_New York Times_ Discovers That Some Jews Have Tattoos

A younger, more sarcastic Jewdar might have taken the NY Times piece on Jews and tattoos as an opportunity to feel superior, seeing as how it took the paper of record a good decade or so to record the trend. Older and wiser as we are, we recognize that there’s a lot of stuff going on the world, and just because its old news to us, it may be new to someone else. A few weeks ago, we ourselves were blown away by the Times‘ story on Albanian women who live as men, but somewhere near Arthur Avenue there were doubtlessly a number Albanians muttering "That’s soooo 1789." Anyway, while we’ll forgive the Times its lack of timeliness, the story did earn our ire on a number of issues.

First of all, we’re not big fans of the whole tattoo trend. It used to be that tattoos meant something–you’re in the service, you’re a sideshow attraction, or you’re easy. Now, tattoos don’t mean you’ve served your country, worked as a carny, or put out–all it means is that you’ve jumped on the bandwagon. And we know, we know, tattoos are a way of expressing your individuality, but isn’t rather remarkable that so many people have chosen to express their individuality in the same way at the same time? Now, fads are fine, we’ve followed a few ourselves, but the beauty of the average fad is that as long as you can burn the pictures, there’s no record of your awful juvenile error to haunt you for the rest of your life. Tattoos last a loooooong time however, and many’s the Jew who’s woken up the day after getting a tattoo and suffering immediate regret. "What, I’m still in Auschwitz? What was I thinking!?"

Moreover, the story had two particularly annoying bits of stupidity. Pardon us for sounding like the Israeli Chief Rabbinical Court, but the guy in the story who celebrated his "conversion" by getting some Hebrew tattoos doesn’t really reflect well on the legitimacy of whatever process he went through. Would anyone think that it was as self-affirming if he celebrated the process by eating his first treyf, as opposed to just being a goy eating pork? More annoying, though, was the MOT whose response to the prohibition on tattoos was to say that "Judaism has got to evolve with the times." Now, we’ll confess that sometimes new eras do raise new issues that might require a new approach. But are we putting ourselves in the camp of the Jewish Taliban if we suggest that a hipster fad is not really a compelling reason to overturn 3,000 odd years of religious law and cultural custom?

What do you think?

About The Author


The Tel Aviv-born, Milwaukee-bred Jewdar has a bachelors' from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters from NYU, and an Honorable Discharge from the US Army, where he spent two years as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division. He's the co-author of "The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies", the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine, and a watcher of TV. Smarter than most funny people, funnier than most smart people, he lives on the Lower East Side with his wife and two sons.

7 Responses

  1. Puck

    I have a tattoo…that’s ‘cos I’m easy though…and I figure I can get it removed before I hit the cemetery :P

  2. shaz

    from this blog post, one might think you don’t read your own magazine, much less look at the pictures…

    and just fyi, my being easy has nothing to do with my tattoos.

  3. jewdar

    It is a long established policy that Jewdar is free to make fun of Heeb Magazine and all it holds sacred, or at least mildly photo-worthy.

    And we’re sure that your tattoos are really, really creative and express your individuality.

  4. jewdar

    What does the fact that it’s not on your chest have to do with its creativity?


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