How We Brought the Punk to Judaism

Despite being around for 4,000 years, Judaism as a sustainable religion in America is at a pinch point. That’s because 40% of young Jews don’t connect with the community — and have drifted away because they find Judaism in its current state less relevant to their lives.

Our objective: As America’s largest Jewish foundation, the Jim Joseph Foundation asked us to explore creative and unorthodox ways to get young Jews who don’t engage with the religion to re-perceive what it means to live a Jewish life. They wanted young “untethered” Jews to feel proud of their self-independence, individuality and rebelliousness in looking elsewhere beyond the religion for inspiration and purpose, but still feel connected to their culture and experience in an unspoken, yet communal way.

The Brand's Good

Jim Joseph Foundation is on a mission to support Jewish education of youth and young adults in the United States.

Our Key Insight

Thinking you’re a bad Jew is part of the Jewish experience — a cultural bond that even the most untethered of Jews can not only identify with but emphasize and celebrate in a rebelliously positive way.

The Uncommon Solution

“Bad Jew Mafia.” What emerged was the campaign-turned-black-ops brand Bad Jew Mafia — an underground movement for untethered Jews to express themselves guilt-free, manifested through a collection of street-style clothes and accessories, all brought together through an online web shop. Profits from all merch sales went to United 24, a global initiative to support Ukraine.

The campaign promoting the merch honored those who are part of the tribe and who are participating in their own way — including not participating at all — through out-of-home street posters and a low-fi unboxing experience for influencers who were notable “Bad Jews.”

The Good We Grew

Ultimately, our goal in creating this experiment was to gauge how our messaging resonated with untethered Jews and how they experience their Jewish identity. For those who knew the brand came from within the Jewish community, Bad Jew Mafia was a hit in focus groups. The headlines and decidedly punkish tone elicited amusement and delight — perceived as something cheeky that young people could wear as a statement about the Jewish experience.