By thelaegotist / /
A streetwear line resonates with young, lapsed Jews with sentiments like, “Unorthodox AF,” “I’ll fast when I’m dead,” “Kvetch City, Bitch,” and “I Killed Kosher.”
An odd truth of Jewish culture is that, no matter how devout they are, every Jewish person thinks they’re a “bad Jew” by not being observant enough. But even those who haven’t been to synagogue in years have a deep—if not complicated—connection to their culture and heritage. This rebranding campaign was created for Jews by Jews in a shout out to all the MOTs, no matter how good or bad they might be. And amid the current wave of antisemitism, it’s more important than ever for Jews to gain strength from their Jewish identity.
The recently launched work is a campaign that honors those who are part of the tribe and who are participating in their own way—including not participating at all. The work from advertising agency Common Good includes a website, www.BadJewMafia.com, offering branded apparel, accessories and skateboards. In addition to the website, Common Good created out-of-home street posters running in New York, a low-fi unboxing experience for influencers, and one :30 video living online at www.BadJewMafia.com.
Given free rein to design an experiment to encourage young, lapsed Jews to rethink what it means to live a Jewish life, Common Good chose to help these “untethered” Jews celebrate their rebellion against the expectations and traditions of their community. The campaign imagined the community of untethered Jews as a decentralized, punk-rock “bad Jew mafia.”
Channeling the American punk-rock vibe, streetwear and posters proclaim sentiments such as “Unorthodox AF,” “I’ll Fast When I’m Dead,” “Kvetch City, Bitch,” and “I Killed Kosher.” Not to mention all manner of Jewish iconography like the Star of David, a dreidel and a menorah.
“Many young Jews feel disconnected from Judaism, and as a result, we are choosing not to engage,” says Jake Barnes, director of business strategy at Common Good. “The ‘untethered,’ who make up more than 70 percent of American Jews, share deeply ingrained values that subconsciously influence how they show up in the world. What may seem like a quirky or specific trait could actually be an invisible thread connecting the untethered to the millions of others like them.”
A key challenge was to engage untethered Jews in a way that would resonate with how they experience their Jewish identity, not in an appeal to lure them back to synagogue (so to speak), but in a way that genuinely supports them.
Copy for the website includes: “All our lives, we’ve tried to be ‘good Jews.’ We stuck to the playbook and did all the things. But we’re done with the guilt, and we’re over expectations. We love our heritage. Our DNA’s dope. But the rules & the limits & the burdens & the guilt (did we mention the guilt?) can pound sand. We’re not a movement. Just a faction—a couple million & counting. We’re gonna Jew our own bad way and call it good. Others in the tribe can be let down. So let them.”
All profits from the sale of merchandise go to United 24—a global initiative to support Ukraine.