Shalom, my jiggaz!
(Get it? Like, “niggaz,” but Jewish, because as a young urban Jew, I find the best way to make a strong statement about my Jewish identity is to lift and superficially Judaize American black culture! I love Yiddishkeit like ODB loved crack, son!)
Anyway, y’all, I just wanted to represent for my hood and my peoples – wealthy-East-Coast-suburbanites-transplanted-to-the-Uppa-Wes’ whuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuttt – and tell you about how we throw down here in Jew York Ir Ha-Koidesh.
I like to start my day with some coffee like anyone else, and lately I’ve been going to this funky little place on Amsterdam – I’m Jewish, so I’m really into social justice, you know? – and this place is an organic concern that supports indigenous farmers in Cambodia and grows all its beans in something called “the killing fields” (apparently there’s like something really good for coffee in the soil there). It’s called Pol’s Coffee Pot, and I’m just really glad I can be contributing to tikkun olam and getting a surprisingly decent mochaccino too!
After that, I go to this awesome indie transdenominational minyan I set up wif some of my fellow Brews. We have shacharis every morning at about 1:30 PM, because most of us don’t roll out of bed ’til around noon (be sure to drop by someday!). We set up this crazy concept there (not to brag, but it was all me, baby) to solve the conflict between tradition and modern demands for egalitarianism in worship: the dodecachitza. The way it works is, the rabbi (which is a rotating role filled by a different minyan member every week) stands on a rotating bima in the middle of the room, so he faces each section of the dodecachitza. There’s a section each for the men, the women, the Gs, the Ls, the Bs, the Ts, the straight people who identify queer, considering-op transsexuals, lipstick lesbians, NYU students, interested gentiles, and homeless guys who came in for kiddush. It’s just really inspiring to see Jews of all different kinds getting together to praise God, or whichever deity or deities their personal beliefs lead them to worship.
And keep this on the DL, but I think I met someone last Shabbos at the minyan. There was this really cute girl, uh, I mean, delicious Hebrew shawty, wearing these funky rainbow distressed non-leather tefillin, so I went over to talk with her after the Haftorah, which that Shabbos was actually a reading from Norman Finklestein’s Beyond Chutzpah. Anyway, it turns out she’s not really a she, not yet anyway, but I’m totally cool with that, and she passes really well anyway. I totally invited her-to-be to this potluck I’m organizing with my JTS chevrusa buddies – I’m making spareribs! You see, the guys in my chevrusa have been trying to work eating pork into the evolving framework of halacha, and since halacha is a flexible system that encompasses all facets of Jewish life, we’ve decided that the Torah prohibition, which is like based on outdated health codes and an illegitimate Israelite sense of racial/religious superiority, no longer applies to the modern egal halakhic Jew, so feel free to chow down on that ish!
After that, if I don’t have my JTS classes, I try to catch up with whatever protest for Palestinian rights is going on (I keep my kaffiyeh in my man purse just in case!). As a Jew with a grandmother who survived Birkenau, I can’t abide by what’s being done in the name of my religion and people by the Israeli Gestapo in the territories. I mean, I’ve never been to Palestine, but I read a lot of blogs about it, so I feel like I’m really caught up with what’s going down there. Since Judaism’s mission is to spread the light of social democracy to the Western world (read it in the Tanakh, bitch!) I feel that Zionism, as an expression of Jewish nationalism, which clearly has no precedent in Jewish religion or thought, is totally illegitimate. NOT IN MY NAME!!
And then I head down to the Workmen’s Circle to chill out with the old people and speak a bisel Yiddish. Actually, that’s all the Yiddish I know, but I’m learning, and I can tell the old people really like me, because every time I come in somebody yells out “Here’s the little putz! Fransn zol esn zayn layb!” I’m really into the old Yiddish culture. Have you ever read Isaac Bashevis Singer? He is straight ill.
When night falls, that’s when this hepcat goes out and experiences the rich cultural life of Jew York, the center of the Jewish World! Seriously, dawg, you would not believe all the dope shit my fellow Brews are coming out with in the music world here. Last night, I went to see this seriously sick band called Lion of Zion – they mash up klezmer and reggae (it’s called klezgae!). It’s so totally out there and cutting edge. I was with this friend, and she said “it sounds like what would happen if you beat Bob Marley to death with a clarinet,” but she jus’ straight trippin’. And they had this rapper baal teshuva kid from YU spitting insane flows about Hashem over the Jewmaican groove. I was really feelin’ it, naaawmean? I mean, our ability to mix one single indigenous musical form with black music really shows that we’re the sickest culturemakers they is out there, knowwhatI’msayin’?
So anyway, that’s how we do in Jew York. It’s mad invigorating to be one of the young people straight redefining Judaism for the new generation and making sure the suits don’t tell us what it means to be a Jew. I mean, when I see the same 100 people at every single indie minyan, shul, event and dinner, I know that we are the new fuckin’ Jewish revolution, y’all! We are the vanguard! And I’ma tell you right now, we’re saving Judaism from the rest of you! So you know you want to be a part of this ish, because it’s the wave of the future.
Shalom out, bitches!