The Jews were trending in 2022 in a way few could have predicted — but, I have to say, I came kinda close.
At the end of 2021, I guessed that in the new year, Adam Sandler would start a “shlubleisure” line. That may not have happened, but at least Jerry Seinfeld became a fashion model. OK, sure, Steven Spielberg didn’t adapt the train-set-based musical Starlight Express, but there’s no denying the significance of model trains in The Fabelmans.
And while Kanye West did not, as I imagined he might, release a diss track of Leonard Cohen, he sorta dropped a (highly hateful, very bigoted) diss track on the entire Jewish people when he threatened to go “death con 3” on us.
And so I enter this year’s prediction business somewhat scared of my own powers. As I light latke-scented menorahs, parse the gematria of the opening lines of Leon Uris’ Exodus and play Debbie Friedman records at half speed, I will, as always, strive for accuracy, but also take care not to predict anything too egregious.
Here are 23 definitely accurate predictions for 2023.
1. Taking their cue from Tumblr’s elaborate meme of the never-made Martin Scorsese crime film Goncharov, cinephiles on Letterboxd plant a false memory of a bogus 1986 Coen Brothers film, Hecky Plotz, about a shmatta factory worker (John Turturro) in the 1920s who, through a series of darkly comedic events, becomes the fall guy for the Teapot Dome scandal. Also featured are John Goodman as Warren G. Harding and Frances McDormand as a narcoleptic flapper named Mabel Marfhan.
2. Comedian Gary Gulman and Google co-founder Larry Page launch a Twitter competitor called Kvetch. The first Kvetch will be sent from Gulman to Page, bemoaning the beta’s user interface.
3. Taylor Swift partners with Seth Rogen’s weed company, Houseplant, to produce ceramic bespoke “Lavender Haze” bongs, so named for her Midnights single. They’re included as part of the class-action settlement from TicketMaster botching her tour sales.
4. Paul Simon starts work on Graceland 2: The Return. He abandons it when he learns it’s no longer controversial to travel to South Africa.
5. The long-ago announced Fiddler on the Roof remake stirs up a casting debate when Dame Judi Dench is given the role of Yentl the Matchmaker. But, a screen test silences skeptics, with one leading scholar of Yiddish theater hailing Dench as “the second coming of Molly Picon.”
6. Following the success of Hanukkah on Rye, Hallmark announces plans for more Jewish holiday fare: Smooches in the Sukkah and Talk to You on Tisha B’Av. The Anti-Defamation League raves that these titles are “bizarre, misguided but not outwardly antisemitic.”
7. Kvetch is discovered by antisemites, who, in their eagerness to “troll the chosen” make it the third-most downloaded app on iTunes. Posing as Jews with names like “Sheldon Shekelstein,” many find themselves slowly charmed by the humor of actual Jews on the platform. The tide turns when Gab founder Andrew Torba, hiding behind an account called “Heeby Menorahberg,” makes and posts a picture of a challah recipe from Molly Yeh.
8. Doja Cat, who was rapping the praises of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza for much of 2022, ditches the fast food taqueria for McDonald’s. To prove she’s all in, she has one rib replaced with a McRib, prompting many a topical sermon on Genesis 2:22.
9. Months after announcing his shocking conversion to Catholicism, French Jewish comic Gad Elmaleh leaves the faith. When pressed, he said he missed adafina, found communion wafers bland and was misled into thinking conversion meant his own Pope hat.
10. Marvel’s Moon Knight gets a second season on Disney+ and sways critics of its approach Jewish representation by introducing a new seminal trauma for the young Marc Spector: that time at bar mitzvah lessons when Rachel Weiner saw him trip on his way up to the bimah.
11. The Haim sisters reveal that there are also three Haim brothers, Ezra, Elan and Duvid. They have no musical ability to speak of, but play Magic: The Gathering competitively.
12. Longtime couple Henry and Nancy Kissinger separate. Not long after, TMZ spots Nancy dining at Nobu with a newly single Harry Styles.
13. Kvetch becomes a major platform in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential primary. In a format shift not seen since the televised Kennedy-Nixon debates, Kvetch conducts debates for the Republican and Democratic presidential fields in-app, with live commentary (read: heckling) by Eric Andre and Moshe Kasher. Ezra Klein will later opine that “this election will be decided by Kvetch.”
14. As Ukraine enters its second year of war, Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a special Oscars appearance via video from a secure location in Kyiv. “I may not be a member of the Academy,” the president jokes, “but since Sean Penn lent me his Oscar, everyday I’m being sent a DVD of Confess, Fletch for my consideration. Putin can’t find me, but somehow Jon Hamm can!”
15. Following the splash made by New York magazine’s “Nepo Baby” cover, generational talents Zoey Deutch, Ben Platt and Zoë Kravitz are spotted wearing T-shirts that read “Nepotism is Nothing Without Talent” and “Not Your Nepo Baby.” The trend gains some traction among famous children of famous people — until Yair Netanyahu posts an Instagram wearing a similar design.
16. After dropping Kanye West, Adidas recruits Richard Kind as the face of the label formerly known as Yeezy (new name: Clompys). The change of spokesperson is announced with an ad campaign showing the character actor petting puppies, dispensing balloons to children and picking a friend up from the airport. The slogan urges consumers to “try a little kindness.”
17. Leaked production photos for the second season of Nathan Fielder’s The Rehearsal hint that the comedian-auteur has reconstructed the Temple Mount in a Bushwick, Brooklyn, warehouse as part of a dry-run for peace talks.
18. Inspired by James Gray and Steven Spielberg’s respective autobiographical turns in Armageddon Time and The Fabelmans, Pauly Shore decides it’s time to tell his story. A dark horse in the 2024 Oscar race, He Shills, She Shells (by the Comedy Store), is the comeback no one saw coming.
19. “Kvetch” becomes the word of the year. It’s uttered in the halls of Parliament, the Kremlin and at Mel Gibson’s dinner table. The Yiddish world is ambivalent about the development, prompting the Forward article “Yiddishists kvetch that Kvetch has lost its Yiddishkeit.”
20. Having dipped his toe into Jewish waters with Leopoldstadt, Tom Stoppard announces that his next project will be a five-part play about the life of the Baal Shem Tov, a figure he finds “endlessly fascinating.” Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth Ephraim Mirvis is an early reader. “Tom did his research,” he tells The Jewish Chronicle, “But I had to remind him that the Besht probably didn’t use words like ‘knackered’ or ‘chuffed.’”
21. Timothée Chalamet and Bob Dylan are spotted touring the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention in Bellingham, Washington. Chalament explains he went to better prepare himself for the Dylan biopic Going Electric — to truly understand what the phrase means. Dylan is more cryptic, noting that he sometimes feels like the elephant Thomas Edison electrocuted.
22. The Israeli Antiquities Authority searches Mar-a-Lago following reports that former President Donald Trump flushed missing segments of the Dead Sea Scrolls down the toilet.
23. Kanye West, Elon Musk and Nick Fuentes lose thruster power on the maiden voyage of SpaceX’s Mars-bound shuttle. Presumed alive, their signal cuts out, leaving the world they left behind free of their opinions. With a slower news cycle, the Forward busies itself with the news that matters most: Nancy Kissinger’s rebound romance with Pete Davidson.
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