Hey, Hipster Jew — you probably think this book is about you
You’re sporting a Batman yarmulke on your head and a cubic-zirconia-studded Star of David pendant around your neck that would put Flavor Flav to shame. A plastic Moses figure stands posed next to your computer, ready for some sea-splitting action.
If you count yourself among the Heebsters and Sheebsters, you’re proud to be a Jew and have no reservations when it comes to flaunting your J-bling. If this is all new to you, welcome to the world of hipster Jews.
That’s the thinking behind Lisa Alcalay Klug’s new book, “Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $12.99), which seeks to catalogue hip Jewish trends, from He’BrewBeer to Heeb magazine, while looking at Judaism and its culture through a post-denominational lens.
Also referred to as “The Heebster Handbook,” Klug describes “Cool Jew” as “a field manual for 21st-century Jews.” With chapters ranging from “Heebster, Know Thyself” to “Heebster Spoken Here,” the book captures the social and cultural zeitgeist that defines modern cool Jews. “Cool Jew” picks up where the do-it-yourself “Jewish Catalog” series left off, aiming its content at the iJew who feels no shame in giving the gift of a virtual matzah ball to a Facebook friend.
After writing articles on Jewish culture for several Jewish newspapers, Klug decided it was time to compile all aspects that make Jews “cool.” She spent two years writing the book, which drew on 15 years of Jewish trend spotting.
Klug’s own Sheebster practices extend to teaching Kabba Lah Lah yoga at the Jewlicious Festivals and judging at the Simply Manischewitz Cook-Off. Based in the Bay Area, she also spends time in Jerusalem, Los Angeles and New York.
Unlike 1982’s “The Official J.A.P. Handbook,” which relies heavily on anti-Semitic clichés as the basis for its humor, Klug says “Cool Jew” follows her father’s ideology of being proud of Judaism.
Born to immigrants from Poland and Panama, Klug is also a descendant of Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, a 19th century Zionist from Sarajevo.
It’s “all about celebrating who you are … in a joyful way,” she said.
Between numerous “Hebrew Hammer” illustrations and “ShaBot 6000” cartoons, the “Cool Jew” takes a half-joking approach to Jewish lifecycle events, cultural mores, history, food and religious practices.