Jewish culture remixed and rebranded

Jewish culture is being re-branded and marketed to secular Jews, intermarried couples, and non-Jews, reports Bloomberg Businessweek (March 28). While there has “long been a mainstream taste for Jewish humor and food…the [recent] fervor is something new,” writes Jennifer Miller. Pioneering such marketing of a wide range of Jewish experiences and culture is the lifestyle company Arq, which “serves as a portal for interfaith couples, their friends, and their families to find ‘relevant, inclusive aesthetically elevated’ information and products,” including holiday-planning guides that may include a traditional Shabbat dinner alongside “interviews with Jewish entrepreneurs, as well as chefs who cook up artisanal halvah and horseradish.” There are now secular dinner and dating platforms drawing on Jewish clichés (the opinionated mother) and companies that offer trips to secular professionals to Israel. Most of these companies are less than three years old.

Miller notes that while as a rule Jews don’t proselytize to non-Jews, some in the cultural-marketing world “have decided that enlarging the tent is the best way to keep young Jews inside it.” The social dining app OneTable, which brings people from all religious backgrounds to celebrate inclusive Shabbat meals, finds that 10 to 15 percent of OneTable guests are not Jewish. “But through technology, we’re seeding hundreds of new communities,” says executive director Aliza Kline. Some of these marketers are taking a page from the branding of Buddhist and other eastern religious practices, comparing a non-Jew finding inspiration in the Sabbath to the millions of non-Buddhists who practice yoga or go on meditation retreats to India. “It’s the latest way that ancient traditions are meeting modern life,” says a “Jew-ish” travel company founder.