Let Me Explainby Natalie Jacobs June 29, 2017
At a conference recently, I heard a panel moderator say, “You don’t manage millennials, you inspire them.” He was being both pejorative and supportive, sarcastic and enthusiastic, curmudeongly and complimentary. And that’s the same mish-mash of emotions that everyone – even the millennials themselves – have when they turn to their crystal balls and try to predict what this population may do to the world they’re inheriting. Taking a look at just the Jewish slice of life, there’s a lot of disruption that can, and likely will, happen.
“The Jewish Millennial Project,” attempts to establish a starting point for the conversation around religion broadly, Judaism specifically and Israel philosophically, among other things on the minds of young people who live in San Diego and identify as Jewish. It’s not a survey. It’s a fluid conversation that will likely leave more questions than answers, but that is the point. Let’s admit that no one knows what the future will bring and let’s commit to trying to understand each other on the human level before we worry about assumptions based on overly generalized data points.
The last time we mentioned Jewish millennials by name in this magazine was Pat Launer’s January theater feature “The Jewish Millennial Dilemma on Stage at Cygnet.” As part of their lead-up to the production of “Bad Jews,” the theater hosted a lunch-time meeting of people involved with the local Jewish community to talk about the play because of its controversial name and very powerful perspective on the history and future of the Jewish people. Two of the Jewish actors performed a scene for us and engaged in frank discussion of their own identities as “culturally Jewish” and their behind-the-scenes struggles to portray their characters distinctly, honestly, and in keeping with the social climate of today. As media sponsors of the production, the San Diego Jewish Journal took a night out to watch “Bad Jews” and I really haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s there that the idea for the “Jewish Millennial Project” began to hatch, seeded with questions like what is religion? What is Judaism? How do we come to connect with it? When do we decide how it’s relevant to our own lives? At what cost?
Obviously, we don’t have enough pages for all of San Diego’s Jewish millennials, but the nine people you’ll meet in this issue are as good a place as any to get started. We’re open to adding more voices to this mix in future issues because, like I said, this is a continuous conversation that should be happening in multiple directions at the same time. If you know someone we should talk to, please let us know.
On the lighter side, July is also our food and wine issue. A bright kosher wine from kosher wine distributor Andrew Breskin’s must-try list makes a splendid pair with the stories you’ll encounter in these pages. Rabbi Jacob Rupp explores why Jews are like wine in a stunning extended metaphor grounded in religious text. Tori Avey is serving up her usual simply delicious recipe – this time for “spiced up turkey burgers” – and she’s joined for this issue by another recipe perfect for the warm weather and outdoor dining. Marnie Macauley, our advice vessel of hilarious and hard-won wisdom, is unpacking the Jewish relationship to food and all the savory problems that can create.