Topic: Heebster Scene
Cover of Matisyahu's album Shake off the Dust... Arise.
While individual ideas, advocacy of specific causes, and edgy artistic concepts are important to the Heebster scene, they cannot sustain it alone. What makes the arena so rich and supportive of a 'scene' is its very multifarious nature, which fosters a network of activity addressing young Jews on a number of levels.
On one level, the different groups create a seamless network of media experiences. Matisyahu, the 'Hassidic Reggae Superstar,' has performed at the release parties for Heeb Magazine. Trumpeter Frank London has appeared in everything from the Downtown Seder to appearances with DJ SoCalled. And performers from Vanessa Hidary (the 'Hip-Hop Mamita') to Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys perform at venues known for promoting Jewish-interest entertainment such as Makor, Satalla (which closed in December 2005), and the Knitting Factory.
But the partnerships also extend into more 'mainstream' organizations through financial, administrative and ideological means. JDub Records and Brooklyn Jews, for example--the first a non-profit recording company of cutting edge 'Jewish' music, the second a geographically oriented group promoting positive and informed Judaism--also names as its co-sponsors Heeb Magazine, the Brooklyn Brewery (makers of 'HeBrew' beer), and the UJA Federation.
In other words, it is important to remember that very little of this activity can be done without financial support; and in order to obtain that support, organizations such as Heeb and JDub must rely upon (by default mainstream) Jewish philanthropic funding--often provided by the very groups against whom these organizations aim to differentiate. As a result, many Heebster organizations have by necessity become adept at writing grants, which (ironically?) address agendas of 'continuity' and religious revival maintained by the mainstream Jewish community.
The tension here between the mainstream and the periphery is thus almost as thick as the cooperative implications.