Jews in the News

Hey, now it’s hip to be Jewish in London, especially if you’re in the sinister sounding Jewish mafia.
Publish date:
November 9, 2012
Being Jewish, Jewish in London, Sunday Times Style

This weekend, the Sunday Times Style ran an article titled ‘We’re All Kosher Now’ (paywall). I’ve read it a few times, and from what I gather, the writer has decided that it’s now cool to be a Jew in the UK. So, screw you every other culture going, right now it’s all about the Jews. Apparently.

They’ve come to this conclusion based on the following points, and using the standard ‘three’s a trend’ rule that all magazines subscribe to.

Firstly, Julie Burchill likes the Jews. She likes us lot so much, she’s writing a book on it (but needs more funding, so dig deep people - especially you rich Jews). She’s also learning Hebrew. That’ll come in handy for her trip to the Promised Land, otherwise known as Israel (is she even going?). But, she doesn’t want to actually be Jewish, she just likes the culture. Oh. Ok.

Secondly, the Jews are taking over the tele box. I mean we’ve got the awfully unfunny Friday Night Dinner on Channel 4 and Simon Amstell’s BBC Two show Grandma’s House which I’m not sure that anyone who’s not Jewish will actually get. They made me (a Jew) cringe painfully. I didn’t enjoy them at all.

True story: I went to the same school as Amstell. I also bumped into him in Thailand once. I said ‘Hi. We went to the same school’ to which he responded ‘Hello Jew’ with those sneery eyes of his. That was it.

Channel 4 just did a documentary called Jewish Mum of the Year – well they’ve done the Gypsies to death, so let’s focus on that other great cliché, Jewish Mothers! A quick straw poll of all my Jewish friends who watched this show said it made their skin crawl, it was that embarrassing, but yeah they watched it anyway because they couldn’t tear their eyes away.

And then there’s a Jewish character in Girls (best TV show in forever) played by a Jewish actress. Wow – that’s so cutting edge! Fancy getting a real life Jewish girl to play a Jewish character! In a show no less that’s based in New York, where, shock horror; there's a massive Jewish community.

Thirdly, 'We’re all kosher now’ refers to the ‘Jewish Mafia’ finally making their presence felt in London, just like in New York, because one solitary American Jewish PR who lives in London says so. Upset the ‘Jewish Mafia’ in the UK (or the gay mafia for that matter) and your career is over.

Now that public relations person is, well, good at PR, it would appear. But here I think they’ve actually hit on a tiny silver of a truth, though one that’s only apparent to myself and my fellow Jews.

I’m out and out Jewish. I don’t care who knows, after all, it’s simply a fact of life - just as some of you are black, or Christians, or Australians. Whenever I’ve started a new job, I’ve instantly known who the other Jews in my office are. It’s like gaydar, but Jewdar. You just know.

I recently met a PR girl who was trying to sell me some deodorants and grooming products to cover in the magazine I work at. Her name sounded Jewish, she looked quite Jewish (and no, I don’t mean she had a big nose) and so I asked – and yes, she was.

We then went on to have a mini bonding session and a long chat about which school she went to, whether she’d done the right thing leaving Uni to take on this job, etc. I don’t think I’d have spent that much time talking to a PR about non-work stuff if we hadn’t had that in common.

So I guess the thing about being Jewish is, we might give each other more time of day than the next person because we know and understand each others culture. It’s almost like a (non sinister) secret society. But that’s about the long and short of it.

We’re a million miles behind how ‘out’ the Jewish culture is Stateside, I mean ask a New Yorker about Chanukah (our Jewish festival which falls just before Christmas) and I reckon they’ll know what it is. Ask someone here in London, I’m really not sure that they will.

So is it really hip to be Jewish in London right now? If it is, I hadn’t noticed - or maybe this is our time in the spotlight, until the next fad blows in.

And as for making and breaking people’s careers with my fellow Mafiosos? I’m really not that powerful.