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Archive for January, 2009

#69 Eyeware

Jewish Young Adults across the planet have wide tastes in clothing and style, and there are very few unifying themes across their dress code. But beyond simple pants and shirts, there are some definitive items, specifically in the accessories department. Besides Tiffany’s jewelry, JYAs of today have renewed their interest in eyeware and have boldly taken to the streets in the latest fashion for glasses.

Oscars Arrivals

JYA Funnymen Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill rock glasses

It is a well known fact that glasses have typically been associated with dorkdom, nerdiness, and it is a well known fact that Jews have also typically been associated with the same qualities. In response to this blatant stereotyping, JYAs of today have decided to flip the equation and embrace their geeky labels as a way of overcoming the bias. By wearing their fashionable glasses with deliberate pride JYAs have shown the world, yes, we are dorky, but we are also cool enough to admit it.

From LA to London to Tel Aviv, JYAs of today are single-handedly responsible for the high-end eyeware industry. LA native “Jessica” even went so far as to buy frames with uncorrected lenses to wear for her internship interviews. “I know that hot people get more job offers”, she explained, “but I want them to give me a job cause I’m smart too, you know?”

Whether the reason is aesthetic or corrective, glasses are the accoutrement du jour for JYA’s as today. As they say, clothes make the man, but glasses make the Jew.

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JYA hottie Joseph Gordon Levitt sports frames

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#68 Talking About Sex

(idea submitted by practically everybody)

Among many communities, the topic of sex and sexuality is taboo, subject to hushed tones and upturned noses. But, in the world of Jewish Young Adults, sex is so frequently the default topic of conversation that any outside observer would assume that JYAs are nothing more than a bunch of self-deprecating nymphomaniacs.

The origin of this obsession is probably found in the JYAs youth. Today nearly all JYAs have been subject to some form of Jewish Youth Group or Jewish Summer Camp. It is in these highly cramped quarters that Jewish adolescents find themselves first experimenting with basic forms of sexual expression including kissing (making out) or petting (feeling up/down). This newly discovered and popular shared hobby results in endless conversation with peers about the gray area between First Base and Second Base. JYA “Lisa” recalls, “I remember this girl at camp said a hand up the shirt was third base. Maybe it is in Bloomfield Hills cause they’re all a bunch of prude losers, but in San Diego that’s only second.”

Another possible explanation is the impact of religion. Unlike WASPs, who have embraced their faith’s shame about the body in general and the sex act in particular, and who politely behave as if they are built like Ken dolls, Jews deem sex a Mitzvah, and physical attraction between potential mates is a recognized necessity. Also, unlike Catholics whose sex talk is always accompanied by a sense of shame more befitting the confessional, JYAs talk about sex publicly, loudly, and without apology. An anonymous JYA was heard on the E subway line in Manhattan telling a friend about a conjugal encounter with someone by the name of “Nip-biter Mike.” Despite the uncomfortable looks exchanged between Jewish Elders in the vicinity, the story of Michael’s anatomical inadequacies and strange preferences continued all the way from the Upper West Side to the Village.

One last explanation is cultural. JYAs have a tendency to want to be in everybody’s business and know all the most intimate details about the lives of others. This blatant nosiness means JYAs delve into the most intimate details of their friends, and of their random acquaintances, and the most intimate details are usually about sex. Because of this, JYAs will often know the age a friend first experienced orgasm long before knowing how many siblings they have.

It is important to note that the fact that JYAs talk about sex all the time does not necessarily mean that they are actually having sex all the time. Particularly among male JYAs, the relationship is often inverted, where the more sex talk actually means less participation in the act itself.

salt-n-pepa-lets-talk-about-s-409886

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#67 Nitpicking

There is a widespread perception that Jewish people like to complain and vent their frustrations out loud, frequently to random strangers in line, and frequently on the topic of their children. Yiddish abusers refer to this as the Jewish tendency to “kvetch.” While this may be true for Jewish Adults, and especially for Jewish Elders, Jewish Young Adults of today have adopted a more refined and subtle form of criticism. Specifically, JYAs use the delicate art of nitpicking to voice their disapproval without appearing overtly hostile and while maintaining plausible deniability.

Nitpicking can take the form of noting minor flaws as a way for a JYA to avoid a more serious confrontation. Former sorority sisters, “Talia” and “Jen” have harbored a secret mutual resentment toward each other ever since they forced ZBT member “Ari” to choose between them junior year. Five years later, upon a shopping excursion at Nordstrom, “Tally” informed “Jen” that her Nicole Miller strapless looked a little “snug” in the midriff region and suggested something with “rouging.” “Jen” responded, “Um, I think you mean “ruching.” Ari, incidentally, chose to play beer pong until he passed out and avoided them both in favor of “Rebecca”.

nitpicker“Whatever,” recalls Talia,  “It’s not like she’s Tim Gunn. And at least I didn’t tell her she should try on a dress that hadn’t eaten a burrito for lunch every day this week. Which is totally what I should have said.”

Academic JYAs frequently Nitpick complete strangers. “Dave,” a nominal graduate student of literature cum unemployed wannabe policy buff, has a tendency to troll militant blogs and make comments like “Actually, UN Resolution 3397 was REVOKED by Resolution 46/86 in December of 91, get your facts right you ignorant moron.”

JYA “Keren” remembers with embarrassment the afternoon she was drawn into a flame war with someone on a message board who called her out for using the word “stupider,” which they claimed was not a real word. “I mean, eventually I had to laugh it off, because “stupider” is in the dictionary, so who’s stupider now?”

Finally, JYAs will Nitpick in anger and frustration, in lieu of an argument. JYA “Rachel”, who had been fighting with her mother all morning, let her mother drive around in circles for an hour looking for the Hadassah offices in Manhattan, which she swore were on 56th, and only after her mother reached complete exasperation did Rachel inform her timidly “Um, I’m pretty sure it’s on 58th.”

Whatever the reason and whatever the scenario, JYAs have a strong penchant to point out minor flaws and mistakes that they deem inappropriate even when they are so insignificant that any normal person would let it go . Non Jews should feel honored if they are on the receiving end of a nitpicking JYA, it means that the JYA likes you enough to harp on your most minor flaws and considers you resilient enough not need special treatment.

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(idea submitted by Samantha D.)

Of all the bands and musical acts that have Jewish Young Adult support, all of them have some connection to the faith in one way or another, be it through youth movements, being raised orthodox, or having an Israeli parent. One band that has bucked this trend is the Dave Matthews’ Band.

Dave Matthews himself is not even remotely Jewish, being raised a Quaker, and neither are any of the members of his band. None of them went to Sunday School, and none of them spent any formative time at Ramaz or USY summer camps. Yet the Dave Matthews Band (DMB for short) has been part of the JYA repertoire for years, even since the early years when they were part of the Jam Band circles.

What is interesting about JYA’s and their affinity for DMB is that it is very limited in scope. Every JYA will recognize practically every song from the first two albums, and some may even recognize a few tracks from the third, but anything beyond 1998 is a complete blur, even though the band released three complete studio albums since then and has been touring extensively.

Therefore, the Dave Matthews’ Band remains one of unsolved mysteries of JYA fascination. Many theories have been proposed on the matter. One possible explanation is that JYAs formed an affinity for DMB in the early years when they toured with another JYA favorite, Phish. Another explanation is that JYAs like to tout their approval of DMB as a way to seem more indie-cool. One last explanation is that possibly JYAs have an affinity for DMB because they want to connect with Non-Jews.

Whatever the explanation, the music of Dave Matthews and his band, from 1994 to 1998, will forever be hummed unknowingly in the showers of JYAs from coast to coast.

davematthewsband

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