Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Studied Indifference

I haven't written anything on the blog for a few weeks and it is high time I did. I take an evening off to sit on a deckchair over the sea and decide what to say. As always, I have a list of the subjects that have caught my attention and could possibly be used. I scan it to see if anything has developed more body since being cryptically jotted down in my little notebook.

An article in the Jewish Chronicle recently, suggests that within a few years the majority of Jews in Britain will be Ultra Orthodox. Proof, yet again, that the most important and vibrant part of the Jewish community in the UK is systematically ignored by the bodies who claim to represent Judaism and Jews. Even more so by the government agencies who ought to be registering our needs and concerns, if only to avoid clashes down the line with a group of highly intelligent and motivated malcontents railing against a society they believe hates them.

People in the community I talk to about this don't seem to grasp my argument, that more people from within should be opening channels of communication with the UK leadership. We need our voice to be heard, and needs considered, unhampered by the opposing (if no less legitimate) desires and concerns of the culturally-Jewish network who see us as embarrassing, antiquated relics of the shtetl they are trying to escape from.

I have been accused of unfairly 'having it in' for the Board of Deputies, and it is true that our own Union of Orthodox Hebrews is often no more interested in being represented by them, than they are in doing it. The Jewry that dominated the United Synagogue, and is led by the honourable Chief Rabbi, has as its goal, to become an accepted and integral part of British society. They do their utmost to emphasise that 'normalcy'. We, consider ourselves a sub-culture and...
No good. I have been through all this before.

The tide is in and the beach is deserted. Down on the waterfront two young Chassidim in their flowing yellow tztitzis and city shoes are strolling along the shore and skimming stones across the water. Seeing them reminds me I had the germ of something profound to say about the new generation of proud peyos wearers. Nu? I was thinking about it yesterday over the barbecue? Oh yes, I suddenly remember. That young man I saw yesterday.

He was in a deckchair on the promenade, happily oiling his hairy torso. Then, he put on his Ray-Bans (why are the shgatzim and laidigayers so brand obsessive?) and carefully recurled his long peyos before reaching down under his chair, taking out a Woman's Own magazine and settling down to read. I was, funnily enough, quite proud that what I had predicted was coming to pass. That the Peyos and coat are becoming a uniform, worn as self-identification rather than necessarily for religious conviction, much like the Muslim headscarf.

Incidentally, the goyim I speak to have never been able to understand what I mean when I say that our youth does not perceive our distinctive attire as a cultural or religious statement. We are taught it is a religious requirement. There is no doubt in most chassisim's minds that they (we all, actually) will eventually be punished for violating the dress code.

That the poor young man has not yet developed beyond reading his wife's vapid lifestyle magazines, is the fault of the parents who never prepared him for life beyond yeshiva... bla bla bla.

...I had a nice sentence that came to me during the davening on shabbes;
“Bright young minds, honed to perfection on complicated logic and convoluted reasoning are shlepping boxes in supermarkets, driving school buses, or skirting that shady area between dealing in properties and dealing on properties.”
...Nice, but I have said this all before.

I could talk about the new Rap song that the kids are gleefully telling each other is 'pinkt vi Fifty Cents' . It comes off an album called Rap In Yiddish which is basically cover versions of popular pop songs to yiddish words. It has been banned by the Rabbis in Israel and so is selling like hot cakes in the underground there. It puts me in mind me of the book reviewer who wrote “This book is both original and good, but what is good is not original and what is original is not good.

You need to admire the balls of any bloke brave enough to sing a yiddish cover of Maddonna's La Isla Bonita. Unfortunately, that is about all one can admire him for. From an album called Rap In Yiddish I was hoping for some anger and derision. A little bit of attitude at least. Instead this is a shoddy collection of boring pastiches and self-righteous lyrics, clumsily latched onto popular elecronic karoake tracks with some 'yiddish verds' to make it haimish.

I have an idea. Maybe i could combine the music and the peyos? Emphasise how my reaction to each is the opposite of what one might expect. Start with the peyos story;

Once such a blatant display would irritate me, today I view it as a sign of progress. The radical Chassidic ethos of worldly disconnect and 'All work and we'll pray', slowly and inexorably being replaced by a proud, pragmatic and sustainable Torah im Derech Eretz approach. The rap, which I would be expected to embrace as a symbol of revolution, I see instead as yet another example of chassidic mediocrity hailed as a heroic just for being banned.

Possible titles? Banned Band and the Way of the Land - Hairspray and RapEmpty Vassals

I could use some of the Chronicle piece to flesh out the peyos part and there is a link someone posted in the last post to an
article about OJ's in London and their work ethic...
I still need to find some interesting high note to end on...

On second thoughts, I'm lazy, and there is nothing here really worth saying, so lets just leave it it at that. I'm off for a cold beer.

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