become bland and uninteresting -….I think I am contemplating the end of the Jews as a force to be reckoned with.”
  • Meredith says that she saw Jewish trendiness on clearance at Old Navy. “Old Navy,” she says, “is where trends go to die. Gray tight jeans. They used to be cool and hipster, and then Old Navy started carrying them. Now they’re no longer socially acceptable. Wearing scarves indoors, vintage shirts with funny sayings on them — trend over. Goodbye.” Just so you know, she adds, if you go to Old Navy and see an I *heart* Hashem t-shirt — that will be its epitaph.

Any more evidence — for, against, or impartial? I know there’s got to be a huge dossier on this.

Posted on November 20, 2008

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