April 19, 2019

An American-Jewish Take on Identity Politics

“Jews have fared poorly both in societies committed to the leveling uniformity of the Left, or the anchored elitism of the Right. By contrast, they have thrived in the meritocracy of America’s open society. But these achievements and the accompanying social acceptance have come at a high cost to Jewish identity survival. The threat to Jewish continuity does not stem from outside violent antisemitism, such as occurred recently in the Pittsburgh terrorist attack, but from a spiraling assimilation from within.

Responding to America’s tolerant comfort zone, the American Jewish population is in a state of serious decline. Some 70% of Jews intermarry, many synagogues of the non-Orthodox variety are closing down or merging, as happened in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, the scene of the mass shooting. Having outlasted nations and civilizations such as Egypt, Babylon, Rome and Nazi Germany, which enslaved, oppressed and annihilated Jews, the lulling of 21st century American Jewry by secularism and relativism into a steady spiritual oblivion marks a staggering betrayal of those Jews who through the centuries knowingly perished in the name of the faith.

How to assure American Jewish identity? In a culture based on choice rather than coercion, for a demographically minority religion to survive, its adherents must see membership as requiring something more than half-hearted affiliation, or eating an occasional ethnic dish.

The first imperative is education – meaning, for the young, an arrangement for religious schooling. The more time spent in religious study, the more likely that this student’s exposure to texts and the Jewish story in history will lead to identity commitment as an adult. For the Jewish adult seeking more education, the Internet features hundreds of thousands of classes, lectures, interactive tutorials. Though the Torah can be taught in any language, Hebrew lends authenticity and historic depth.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."

"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."

"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."

""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""

"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."

"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."

"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."

"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."

"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."

"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."

"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."

"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."