Jewish Young Adults across the planet sample a variety of tastes and interests. In addition, preferences and hobbies change over time depending both on the JYAs age and social group and what movies or albums are popular at the time. Even considering these varied concerns, there is one group that has sustained the attention of JYAs all across the land, from the most materialistic JAP to the smelliest Granola Jew.
The band Phish has been around since 1983 officially, and has been a part of every JYAs summer camp experience since then. The band itself is 50% Jewish, and bassist Mike Gordon has frequently touted his Jewish Day School roots as inspiration for the band’s music. In addition, the band has also recorded a few songs in Hebrew, including Yerushalaim Shel Zahav. Over the years Phish has amassed throngs of Jewish fans, and there is even a conglomerate of traveling rabbis called Gefiltefish, who attend concerts and interact with young JYA pseudo-hippy fans in the misguided hope that the half-jewish surroundings will spark as much interest in judaism as it sparks joints.
There are many theories why so many Phish fans are Jewish, there have even been articles written about it (here and here), but there is an underlying reasoning as well. JYAs in general like feeling special, and they further like touting their pseudo-indie credibility whenever they have a chance. Therefore, it is only natural that JYAs will be attracted to an underground band that has been together for over twenty years but has never had a song on Billboard’s Top 40. Claiming to be Phish fans, even if they are not, gives JYAs a veritable one-up on their predictable Non-Jew counterparts. As JYA “Aaron” pointed out to recently at a bar “That guy Chris is so lame, he doesn’t even know who Phish is.”
Even the most straight edged JYAs, those who would never dare go to a Phish concert because of hygienic concerns, are closeted fans, or at least have some sentimental claim to the band. JYA “Jessica” explained her nostalgia for Phish when she entered a house party on the Upper West Side and noticed the song Bouncing Around the Room playing in the background. “Oh My God!” she squealed, “I totally gave my first blowjay to this song!”