Better Than The Real Thing

Heeb magazine, the 3-year-old “New Jew Review,” once described as “a sweaty prizefight between hip-hop and sushi in this corner and klezmer and kugel in the other,” revels in odd juxtapositions, mixing pop and Jewish culture for its young Jewish hipster readers. And not just in the editorial content.

Struggling for advertisers in the early days, Heeb’s editors began running humorous ad parodies for stodgy old Jewish companies. “We just thought it would be funny to do a Streit’s [matzo] ad with a black man saying, ‘Damn! That’s a big-ass cracker!’ ” says editor-in-chief and publisher Josh Neuman. Against all odds, Streit’s loved the ad, and paid for it to run in four more issues. It will even be part of an exhibit that the granddaughter of the Streit’s founder is organizing, chronicling the story of 20th century American Judaism by looking at the evolution of Streit’s brand identity.

Other targets of Heeb spoofs have included the Anti-Defamation League and Manischewitz. After seeing the Streit’s ad, Birthright Israel asked to be “Heeb-ified.” The magazine envisioned a kid thinking about all the reasons to go to Israel—Maccabee beer, sun lotion and a box of condoms, along with the text, “Fine, Mom, I’ll go to Israel!” Birthright approved it—but with a falafel sandwich instead of the beer and an orange instead of the condoms. “It’s fun to think about these brands that have been ghetto-ized in the American mind as being old Jewish brands and present them for an audience that has more of a fluidity between their Jewish selves and their modern selves,” says Neuman. Heeb has tried parody ads for the iPod (“guiltPod”) and Absolut (“Absolut Heeb”), too. Says Neuman: “People have suggested that we drop the whole magazine thing and start an ad agency.”