Jewish Young Adults tend to be fairly compliant and obedient; not the type you associate with crime or gangs. But every so often JYAs feel a need to rebel against society and flip an expertly manicured finger at The Man. And when it comes to shunning off the shackles of upper middle class society, nothing is better at proving your bad-assery than smoking Hookah.
The Hookah, a traditional smoking apparatus of Persian origin, is used to smoke flavored tobacco, called Shisha. JYAs are drawn to Hookahs because the foreign arabesque nature of the water pipe makes them seem worldly, hip, or otherwise special. Even though Hookahs are widely available as a mundane consumer good all across the Arab world, their rarity in the US is attractive to JYAs, who continuously look for ways to distinguish themselves from Non-JYAs.
JYAs are typically exposed to Hookahs through Israel trips like Birthright, where they purchase the elaborate water pipes at any number of tourist traps throughout the country. Those JYAs who do not have direct contact through Israel trips first experience Hookahs through their friends who have been on Israel trips and like to show off their semi-contraband wares at summer camp staff lounges, AEPi gatherings, or even at Hillel retreats.
Ironically, most JYAs do not realize that Hookah usage peaked in popularity around the 1960s and 70’s, which means that their parents were probably users as well.