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Archive for January, 2011

(idea submitted and written by E.)

There comes a time in every Jewish Young Adult’s life in which science ultimately triumphs over religion. Usually this occurs about two years after a JYA makes a commitment to Judaism at a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  Around this time JYAs start to experience the outside world, and spread their wings beyond the coddling of their Jewish Elders.  They finally start thinking about what the Torah actually says and implies, only to find that some of the content seems dubious.

JYAs approach this denial in various forms. Some decide they will keep their denial to themselves. Other, bolder JYAs, will openly discuss their feelings of confusion from years of brainwashing.   Still others take a more subtle approach.  For example, look at the case of JYA “Ari”, from Atlanta.  He grew up in an conservadox home, and his way of rebelling against the dark forces of his religious parents was to temporarily declare atheism.  Rather than openly tell his parents, he waited for his mother to edit his college essay on Nietzsche, in which he discussed his newfound religious beliefs and his mother discovered an integral part of her son’s angst-ridden college identity.

No matter how deep one’s denial goes, most JYAs will ultimately come to the conclusion that although they do not believe in all of the Torah’s stories (because they are scientifically impossible), they still consider themselves a “cultural Jew” because they are characterized by other things aforementioned in this blog.  Ultimately, when the JYA reaches adulthood and becomes less rebellious, they will subject their children to the same boring Sunday Schools, Jewish private schools, or youth groups, that they were forced to attend as a child.  And thus the circle of rebelling against doctrine will begin again.

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(idea submitted by L. and dedicated to Hannah W.)

Jewish Quarter of Essaouira? Been there, done that.

It is an established fact that many Jewish Young Adults travel to Israel on Birthright or some other form of organized tour.  But in recent years more and more adventurous JYAs are broadening their horizons, from Morocco to Pakistan, whether it is for vacation, study abroad, or any other excuse.  There are numerous throwaway reasons why this trend has emerged: curiosity, general interest, intellectual pursuits, and whatnot, but the real underlying reason for the presence of JYAs in places like Jordan and Tunisia is much more visceral.

One possible explanation is a general desire to stick it to their families/parents/Rabbis out of general rebellion.  Nothing can put a twist to Seder with your grandparents like starting a sentence with “This reminds me of the time I went clubbing in Beirut…”

The other possible explanation is that JYA travel throughout the Middle East as a way to compensate for their lack of manliness.  Since, on average, JYAs lack the height, weight, muscle mass, to be classified as “hunky”, JYAs fabricate a more “badass” image from their escapades abroad.  For example:

You mean you haven't been to Alexandria?

Non-JYA Muscular Jock:  “Dude, remember that chick you were totally into?  I hooked up with her last night.  Sorry Bro.”

Less Muscular JYA:  “Don’t stress it, I was up all night anyhow chatting with this girl I met when I was at a hookah bar in Cairo.”

Non-JYA:  “You’ve been to Cairo?!”

JYA:  “Please, you haven’t?”

Lastly, JYAs simply enjoy the “wow” factor they receive from telling Non-Jews that they have visited places that most American’s don’t recognize and can’t find on a map, like Petra, Cappadocia, or Fez.

Whatever the underlying reason, at least JYAs see a little bit of the world, and should consider themselves exceptionally lucky that they have the opportunity to do so.

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