I believe fashion trends are indicative of larger cultural trends, and I follow them carefully. For one thing, they can provide us with unusual programming insights. I am particularly interested when they seem to suggest something that has not emerged from our own research. For example, we know that Israel is low on the list of priorities/interests among the unaffiliated, particularly the intermarried. The whole approach to Israel education is undergoing scrutiny. So it’s interesting that Old Navy has issued a t-shirt with “Kiss and Tel-Aviv” emblazoned across the chest (a play on “Kiss and Tell”).
Obviously, Old Navy is motivated by economics and not by concern for the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community. Neither is Old Navy part of the cottage industry that is making radical Jewish clothing (and I applaud these efforts as a way of expressing Jewish identity in non-traditional ways, even if they use language that I might not). Could it be that like so many other aspects of Jewish identity that this form of “cultural” Zionism has overflowed into the general culture as well? Or is it that Tel Aviv has become an exotic destination and is simply another t-shirt city that is being cleverly marketed along with others—and there is nothing at all to learn from it? Maybe we have overlooked a potential “market” in our suggestions for Public Space Judaism. In any case, look and see if anyone in your neighborhood is wearing these t-shirts, and let me know.