Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Yaakov Menken:

"Today's [snip] are all doing the newest, hippest activities as a pale imitation of what the non-Jews are doing, and everyone knows it. The activities may have changed, but the underlying behavior hasn't moved an inch. They are trying nothing new they are following the trends of [popular] culture"

Oh my. What has poor Yaakov so upset? When he describes Jews who are simply doing activities that non-Jews do, and following the trends of culture, is he talking about...

(a) 21st century Jews, who've converted the hats once worn by gangsters into religious vestements?

(b) Hasidim who, in the 18th and 19th century, blatantly ripped off non-Jewish dress, non-Jewish music, and non-Jewish superstitions?

(c) 16th century residents of Safed who copied the local Arab and Musta’ribi celebrations at the grave of Shmuel Hanavi, celebrations that included bonfires and haircuts?

(d) Solomon Ibn Gabirol, who in the 11th century borrowed from his Islamic mentors the terms and ideas that became the basic building blocks of the Kabbalistic system?

(e) any of the other numerous examples of Jewish borrowing from local cultures described here?

(f) Jewish drum bangers, rap singers and modern dancers?

The answer of course is (f) but only because Yaakov is repeating the same mistake he always makes and imagining that Judaism was utterly unchanged until our current day when, for the first time ever, it has been polluted by outside forces. It's the same mistake my Haredi neighbor made Sunday when he objected in my presence to Holocaust Kinos because they were "too new." Had he lived in the 12th century, I imagine he would have protested Crusade Kinos, too.