An article in the New York Times on The Jewish Channel, reports that the cable station is gaining in distribution and subscribers. The article sites 20k subscribers mostly in the New York area. Curious, I went to The Jewish Channel website to view their programming line-up. I'm wondering if The Jewish Channel is for me -- and you -- the younger American Jew who is also interested in Jewish life outside the synagogue, Jewish people without beards, Jewish history beyond the Holocaust, Jews living without guilt and angst, and Israel outside of politics.
Below is my evaluation of the current programming according to my criteria. Let's call this a measure of New Jew Skew. How New Jew versus Old Jew is The Jewish Channel?
First, beyond the criticism, I totally want to watch this channel and would subscribe if I had pay TV and it was available in Atlanta. And, let me say also, that I like Old Jew too but do think it is important for any Jewish media to go beyond to connect with the younger generation.
Original Series: Three of the four current episodes deal with Old Jew
- Jewish vote in American election (+1 current American, -1 Israel politics)
- the Kosher industry controversy (-1 beard, -1 guilt & angst)
but also include:
- A segment on Jewish summer camps (+1 outside of synagogue, +1 joyful)
Feature Films: Oy!
- Two of five movies relate to the Holocaust (-2 Holocaust)
- One movie about a young boy whose mother dies and is, "sent off... to a kibbutz, where more loneliness and cruelty await him." (-1 guilt & angst)
- Shofar, a movie about Orthodox Jews raising an autistic son. (-1 guilt & angst)
- And Tollbooth about an "angsty and cynical" young woman trying to make it in NYC (+1 for current American, -1 guilt & angst)
Israel and American programming looks more promising.
Israel programming includes a documentary on an Ethiopian boy who immigrated to Israel, Say Amen about an orthodox Jew coming out as a gay man, and a nature piece about the Dead Sea (+3 Israel beyond politics).
American programming includes a documentary on “Jew-Bu” trend of Jewish-Buddhists (+1 beyond beard!), Christopher Yisrael Campbell comedian and Jewish convert in the documentary Circumcise Me (+2 an x-Catholic comedian), Awake Zion about the intersection of Rasta and Judaism (+1 dreadlocks) and two pieces about Jews outside of synagogue: Jews and the California Gold Rush and a biography of Louis Mayer (+2).
History and Remembrance (-5). Five pieces about the Holocaust.
World Jewry: 4 of 6 programs are on Jews and communism.
This section includes a piece on Jews in Havana, Eppy the Communist who fought along side Mao Zedong, and two pieces on fascinating Jewish women leading people in unique, albeit socialist, ways: Emma Goldman and Janet Rosenberg Jagan (+4 Jewish history beyond the Holocaust).
Overall, we get a New Jew Skew of zero: as much New Jew as Old Jew. Not bad!