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Founder of 'Hip to be Heeb' magazine speaks to students

Marjorie Madresh

Issue date: 5/28/04 Section: News
Marjorie Madresh

TRIANGLE NEWS WRITER

Founder of Heeb magazine Jennifer Bleyer spoke at the University May 24.

Bleyer discussed her magazine, which was launched February 2002, and the independent media. She also talked about how the magazine's name has caused tremendous controversy, since the word Heeb comes from an old English slur for the word Jew. The magazine was criticized for such a controversial name mostly because The Joshua Venture, a non-profit group backed by Steven Spielberg, granted them $60,000 to start up a business.

Spielberg was questioned as to why he funded a magazine that would use an ethnic slur as their title. While people were disputing whether the name of the magazine was appropriate or not, Bleyer appeared on "The Howard Stern Show" and CNN's "TalkBack Live." She explained that it wasn't an act of anti-defamation but just a way of communicating to the younger Jewish generation.

"Instead of calling each other Jews, they would call each other Heebs as a term of endearment," Bleyer said. "I liked the name because it wasn't Yiddish and it wasn't Hebrew. It evoked a very American Jewish sense."

Bleyer was 26 years old and wanted to start an original idea that no one had thought of before. She was raised Jewish, and growing up she had heard the term Heeb used by her friends in a friendly, humorous manner. Heeb is short for Hebrew and denotes a young, trendy Jewish person.

Bleyer graduated from Columbia in 1998 and when she was 25 years old decided to start her own magazine. Bleyer spoke about how she always had an interest in the Jewish culture and wanted to pursue her fascination with Jewish identity.

Since the magazine was getting a lot of controversy because of the name, people were anticipating the publication of their first magazine to see what all the hype was about. The public wanted to know what articles would be in this notorious magazine.

"What are they going to cover? Are they going to talk about Israel? Are they going to talk about the Holocaust," Bleyer said. "People would go through what they thought were typically Jewish issues. What they found instead in the first issue was something like 'Jewfros - A review of Jews talking about their big, curly, kinky hair."
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