Joe Aaron, editor and publisher of the Chicago Jewish News is a brilliant but controversial writer. He writes a weekly column on various Jewish topics in the back of his paper. While I don't always agree with him, I admire his skill in presenting his view. And very often - I do agree with him. This is one of those times.
The following is an excerpt from last week's column. This one... I agree with.
Do we have to demean Judaism in order to save it? I have always hated Heeb magazine. That's the magazine begun as a way to reach out to young Jews who don't care about Judaism. It's supposed to grab them by being hip, irreverent, cutting edge.
Instead, it's mostly disgusting.
First, the name. How sad to use a slur as a way to attract young Jews. Those who hate us have called us Heeb, which is why we shouldn't use it any more than any self-respecting black publication would use the n-word as its title. I know, I know, using Heeb is supposed to be a way for us to take away the word's power, make it an object of ridicule.
Baloney. It's an ugly word and sends a loud and wrong message to young Jews about what Judaism is about. Even worse, the magazine seems to feel mocking Judaism, diminishing Judaism is the route to getting young Jews to want to embrace Judaism.
Again, I know young people need to be approached in ways they can relate to, in the methods they are used to in today's world. That's fine. But while the means can be unconventional, the goal should be to show young Jews the beauty of Judaism, why living Jewish lives will be so enriching to their lives, will give them meaning and joy.
Instead, among the things Heeb has done is host a Chanukah party featuring a game of "Strip Dreidel," with Jewish porn stars, publish a cover with Roseanne Barr dressed as Hitler and baking burnt Jew cookies ... I could go on, but I won't.
Tasteless doesn't begin to describe it. Nauseating comes closer.
Yes, the Jewish world has done a horrible job of finding effective ways of reaching young Jews and making the case to them for being Jewish, but coming out with a magazine named for a slur and celebrating Jewish porn stars, does not convey the essence of Judaism, nor does it tell young Jews that Judaism is anything but to be laughed at.