It is no secret that Israelis are voracious world travelers, although this fact catches Non-Jews off-guard. “I took this trip to South America,” Non-Jew “Madeline” recalls, “And there were Israelis everywhere, I was like, ‘Hello, random!’”
In fact, Madeline’s experience was not at all random. The trip-around-the-world is a rite of passage for many young Israelis who have recently finished their stint in the army before they go on to university or jobs in high tech. One of the most popular destinations for the young Israeli is India. There are several reasons India is such a popular destination: first, its relative proximity to the Jewish nation; second, India is cheaper than many popular destinations; third, there is the opportunity for religious tourism without having to deal with Jesus, and fourth—tradition. So many Israelis have already gone to India that there is booming business in marketing to them, with Hebrew speaking guides and menus translated into Hebrew. There is also the promise that the traveling Israeli will never be far from other Israelis with whom they can converse and have no strings attached travel sex.
The American Jewish Young Adult’s experience of India is much more conceptual. India is seen less as a destination, and more as an exporter of desirable commodities, like food, attractive sexual partners, yoga, and meditation. At some point nearly every JYA becomes involved with yoga, many to an unacceptable degree that extends to proselytizing its benefits to largely uninterested friends and family members. As JYA “Dan” recently griped: “I mean, good for Rachel that yoga makes her happy, but I kind of doubt that its going to make her mom stop pressuring her to get married. But don’t tell I said her that.” As an extra bonus to the observant JuBu, or the armchair activist, India is now home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.
Despite the fact that many American college students will at some point express a desire to backpack through India or go to a month-long yoga retreat, the educated elite knows shockingly little about Indian history, culture, or religious diversity. At any rate, few actually make the journey, preferring the more consistently plumbed Europe and the anglicized Indian food of Brick Lane.