Posts

East Coast Vs. West Coast Galut Guilt

In The New York Observer last week, columnist Phil Weiss wrote on the subject of Jewish culture in L.A. versus New York. His observations were based on a Christmas party he attended while in L.A. in which he met three … Read More

By / December 30, 2006

In The New York Observer last week, columnist Phil Weiss wrote on the subject of Jewish culture in L.A. versus New York. His observations were based on a Christmas party he attended while in L.A. in which he met three Jews – two of which were male producers and the other a "beautiful" jewess, dating a gentile, and previously married to a non-Jew.

Both male producers praised Jimmy Carter's latest book, one of whom was the son of Holocaust survivors, and the female claimed to have felt "really Jewish," as in this was her "core," but felt that Israel, itself, was a a place that put a high value on " violence and ethnic chauvinism."

From his focus group of three, Weiss concludes that his experience in L.A, has allowed him to discern certain key cultural differences:

I'm in L.A. One of the liberating things about being here is that while there's Jewishness all around me, it is not as confining a Jewishness as the one in New York. The definition is looser.

On the East Coast I feel a lot more pressure to be Jewish-identified in a chauvinist way. People who live in New York tend to be more particularist-Jewish than California Jews. (It's no wonder that Michael Lerner, one Jew to endorse Jimmy Carter, is in S.F.) And affluent Jews on the east coast form the heart of the Israel lobby. They have been given that role, by history, by the Jewish people, by Israel—someone—to stand with Israel and insist that America do so too, because they believe that America if left to its own devices would abandon Israel.

Weiss' piece reminds me of a comment I made to my boyfriend over breakfast at the local joint this morning. Looking around, suddenly I was annoyed by all the similar faces I saw around me, gesturing with the hands, talking just a bit too loud, I uttered the ironic self-effacing words, "Too many Jews here. I have to go home now."

Tagged with: