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What can I say? I am a bit of a child molester, only in that I swoon a little for the deliciously handsome young soldiers who sit next to me at some point every day on the bus while I go to and fro. On Yom Ha Shoah, like any other day, across from me was a particularly scrumptious specimen, but what caught my eye most was the sweatshirt he was wearing. A white hoodie and on the right part of the breast, a navy blue logo; a thin lined Magen david, the word ‘Jude’ inside in that font that is all too familiar, and what appeared to be either flames or a wreath surrounding the star.

It reminded me how a few years back when CK and I were concepting our short-lived T-Shirt line, that I had suggested something similar. You know, that tongue-in-cheek Jewish hipster ironic quality we get accused of from time to time…I said, “Let’s model a shirt after the NYPD shirts that were so popular post-9-11 with the yellow shield on the right breast area, but instead a Jude star – let’s turn it from a badge of oppression into a badge of honor.” Flatfootedly something like gays ‘taking back’ the word ‘queer.’ Sure, the idea had its problematics, but to me it was food for thought, and like any good provocateurs, I though we should roll with it.

No less than CK himself vetoed the idea. Something to the nature of, “C’mon, Alli, you know me, but that’s taking it a little too far.” I remember being at a dinner party and mentioning the idea and noticing how words can create silence. No one found it funny, cute, interesting, subversive, or clever – in fact, it pissed them off. Truth be told, I’m not so controversial by nature, so I took a hint, accepted CK’s dictatorial veto, and filed it into the file in my brain of ‘what if’s.

But seeing the handsome Israeli youth on the bus with this similar idea on his shirt – it opened my eyes a bit. Forget the clever Jewish shmatafest for a moment. This was a young guy, probably just about to go into the army, wearing a shirt that looked like it was produced by a youth group, or what-not, and I was watching him converse with his friends sitting opposite him, so lively and alive. And I thought, how amazing it was for some reason, and how sad it was, to see this on that particular day, Yom Hashoah. It also made me proud.

I recently asked my boyfriend, who is Israeli, if he felt connected to his Jewish identity and he said yes but more connected to his Israeli identity as something distinctly different. He said something to the tune of, “For 5,000 years of Jewish history, what do we have to show for it? Mere survival. But look what we’ve built here in just over 50 years,” – and granted, this can be fiercely argued, but the bottom line is that Yom Ha Shoah is one time a year where religious or secular, this that or the other, we are Israelis here and we are Jews, and both are undeniable and it is something very beautiful.

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6 Comments

  • Lovely piece, Alli. I loved the opening sentence about you being a bit of a child molester for loving Israeli soldiers. But with an Israeli boyfriend, you’re at least channeling the feelings properly and legally. So hearty yasher koach to ya.

    And I do wonder “how far is too far.” And “how far CK thinks is too far”…surprisingly, not always the same thing.

  • Is it such a bad idea? I mean to turn the symbol from hate to pride? The blacks did it with the ‘N’ word, why cant we do it? why cant we shove it back in all the jew haters face. It is a statement. I would wear it. I am a jew and I am proud, and if anyone has a problem, we can fight about it.

  • very well-written.
    it may interest you to know that the highest israeli military decoration, Ot Hagvurah (Medal of Valor), is basicly a silver Magen David with a yellow strap. and the idea was to take that symbol of shame and opression and make it a sign of valor and honor.

  • Well, yeah, thats nice, but it is not the same thing. Having a yellow star with Jude written in the middle, patched on the arm of a sleeved hoody is turning the very same symbol into a symbol of pride. So the israeli insignia is nice, but in my opinion, it is completely removed from the Jude symbol.

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