how hip can kiruv get?

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My New York neighborhood — the Columbia U. ‘hood, sandwiched between the Upper West Side and Harlem — has been simply invaded by bus-stop advertisements for something called ‘Young Jewish Professionals.’ The ad features some young, pleasant- (though only vaguely Jewish-) looking twentysomethings having a rollicking good time — bright, white smiles; cheery intra-group glances — doing some ostensibly Jewish activity. (I think there’s a flame, or a challah, or whatever.) There’s a good boy-girl ratio (which gives the whole thing away — Jewish social events never have a healthy gender mix), etc. There’s no clear message in the ads, no tagline, no motto, no tangible product being sold. But wait — there’s a link! And the site provides… bubkes. Who’s running this? Is this a for-profit organization? And why is there no contact information?? All they have is a ‘connect‘ option, which has you fill in your deets; effectively, you’re applying to be in a Jewish social group. Eyebrows: up. Me suspicious.

This is more than a little reminiscent of another Jewish organization I’ve encountered (and grown very very suspicious of): The Soho Synagogue. Again, their site offers no contact info, just the same ‘connect’ page. (And I’ve filled this form out before — to no response. Ego, take that. You’re not even cool enough for a shul.) I’ve attended an outrageously priced Hanukkah party, hosted by the Soho Synagogue at some downright sick Chelsea apartment, and was just utterly confused as to what the higher mission was. Where’s all this money going? And to what end? Is there some hidden kiruv motive? Is this an independent organization? Or is someone bigger backing this? And what/where is the Soho Synagogue? In fact, as far as I can tell, there isn’t any actual, physical synagogue; just a very cool chabadsker charming the guests, being a macher.

What’s up with this? Has Jewish identity been diluted to the point that we’ll only participate in events that smack of exclusivity and (faux-)sophistication? And, godammit, what do they want?!?


Written by menachemkaiser

7 September at 01:44

Posted in rants

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