Monday, June 07, 2004

Educating for what, exactly? (with links)

I picked up last week a copy of The Jerusalem Report, one of the few decent Jewish publications around. They had a flattering portrait of the Yosef I. Abramowitz who is carving out a nice niche for himself in publishing flashy & thought provoking Jewish periodicals. It appears that he is avant-garde Judaism for the Federation types.

Now, I must confess that I have never met YIA, and I have no doubt that he is a nice guy. And I do enjoy reading Sh’ma on occasion and Babaganewz is a nice eye candy for the kiddies. But upon thinking about the article a bit, I wondered, what exactly is YIA educating towards?

The last paragraph of the article is the kicker: “says, Abramowitz, who views assimilation as his arch-villain.” OK, assimilation is bad. So we need to educate Jews about Judaism, because, why exactly? So, lets pull up the JFLMedia mission & vision statements:

Mission Statement
To spark and nurture Jewish identity and build interactive Jewish communities by providing access to multimedia resources and tools to the global Jewish community and to those interested in the Jewish way of life.

Vision Statement
Our vision is the creation of the infrastructure to facilitate universal membership in the Jewish people. The necessary first step toward this vision is to establish and foster life-long relationships, upon a foundation of strong brand awareness and loyalty, between JFL properties and a significant share of the Jewish market.

As I have mentioned in the past, I have no issues with pluralism in Jewish identity and people creating their own Jewish identities based upon what they view as Jewish & based upon their Jewish experiences. However, I do find it a bit bizarre to pour so much effort and energy into educating Jewish children & adults into… (pause) what exactly? It’s not religion. It’s not Jewish peoplehood? But clearly ITS IMPORTANT. But why?

As a bonus here is The Revealer’s take on the JFLMedia mags (which is pretty accurate):

Sh'ma: Serious essays by serious Jews. Often seriously good.

Generation J comes from the same edgy-as-earnest conglomerate that produces Sh'ma, but it's more "lifestyle" oriented. The young people, they love it. Well, maybe not -- but they produce some good features, and their "Daily Buzz" is a useful synthesis of the news.

JVibe is Generation J, Jr. (does that make it Generation I? for "irritating"?), and it strikes us a rather obvious attempt to convince "kidz" that Judaism is cool. Which means it's an excellent glimpse into the mindset of middle-aged Jewish-Americans concerned with "continuity."

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