Hello? Anglo-Jewish Hipsters? Malcolm McLaren is on the phone and he wants his graphics back!

Damn. I was just in London and I missed this? The Guardian last week reported on an event that demonstrates clearly that the Lower East Side no longer has a monopoly on Jewish Hipsterism.

The invitation to “the beginning of the Jewish countercultural revolution” reads as follows: “From the 1890s until the first world war a group of renegade Jews were active in the heart of the Yiddish east end.” They “defined themselves against the Jewish establishment, holding Yom Kippur balls, featuring pork, music and dancing … This radical tradition has remained dormant for almost 100 years, as Anglo-Jewry has become increasingly suburban, conservative and dull. Until now …”

This crazy radical event, called Punkpurim, took place in a real-life anarchist artists’ squat in London’s east end, where, in between musical sets of Klezmer music and bawdy Yiddish songs, as well as the reciting of Palestinian Poetry, the DJ played Chumbawumba and the Sex Pistols… sooo cutting edge! Nah, I’m kidding. They played D&B versions of Havah Nagilah. The room was adorned with the requisite irreverent stuff like posters featuring the Lubavitcher Rebbe smoking a spliff and Che Guevara as a Hassidic Jew. There were also joint papers all over the floor.

punks of purim
The hard partying saviors of Anglo-Jewry. Who let the friggin hippies in?
images thiefed from this dude’s Flickr page.

This groundbreaking event, sponsored by Heeb (of course) and Jewdas represented a revolt against traditional Jewish organizations:

“We are trying to create a new, more radical form of Jewish identity,” says Joseph Finlay, of Jewdas. “The main obsessions of British Jews are defending the state of Israel and making Jewish babies. We aim to knock these idols down and reopen the debate on who owns Judaism, who has the right to speak for the Jewish community and who is a Jew – surely anyone committed to justice? “We’re also trying to bring in a new sense of fun,” he continues, “playing with tradition rather than sanctifying it. Once Judaism is sacred, it is already dead.”

So who owns Judaism? According to these guys it’s Jewish anti-Israel activists, shitfaced ravers, drug addled yobs and the moldy, old British Jewish left. It’s kinda funny too. This party was meant as a slap in the face to the Board of Deputies, the leading representative of Anglo Jewry. Yet in 1917 the one Jewish member of Lloyd George’s Cabinet was Sir Edwin Montagu and he virulently opposed the passage of the Balfour Declaration which promised British support for the creation of a Jewish homeland. In that respect he was not alone. Other opponents to the Balfour Declaration were … you guessed it, the Board of Deputies. This opposition only abated once the full horror of the Holocaust came to light.

So stupid British hipsters… what will it take for you to like me, given that I am a Zionist and I live in Israel? Whatever… one participant emailed me about the party and said the following:

I think this may well be the hidden face of Jewish hipsterism in the UK. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I thought I knew and understood what the Jews in this country were about and then suddenly hundreds – I mean literally hundreds – of unknown faces gathered together in an East London squat with virtually no sanitation, and not even any food. There was philosophy, film, political cabaret, hip hop. There was a bonfire, and drugs… and they’re working it now… of course, there were many real live jews there who wouldn’t dream of eating pork on yom kippur but no doubt feel illicit pleasure at the thought. it had the veneer of radicalism but nobody did anything radical

Heh. Maybe they should have invited colorful London Mayor and “low-level anti-semite” Ken Livingstone to recite some Palestinian Poetry whilst revellers danced the Horah around a burning flag of Israel. Now that would have been radical.

So what do we have finally? Some more of that pie-in-the-sky, substanceless crap that a certain type of Jew loves. Except now it has an English accent. Yawn-O-Ramma. Look, give me something I can get my teeth into. Challenge me with something more than derivative, boring graphics and activities and language that have shock-value, but nothing more.

Till then, piss the fuck off.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

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