Arts & Culture

How to Save Judaism: Better Marketing!

Jews don’t seem to care as much about Judaism as they used to. This smacked me on the head recently when I learned that a friend of mine’s step-father (born to a Jewish family) recently "accepted Christ" and attends an … Read More

By / May 28, 2009


Jews don’t seem to care as much about Judaism as they used to.

This smacked me on the head recently when I learned that a friend of mine’s step-father (born to a Jewish family) recently "accepted Christ" and attends an Evangelical Christian church.

Based on history, the two best ways to destroy Jewish populations are to kill or convert. Outside of extreme Islamo-Facsist nations, we really don’t have to worry too much about Holocaust Part II. 

Conversion, on the other hand, is our own damn fault, and marketing is the only way to stop it.

Marketing has a principle called the Four P’s: product (what you’re actually selling), price (cost), promotion (what you use to convey your ideas) and placement (where your product stands in the market). For a company or movement to be successful, it has to have the right product, at the right price, promoted and placed well in the market.

Jews are leaving the "Jewish lifestyle" for three religions: secularism/atheism, Christianity, and Buddhism. So how does Judaism fail to meet the Four P’s and how have these other religions been successful? Let’s compare:

PRODUCT

Atheism: you get to be just like everyone else, living for yourself and nothing more. No rules, no responsibilities, just fun!

Christianity: you get to be like everyone else, only you get to go to Heaven, too! You have to go to church on Sunday, but there’s one on every corner and every flavor you like.

Buddhism: if you’re introspective and want to sit on your ass and learn the nature of everything just by chilling out, then you’re in!

Judaism: you get to eat a restricted diet, can’t go out Friday night or shopping on Saturday, and all your rituals seem quaint and mysterious, like a cult.

PRICE

Atheism: if you have nothing to believe it, you don’t have to pay anything. Freedom IS free!

Christianity: tithing 10% of your income, but there’s no one to hold you to it. Owning a holy book is important, too…but we have half.com and the Gideons for that.

Buddhism: money is evil in Buddhism and Buddha was poor so there’s nothing to buy

Judaism: tallit, kippah, menorah, mezuzah, kosher food for special occasions, High Holiday tickets, Temple membership, education for your kids, trips to Israel, money for Holocaust survivors…I could go on.

PROMOTION

Atheism: secular colleges, Hollywood actors, scientists, television, the internet…lots of great people are heathens.

Christianity: Barack Obama, Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life guy), practically the entire Western world.

Buddhism: the Dalai Lama, cool-looking Japanese kids and Richard Gere (ok, so Richard Gere is a curveball…but whatever)

Judaism: The Diary of Anne Frank, hostile grandmothers in Miami, bearded New Yorkers with funny accents that look like the Amish

POSITION

Atheism: 17% of Americans are Atheists. You also have lobby groups and butt buddies Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens firing up the Militant Atheists for global takeover

Christianity: if you love conflict, you can bro down against Evolution. Or if you’re a hippy-dippy Christian, you can just plant trees and listen to Christian Hardcore at church basement venues

Buddhism: everyone loves Chinese food and you really can’t argue against Buddhism since it’s so chill

Judaism: the root of all evil to Islamic Fascists, weirdo conspiracy people and a certain group of people who think that Mel Brooks is directly responsible for killing Jesus.

 

So what is the solution? Working from a cultural "shoestring budget", I’ve developed this Plan of Action:

First, we need to spend more time focusing on Judaism and less time on Jews. Less Seth Rogen, more David Wolpe. If we can get Jews in pop culture to express their spirituality more and tell fart jokes less, then we can gain more credibility as a faith, and not a culture. 

Second, we need to improve our conversion rate. In order to do this, we need to change what it takes to convert to Judaism. Telling people that it takes a year, intense study, and a religious court does not bring people into the fold. It just creates resentment. Instead, let’s look at the conversion of Ruth and the trials of Abraham as models for a new form of conversion, one that looks at the heart more than the brain. I would love a time when a person could simply go to a rabbi, say they have a Jewish heart, and could take home a Torah and commentary simply saying, "this is us…if you want this, take it" and the following week be in a mikvah.

Third, we need to create new institutions to relate to secular Jews. Pop culture websites like Jewcy do a great job in providing a Jewish cultural connection. But we also need this in a spiritual way. It will take leadership from creative people to make this happen. One example is the Jewish musical renaissance of Matisyahu, Y-Love and the music label JDub Records. G_dcast and other animation-based sites also give a pop cultural spin that is uniquely spiritual. I would love to see Twitter-based prayer minyans! 

Finally, we need to work together. Every community has a JCC, but many of them, just out of fear, do not cross promote non-traditional Jewish events, media and culture. We need to break this attitude that "we might offend someone". In my experience, the people who would be most offended by Jewish Gay Pride Day or a Jewish-owned tattoo shop are the same people who are thrilled that these things exist: because a world with more Jewish stuff is a better world, no matter what flavor of Jewish it is!