Here at the Jewish Standard, we’ve been pretty forthright in advising our readers that all things considered, they should get as many covid vaccination and booster shots as their medical advisors and pharmacies will allow.
But if what our circulation department tells us is true, not everyone reads the Jewish Standard. So we’re delighted that public health officials in New York and New Jersey are making an active effort to spread the message to Jewish communities outside our usual demographic.
Sadly, we can’t match our praise for their efforts with praise for their results.
Take the sponsored Yiddish-language tweet by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, which operates 11 hospitals in four of New York’s five boroughs as well as many clinics and other facilities.
Its admirable Yiddish message translates to “Are you looking to receive your covid-19 vaccine or booster shot? We have locations in every NYC neighborhood.”
Sadly, its cultural competency doesn’t match its linguistic competency.
True, most Yiddish-speaking men wear a head covering and sport beards. The tattoos, however, are seriously off-message for someone trying to reach Brooklyn’s chassidic community.
This recalls a similarly unfortunate ad put out by our own New Jersey Department of Health last month, targeting the Orthodox community centered around Lakewood.
The Lakewood community presents less of a linguistic challenge for marketers. While it has experienced a small influx of chassidim in recent years, it predominately follows the non-chassidic, Litvak strains of Orthodoxy, which conducts most of its business in English.
Sadly, cultural competency remains a factor.
As Shlomo Schorr, who covers local and New Jersey politics for the Lakewood Shopper and the New York Times noted on Twitter, long peyot are not a thing at the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood.
Nor are Magen David chain necklaces.
The good news for New Jersey Jews is that after being alerted to the error of its way, the New Jersey Department of Health hired Teaneck-based Joseph Jacobs Advertising for culturally appropriate messages to the state’s Jewish communities.
You can find what they came up with for our community on page 33.