Do You Know Me?

I’ve been a Chanel N°5 girl for years. I can identify the unique fragrance from a mile away. I own more Chanel N°5 products than I care to admit, thanks to an expensive addition that is fueled by frequent visits to international Duty Free shops. I am so wrapped in the aroma of Chanel N°5 soap, powder, lotion, deodorant, hair spray and perfume that I’m convinced this actually is my own natural scent.

I was flipping through Instagram last night and came upon an image. As you might imagine, it caused me to linger….



My first reaction was: A new N°5? What’s wrong with the old N°5?

Then I feared: OMG, is the “old N°5” kind of like wearing something my mother or grandmother would wear? Am I old and dated by using “old N°5”?

In disgust: Crap, what will I do with the inventory stashed in my bathroom cabinet? Ebay?

Why? I groaned:  According to the Chanel website, “New to the collection, it is the N°5 of today — a modern, fresh and vibrant embodiment of the eternal scent.”

And there it is. Chanel is suffering from an identity crisis. It needs a “N°5 of today.” The millenials – who are all about the here and now – aren’t bought into the “olfactory heritage” which is the “idea of femininity, a masterpiece of chic, passed on from generation to generation.” Younger generations want something new. Different.

Wow. Sounds like the challenges facing Judaism today. M’dor l’dor – from generation to generation – simply may not be a concept that resonates with people today; especially given the nature of today’s families. It’s very clear that more members of the tribe are opting out today than “in.” They are looking for new and different ways to invest their time and money. The traditional institutions and their ways of engagement have lost their appeal and power to attract (or guilt people into participating).

Chanel is crying out…WAIT!!!! You THINK you know me and you DON’T. Will the new N°5 prove itself and engage a new type of consumer? What will it take to turn public opinion? A free sample and one good whiff?

Most Jews think they know Judaism, but they don’t. They can’t name the five books of the Torah, the prophets, or the writings. They don’t know the difference between Talmud and Mishnah. They cannot name all of the Jewish holidays, the associated rituals, or the prayers that accompany them. They don’t understand how an ancient, rich tradition can be relevant today. It is true they can recall great…or horrible…Jewish experiences, but even participating in those events doesn’t mean they actually KNOW Judaism.So how can we impart real knowledge and change Jewish opinions?

Chanel invested in and came out with a new product. It is trying to change its image. I’m eager to see what happens.

Judaism needs some new products. Old ones need to be dusted off and repackaged too. It’s time to invest, rebrand, and aggressively market. It’s time to say…


Tomorrow I’ll be at Duty Free at JFK. If it’s available, I’ll buy new N°5. Sometimes change is necessary. 

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