Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where Cool Jews Roam

There are cool Jews and there are cool Jews.

And then there are those, like fellow penster Ruth Andrew Ellenson, who blow my mind. I finished my book and sent it to my publisher last August. In November, Ruth wrote a piece for Sh'ma. Her article
miraculously channeled many of my own thoughts on the whole "cool Jew" phenom.

But Ruth hadn't read my unpublished manuscript. And I hadn't read her piece. Heck, we didn't even know each other. But the good folks at the Jewlicious Festival were already working their magic to make that happen... we did finally meet at 4.0 and I knew I had found a fellow traveler.

As you can read here, the lovely and talented editor of the Modern Jewish Girls Guide to Guilt clearly has telepathic powers or a spy chip inside my brain. Or maybe we just share some bizarre tuning fork to the zeitgeist.

November 2007

Kislev 5768

Reflecting on Cool

By Ruth Andrew Ellenson

Let me begin by pointing out the

irony of my authorship of this article. Really

folks: is there anything that ensures your

status as a geek more than writing an article

on Jewish coolness for Sh’ma?

My four younger siblings would love

nothing more than to confirm this impression

of me and how utterly unqualified I am

to write anything that even contains the

word cool in it. But because this is a public

record of sorts, I’d like to point out that I’m

not the only one in my family who suffers

this fate. When my sister was twelve she

listed for my father all the reasons he was

uncool. Chief on her list of complaints was

that he called his jeans, dungarees. The girl

had a point.

Besides, “Jewish cool” is something

of an oxymoron. The first word connotes

community, tradition, and following moral

and religious dictates; the second word

praises life beyond rules and conventions,

not being beholden to anyone else’s

standards. All that said, it doesn’t mean that

the concept of “cool Jews” didn’t grab hold

and is still very much afoot.

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