Futzing around and eating pickles: The timeless allure of Old Jewish Men

From protesting the cost of pastrami to rating cookies, Noah Rinsky showcases the everyday antics of the Larry David demographic to the TikTok generation


Bob, Dave and Aaron of Old Jewish Men get a sneak peek of Noah Rinsky's new book, 'The Old Jewish Men's Guide to Eating, Sleeping and Futzing Around' (Photo: Noah Rinsky)

Noah Rinsky has spent a lot of time with Jewish men of a certain age — far more than what might be considered typical for someone in their mid-thirties. 

Doing his bit for intergenerational relations, Rinsky, 35, is the creator of the inexplicably beloved Instagram page @OldJewishMen, through which he shares videos that feature a rotating cast of resident American Old Jewish Men (OJM) attending to such tasks as eating pickles at the deli, reviewing a Costco chocolate chip cookie, or protesting the cost of pastrami.

“People seem to like the idea of an old Jewish man just in his element,” said New Yorker Rinsky, who began cataloguing the daily goings-on of his very own OJM — his father — back in 2015.

“There is a video that I took of him kicking this cardboard box. He was trying to get exercise; instead of boxing, he just started kicking a cardboard box. I put out that video and the response was wider than I expected.”

Building on the self-referential humour of famous OJM like Larry David, Rodney Dangerfield and Mel Brooks, Rinsky upgraded the account to its current iteration, which features scripted sketches and soundbites from a now-familiar coterie of OJM futzing around New York City.

“I think that there's just something funny about these guys and the way that they age, the way that they move through the world with no self-consciousness,” Rinsky said.

It was in 2019, when Rinsky expanded his brand to include a line of T-shirts and partnered with creative director Bryan Seversky, that the fully-fledged OJM business began to take shape.

In addition to their popular Instagram, YouTube and TikTok accounts, Rinsky and Seversky have expanded their clothing brand to include the “Lifshitz Collection”, a reference to Ralph Lauren’s very Jewish surname, featuring the Ralph Lauren logo of a horse-riding polo player; the “Meats Collection”, which uses the iconic font of the New York Mets baseball team logo; and the “Jew Balance Collection” — a pun on sports brand New Balance.

OJM fans can also purchase a tank top bearing the slogan “pickle princess” in rhinestones, or a grey jumper featuring a selection of bagels.

Rinsky is working on opening a bricks-and-mortar store for their OJM merchandise in New York City, but his main focus at the moment is the upcoming release of his debut book, The Old Jewish Men’s Guide to Eating, Sleeping and Futzing Around.

Commenting on his inspiration for the tome, which features chapters with titles such as “How to exist in this fakakta world”; “The art of the schmooze”; and “How to live forever”, Rinsky said: “For whatever reason, we kind of think that these old Jewish men — even the successful ones, like Larry David — make a career out of seemingly doing nothing.

“Seinfeld is just about four people futzing around. They're basically just wasting time and having a good time doing it, which Larry David continues to do [in Curb Your Enthusiasm]. It's kind of this culture of, let's look at the little things and not bother with the big things.”

And Rinsky is convinced there is something about this way of being that is uniquely Jewish: “You don't really think about a bunch of Protestants futzing around town, you know?”

The book, which includes illustrations by Australian cartoonist Dick Carroll, is an embodiment of Rinsky’s own admiration for the ineffable charm of his favourite demographic, members of which have, in turn, become social media icons for the younger generation.

Of the OJM who appear in his videos, Rinsky said: “I think that all these guys have a very good way of relating to younger people - they kind of accept what this generation is and aren't trying to change it. They're not trying to say, ‘Get off social media’ or anything like that.

"They're not trying to change the way that people are living their lives. They just kind of accept that these are now the times and they'd rather be part of it than have a bad attitude about it.”

But despite their popularity on social media (the account even has a bagel dedicated to it) the OJM in Rinsky’s videos care little about social media stardom, or for social media at all.

They are, after all, Old Jewish Men: “One of the guys, Aaron, he has a flip phone,” Rinsky said. “He has no access to any of it.”

The Old Jewish Men’s Guide to Eating, Sleeping and Futzing Around is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive