Dear College Students: Don’t Dismiss Jewish Communal Life Just Yet

There may be much to react to in New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg’s recent piece about how the current President of the United States has “revived the Jewish left,” but I’ll leave to others the task of a full response. Conditioned, perhaps, by reading the piece while monitoring a wave of photographs on my Facebook feed depicting friends and family members bringing their offspring to college campuses, I’m still enmeshed in this three-sentence paragraph:

Alyssa Rubin, a 25-year-old organizer with Never Again Action, told me that in college, she had little interest in Jewish communal life, much of which seemed to revolve around support for Israel. But in the months leading up to the 2016 election, as Trump spouted rhetoric that smacked of fascism and white nationalists grew giddy at their new relevance, ‘I had never thought about my Judaism more,’ she said. For the first time, anti-Semitism seemed an immediate, urgent threat.

What troubled me most was the implication—an idea that I’ve encountered elsewhere and worry may have been inculcated into the current flock of incoming undergraduates—that “establishment” Jewish life on campus “revolves around support for Israel.” If anecdotal experiences like Rubin’s are to be given representative credence in the paper of record, let’s pause and consider another individual example. Mine.

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Words of the Week

“But, OK. I’ll say it: ‘As a Jew, I am pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian.

What does that mean? It means understanding the nuances of the conflict, of retaining historical memory of lost chances for peace. It means recognizing the pain of the other, and acknowledging that there are voices lost.

Rep. Tlaib could be building bridges between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Metro Detroit, and she’s failing. I urge her to reconsider her approach.”

Source: Howard Lovy, “Tokenism Is Racism—Except for Jews” (Forward)

12 Jewish Books on My Radar for Fall 2019

Something that I quickly came to love about French culture was its emphasis on the literary rentrée, the post-summer “return” of focus on an outpouring of newly published books. In that spirit, this post highlights a number of Jewish books that are already on my radar for the fall season. Brief notes on each after the jump.

Covers of the 12 books decribed here.
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