CNN's "New Jews" & Our Tattoos
By Craig Dershowitz
Today, CNN Living's "New Jews" feature describes the complex and unorthodox brand of self-identification practiced by an ever-growing segment of Jewish youth. While it is a fun story, it is a red herring that overextends its point.
While theirs is a post-Holocaust, post-Israel, post-religious segmentation community unique to Jews of this time, it is not unique to the youth of this time. Jews, more greatly assimilated then ever before, are finding themselves wrestling with a macro environment that is also brand new. That it affects their micro community is no surprise. They are being asked to find a way to marry religious, cultural, spiritual and political beliefs within a rapidly fluctuating social dynamic.
Just as youth activists, street artists and non-traditional political action committees were influential in the selection of America's latest president, why wouldn't socially active Jews be influential in the selection of their new G-d, be it secular or religious. Just as radical thinkers and new ideas are replacing tired old men and redundant programming across the literary and artistic spectrum, so too is this happening within the Jewish community.
Graffiti is now in advertisements. Cursing is on the radio. Near nudity is on TV. Newspapers are being ruined as evidenced by this article appearing on a blog. New sources for news, entertainment and comprehensive lifestyles are being accepted globally so, of course, it is happening within the Jewish community as well.
If there is anything to discuss, it is how quickly Jews develop within these new communities. Jews are early adapters. Whether the traditional groups will accept these new ideas and
leaders is the same question that appears in all communities as the former bosses must either stifle or make way for the new upstarts.
A prime example of one of these upstarts is ARTISTS 4 ISRAEL, a non-profit organization that allows the many talents of their members to advocate for Israel in various mediums including
graffiti, life drawing classes featuring nude models, hip-hop, street theater and, of course, tattooing.
As all news outlets tend to do, they focus on tattooing and Judaism. Although the truth behind Jewish observance and tattooing has been revealed time and again (most comprehensively HERE), it continues to remain the hook of any story where both a Semite and a needle appear simultaneously. As a proud and tattooed Jew, an advocate for inking your beliefs directly onto your body, I am shocked that we continue to be such a circus attraction. A majority of the Jews I know have tattoos and that is not, as the CNN article would have you believe, because there is some groundswell change in the Jewish community but, rather, because more youth have tattoos today. The level of artistry has risen in the tattoo community and has attracted more people than ever before.
Stop searching for boogeymen, people. Halloween will be over soon.
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