Those Crafty, Crafty Jews.

It sucked to be a Jew in America last week. First, the Pew Research Center came out with a survey of Jewish life and it turns out Jews are assimilating at higher and higher numbers. Apparently, each year fewer people identify as Jewish. If that weren’t enough reason to panic, in the same week, some genius clerk in a store called Hobby Lobby told some Jewish Patrons, in NEW JERSEY, that if they wanted paper dreidels, menorah making kits, and other Jewish-themed craft items, they’d have to look somewhere else, because Hobby Lobby doesn’t cater to the chosen people.

Here’s what I think: If you want to worry about assimilating Jews, don’t get your knickers in a twist about intermarriage, or Hannukah bushes. Instead, I’d ask what the hell Jews are doing in a store called Hobby Lobby in the first place.

Jews are not a crafting people. How the hell do you have time to decoupage a seder plate, knit a cozy for the menorah, or even worse, time to scrapbook a bris, if you always have to be ready to get up and run should a gang of angry Cossacks come knocking at your door? (One of the reasons there wasn’t Jewish art for many years was for this reason. If you’re a nomadic people, wandering hither and yonder, you’re going to pack light. A marble bust of Moses or a wood carving of the sacrifice of Isaac wasn’t going to make in onto the back of your camel or pack mule. Not when you could pack potatoes instead.)

I am not just saying this just because I am an un-crafty person who is easily intimated by the use of any small motor skills. True, I can barely tie my own shoes, and true, anything that I have knit looks like a toddler did it, with her feet, but I am incredibly suspect of the whole crafting business.

I think of all the women who came before me. Would they be horrified to know that it’s now hip to make your own clothes, not to mention bake your own bread? Didn’t we leave all that behind in the shtetl along with that giant pail they schlepped around to milk the cows. (I have a hunch the same pail was used to do laundry and provide the odd bath. Mark my words, people, that pail will make a comeback. A pricey, pricey comeback.)

I am suspect of all this crafting. (I am also suspect of mothers who send their children to school with cute bento box lunches and intricate hair braids in this category. Dodgy.) It seems like such a remarkable waste of time and the accumulation of such a tremendous amount of useless detritus, all so we can pretend that we have an ounce of shiksa-goddess-Martha-Stewart blood in us. People, Martha Stewart is the other kind of Polish, the kind that didn’t have to marry her cross-eyed, hunch-backed, hairy first cousin just because he had a visa and could get her out of Warsaw in a hurry.

We’ve never had the luxury of the time it requires to get busy crafting. (I’m sorry, but I can’t make a boiled wool purse with you tonight. I have to commit the Torah to memory in case the Greeks come back and burn it.) If we have it now, so much so that we’re boycotting stores that are dumb enough not to cater to us (in New Jersey!!), I’d say we’ve gotten a little too comfortable over here. I’d say it’s high time to step away from the glue gun.

And I didn’t need the Pew people to tell me that.

28 Comments

Filed under children, crafts, Jews, parenting, Uncategorized

28 responses to “Those Crafty, Crafty Jews.

  1. I’m glad I could see this between chapters of Tehillim and Daf Yomi. Well said!

  2. Linda

    I want to like this because it’s very funny. But I own a glue gun. And October is my super-crafty month as I make Halloween costumes as an annual tradition. Am I not a proper Jew? Maybe it’s a mutation.

  3. tova

    Love. Though I am guilty of the occasional intricate hair braid.

  4. Karen Raz

    Your blog is genius! I love these posts.

  5. so so funny! Yes, when I go into a craft store, like Michael’s I can’t help but wander around and think, this stuff is a little goyisha! But think about it, the craft stores like Michaels in the early fall are missing out on the market of Sukkot, our craftiest holiday. I know me lots of Israelis that get all crafty and yes, they actually make sukkah balls to hang in their sukkah. I am guilty as charged, I have wads of scrapbooking paper in my basement and HARDLY use them. I hope you’ll come and stop by my blog, I write about Judaism and transplantedness, and looks like you are transplant too! I love Riverdale.

  6. Not a Jew…but a friend of many! Hilarious!

  7. wondering if you’re using your blog as a comfort for old times, during all this newness in your life:)

  8. sj

    Nice one. But can we talk about the buckwheat bake at some point? I think that would back up your point about being as un-Martha as they come. But really l just like saying it, buckwheat bake.

  9. I feel like I’m not allowed to really like this since I’m not Jewish (and I’m a detritus-gathering crafter), but DAMN if this isn’t the best thing I’ve read in a while. I went back and read the Martha Stewart part three times so far.

  10. Vicki

    Hobby Lobby is also just BAD. They’re the lead plaintiff in a case seeking exception from the Obamacare contraception coverage mandate: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/supreme-court-contraception_n_3957432.html

  11. Anonymous

    In six years of teaching kindergarten I never learned how to use the glue gun. Maybe if I would have the glitter would not have gotten all over the house.

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