The Jewish ugliness

Jess sent me a link to an article from Vogue the other day about a new design brand that is trying to make “chic” Judaica items — those objects used during Jewish ritual, like wine cups or candle holders. The point of the article is that Judaica is outdated, ugly, embarrassing, and needs to be updated. “No offense to my people, but we’re not exactly known for our understated design sense,” the article begins. To remedy this, a young Jewish American designer, is making new, minimalist Judaica items, like an aluminum menorah in muted pastel colors, or a mezuzah (a little receptacle carrying a prayer Jews hang on the post of their doors) that looks “a high design vape pen”. The designer is not religious. Her observance of Shabbat is a “phone-free dinner with her husband followed by drinking wine and reading rather than watching television.” The ritual is a type of self-care activity that fits inside a larger secular, self-made identity. And she wants ritual items that do not clash with this identity. Judaica must be “functional and cool”, objects “whose function extend beyond religious rites.” In other words, things that look nice enough that you might even have them in the house

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