Look, I’m no intellectual giant. I have to check every “virus alert” on Snopes.com. I follow shiny things into sewers. I bob my head to the terrible pop music I’m subjected to while driving Hebrew school carpool.
And as you know, I think most Jewish holiday parodies are hilarious.
Chanukah’s coming ’round the calendar again, and we never stopped singing the Maccabeats’ “Candlelight” from last year. I’ve always thought of it as a fun ditty by some nice Yeshiva boys that I could share with the kids (unlike last week’s funny-but-pervy “I’m Jewish and I Know It.”)
Then I read Amy Klein’s article in this week’s Forward blasting the whole notion of Jewish parodies and those durned singing rabbinical students:
My antipathy toward The Maccabeats — those sheyne yinglekh, as my grandmother would have said, using the Yiddish term for “sweet boys” — isn’t personal. The college students were responsible for a fine production: The tunes they chose to rewrite are catchy, the lyrics are proficient and their voices are melodic. But they’ve spawned an entire line of religious YouTube videos I find an embarrassment — no, a shonda! — for the Jewish people.
Oh no, she di’int! Amy, mameleh, what, you don’t like singing about dreidels and latkes?
By the end of the article, however, I thought she had a very interesting perspective. As a former religious Jew, Klein takes offense at the ultra-Orthodox life being lauded in the mainstream media when these are “the very same people who don’t want to see public advertisements featuring immodest women, won’t tolerate pictures of Hillary Clinton in their newspapers and won’t even ride the bus sitting next to a woman.”
To her, Jewish parodies elicit a reactive anger to what appears to be a real hypocrisy about the value of women in religious life.
From the “Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem” to The Maccabeats’ upcoming offering — whatever it will be — it’s all fun and games until you become frum. Then let’s see how “cute” their conservative values really are.
Me, I don’t have so much invested. Though I respect the observant people I know, I am more likely to serve miso soup at a Buddhist monastery in this lifetime than I am to become so religious that I won’t want El Yenta Man sitting next to me making kissy sounds in my ear at Shabbat services.
I can see how Ms. Klein might feel irked by the glossy picture these religious “parodies” present; I also think the frum are as entitled as anyone else to switch up the lyrics to annoying pop songs and make silly videos.
However, I think we can all agree on one thing: That THIS is the worst, most hideous and offensive Jewish holiday parody in this world AND the world to come: