- CONTINUING ED
- PUBLIC PROGRAMS
- COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
2005-06 Faculty Development Grant
From the 1940s radio spot proclaiming, "Man, oh Manischewitz—what a wine!" to the 1960s commercial, featuring the converted African American Jew, Sammy Davis Junior reiterating these words on television, to the late 1960s, when Apollo astronaut, Gene Cernan, exclaimed these same words as he took his first steps on the moon, to contemporary beaded Manischewitz Passover purses, the ubiquity of Manischewitz certainly speaks to the influence of a successful branding campaign. While American Jewish life has been the subject of numerous films, books and novels, and museum exhibitions, advertising and the branding of American Jewish identity, is an area sorely in need of attention.
I am eager to tell the story of American Jewish life through the medium of advertising, and am jubilant about the research I was able to initiate at the Joseph Jacobs advertising agency. I learned that for many years the accent of Joseph Jacobs was to place mainstream products in Jewish homes, but recently there has been a growing interest in getting more media space for Kosher brands. This shift is rich with insight into the experience of Jews in America, especially when read against a concurrent American Jewish cultural shift, which asserts the imperative of acculturation over assimilation. In fact, during the week I was in New York, Joseph Jacobs launched its first ever mainstream Manischewitz campaign called "Start Your Ovens!" This was written up in the Friday, July 7, 2006 issue of The New York Times, in an article called, "Manischewitz Wants to Move to a Mainstream Aisle."
My faculty research grant enabled me to launch a project that I view as timely and important. The remainder of my grant will be used towards travel to Philadelphia in December, where I will present my research at the MLA for the session, "Jewtastic: Marketing Jewish Culture." I intend to continue researching the advertising and branding of American Jewish identity, which I believe will extend and nuance the popular understanding of American Jewish life. Upon completion of my research, I hope to publish a book on this topic.