Monday, August 27, 2007
The National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) took Simmy Kay of VH1 to the streets of NYC for some JewWalking! We've all seen clips of Jay Walking where Jay Leno takes to the streets of LA asking what people of normal intelligence would consider simple questions and people trip all over themselves trying to answer. One of my fave late night game shows was on when I was in college. I think we watched it every night at 12:30 am. It was called Street Smarts and it had a similar premise. Two contestants would have to wager whether or not the eccentric people on the street would get a correct answer to a specific question. It was awesome.
The folks Simmy encounters in this video aren't stupid or ignorant. They just haven't taken advantage of the opportunity to learn more about their Jewish Heritage. There was a counselor at Camp Gan Israel in Huntington Beach, California when I was like 15 years old who gave me one of the most important pieces of encouragement and inspiration that I could ever ask for. I remember this clearly. We were sitting in a dingy bowling alley in Los Alamitos and I was lamenting to her my frustration with my Jewish learning. All the other kids were earning incredible prizes in Tzivos Hashem (the brilliant Gan Israel learning program that give kids prizes for learning about Yiddishkeit). It was easy for the kids that grew up going to Jewish Day School. It came easy for them. They seemingly knew everything. And she told me something to the extent that just because I never learned something didn't make me stupid. I could always learn those things if I wanted to. That struck a chord in me. I remember she wrote me a note of encouragement at the end of the summmer and she repeated that phrase to me. I carried that letter in my wallet for several years. I believe wholeheartedly in this concept. What you don't know now can hurt you. We should all strive to do more. Be more.
I think a video like this can inspire people. Too many people are intimidated to sign up for a Hebrew class or a "Basic" Judaism class. Gosh, shouldn't they already know those basic fundamentals of their religion? But when they see that others are like them, they may be encouraged to take initiative. Instead of dropping your kids off at Sunday school and heading over to the gym, go into the synagogue yourself and take an adult ed class. Show your kids that you are as interested in your yiddishkeit as you tell them they should be. Otherwise, forward this video to your friends and family who you think will get a kick out of it. I sure did. My favorite line involves a bagel on a kid's head. You'll see. Its great. Check it out.
For those of you reading my blog on Facebook (the video embedding above doesn't work so) you can view the video on the NJOP website: http://www.njop.org/html/jewwalking.html