Friday, December 15, 2023

You Don't Have to be Jewish. And Maybe Shouldn't Be.

Some time in 2032 it happened. Late 2032. Just before the High Holidays.

Fred Zeldin, 34, a copywriter at one of the big former-Madison-Avenue, now Twelfth-Avenue agencies, was sent an invitation to a Zoom call. On the call minutes later, after he had been granted his eleven hours of severance, he was summarily fired. 

His 401K had exactly $401 in it. And since during his nine years working at the agency he had never produced anything more notable than a banner ad, Fred had no corrugated box to fill with his belongings, and no real memories either.

Fred was fired for the usual reasons.

Too old.

Oh, and he wasn't working at the speed of culture. In fact, he had written two headlines over the course of a week that didn't have the word "authentic" in them. 

No wonder Fred was shit-canned. 2032 and he has the gall, the audacity, the utter temerity to write something that doesn't sound like everything else.

What was he smoking? Salmon?
Can you imagine, proffering creative that isn't 'borderless'?

No one realized it at first but when Fred was fired, it marked something. 

The passing of something.

For Fred Zeldin was the ad industry's last Jew. There were no more Jews working in the industry. 

Shalom, Fred. 

May all your teeth fall out except one, to give you a toothache.

Of course, harkening back to the 80s, the industry had been full of Jewish people. That didn't mean meetings or shoots weren't scheduled for the Jewish holidays. It just meant a lot of Jews had to miss their Holy days.

Oh well. That's the way it is. When you're a minority.

Later, in the 20-teens and 20-twenties, when Diversity, Equity and Inclusion became a shibboleth--a bludgeon even, at the Holding Companies, savvy Semites could see the right-to-left writing on the wall. 

Though Jews made up less than .2-percent of the world's population, no agency counted them among diverse populations. 

Diverse schmiverse. 

You have to be the right kind of diverse to count as diverse otherwise, you're non-diverse, i.e. disposable, untermenschen--to bring back an old term that seems everyday, to become more vital once again.

Jews aren't diverse, Fred thought. Though as earlier Jews ascended in business, they were outcasts socially. Limited by quotas. Not in the club. Excluded from whole swaths of Amerika.

Fred remembered hearing a story about a rich Jew, Joseph Seligman, barred from a ritzy resort hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY. “No Israelites,” the hotel’s manager informed him. When his rejection led to public criticism, the hotel boss doubled down. He told the New York Times: “Should the Seligman Jew be excluded from first class hotels? I say emphatically yes.”

Fred remembered reading how certain private universities, most notably Harvard, introduced policies which placed a quota on Jews admitted to the university. Abbott Lawrence Lowell, the president of Harvard University from 1909-1933, argued that a "limit be placed on the number of them...admitted to the university." 

At Yale, the Yale Daily News praised Harvard's decision and would "institute immigration laws more prohibitive than those of the United States government." 

What's more, according to historian David Oshinsky, "Most  medical schools, CornellColumbiaPennsylvania and Yale, had rigid quotas in place... The dean at Yale had precise instructions: "Never admit more than five Jews, and take no blacks at all." 

Fred saw it happening--you could hardly miss it. As more and more more experienced ad people turned 40 or even 34 (like Fred) they were axed. Of course, a large number of those older ad people were Jews. Holdovers from earlier times when the industry had had many members of the tribe.

Soon, fewer and fewer Jews were hired--they weren't considered diverse, remember. And we're all about diversity, or, at least, our definition of diversity, which is firmly rooted in the vapor of non-definition. As the Jews, who had comprised so much of the agency world had aged out, their numbers, and no one noticed, kept falling. They were not being replenished. Not diverse.

That brings us to Fred.

Fired at 34. Fred was the ad industry's last Jew.

There were no headlines remarking on the passing of this cultural torch. There were no editorials in the gossip rags that were all that remained of the ad industry's once-vibrant trade press. The fact is, no one noticed that the industry was now Judenfrei. 

Jew Free.

And, therefore, diverse. 

And Jews, who comprise two-tenths of one-percent of the world's population, aren't considered diverse. 

And Israel, just .0001579-percent of the land on our planet--is colonialist state.

Make sense?

You don't have to be Jewish to leave the agency business.
But it helps.

No comments: