UJC hoping Superjews will attract young Jews


NEW YORK (JTA) — The Jewish federation system is getting into the Facebook game by starting with a micro-activism color war.

The Team SuperJews Color Wars invites Jews termed by the United Jewish Communities as “Next Generation” to join teams that are identified with a fictional Jewish superhero imagined by the UJC, as well as to participate in an online contest to see which team can perform the most online acts of kindness during the eight days of Chanukah.

The project is designed primarily to attract Jews between the ages of 18 and 24, and is secondarily targeted to those 25 to 45, with the aims of having Jewish federations start their own Facebook pages and getting young Jews to make contact with a federation system with which they may not be familiar.

“We are hoping it will generate excitement, bring in new people and reach out to drive traffic to the federation Web sites,” said UJC spokesman Adam Smolyar.

Participants can find the Facebook page by visiting superjews.org. Upon joining a team, they will be given assignments each of the eight days of Chanukah, which starts the evening of Dec. 21. The team that completes the most assignments — which include anything from subscribing to an e-letter, filling out an online petition, sending an e-card to Israel or rating a Jewish-themed video — will win an ornament for each member of the team’s Facebook page.

The Red Team is led by Mega Mensch and Queen Kabbalah, Blue by Captain Israel and Beth L, and Green by Eternal Light and Judah the Giant.

The UJC and its partners in the event, which include the Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Jewish Agency for Israel, JESNA, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and JTA, have given each hero an identity.

The UJC has created dossiers on each and also is creating animated cartoons to be featured on the superjews.org Web site that detail the SuperJews’ adventures.

Judah the Giant acquired his nickname as a multi-sport Maccabiah Games champion. He is the muscle of Team SuperJews, “so strong he seems to be carved from Jerusalem stone.”

Queen Kabbalah immigrated from the former Soviet Union and shoots kabbalistic spells from her mystical rings and bracelets.

Mega Mensch answered an ad on Craigslist for a SuperJews intern and “seems able to be everywhere at once; has globe-spanning Facebook friend list.”

The idea, says the UJC, is to show ordinary Jews that they can be superheroes in a sense by simply becoming involved in the Jewish community even in a minor way.

“We want to convey to younger Jews who might not have been active that you can be an important member of the community just by participating,” said Andy Neusner, a UJC spokesman for the project.

This is the first in a line of UJC initiatives to engage young Jews that will be rolled out in the coming months, Smolyar said. Next up may be a UJC social networking platform.

The initiative stemmed from a comprehensive marketing study and focus groups, he said.

“You have to experiment with different vehicles,” Smolyar said. “This generation, the Next Gen, are clearly on Web 2.0, and you have to have a presence there.” 

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