Alright so it was Long Beach, but it’s all L.A. to me…I was invited to present my book, Business Mensch, at the Jewlicious 6.0 Festival in Long Beach. Probably very few Jews over 30 have heard of this event, but for the upwards of 1000 college and post-college Jewish kids of all denominations and orientations who attended this festival, this was hip, happenin’ and over the top Jewish. The Festival included a raucous Friday night Carlebach minyan with the skimpiest mehitzah (divider between men and women) I have ever seen at a traditional service, but with a more than traditional quantity of joy and exhilaration…not to mention dancing! There was also a musical “camp style” reform service replete with instruments. After the services 500+ attended a fabulous catered kosher dinner, which was not only tasty, but served with style and professionalism (not to mention nice wine), and mostly prepared and served by volunteers, in conjunction with professional staff. The enthusiasm was electric. After dinner there were myriads of classes, dramatic presentations, gatherings, etc., including a conversation with Yuri Foreman, the welterweight champion of the world, who will be defending his title in June at Yankee Stadium and happens to be studying to be a Rabbi!
Shabbat day there was more of the same, and after Shabbat there was a comedy club skit, a late night Mexican food extravaganza that was tremendous, and as a capper there was a major concert with Kosha Dillz, Diwon, Electro Morocco, Rinat Gutman, Moshav and a surprise appearance by Matisyahu, who was attending the festival with his family.
The continuous and rebounding theme of the event was Judaism is cool, let’s all learn more about it, celebrate it, and have fun with it, we are allowed to “own it” and as such can enter and engage it where we are and go with it where WE want to go.
Local leaders included Festival Founder, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, and leaders from the Happy Minyan, J-Connect, local Hillel directors, L.A. Jewish Journal staff, and many many more. Local So Cal “regulars” greeted visitors from virtually every state and region of the country.
A long time ago there was a book written called Jews: the Ever Dying People, which chronicled the near total demise of our people, and the road back after each one of these “near misses.” In today’s world many of us in the organized Jewish community are worried sick about intermarriage, assimilation, and the resultant loss of our tribal identity. If Jewlicious could be bottled and force fed to every young Jew in America, we would make a rebound higher than Kobe Bryant could jump.
It’s a known fact that many major trends in the U.S. in the last 50 years have been gestated on the West Coast, and Jewishly, L.A. leads the way. Kol Ha Kavod to Jewlicious and the Greater L.A. community that brought this experience directly and indirectly to many thousands of young Jews all across the U.S. and to many, many more in the future, as news of this event spreads and gives birth to similar initiatives targeting young Jews, and hitting them “where they live.”