Bintel Blog

The American Jewish Inexperience?

By Alana Newhouse

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Sholom Aleichem, Bintel Blog readers. (Your turn: Aleichem, Sholom). I’m currently on tour promoting “A Living Lens: Photographs of Jewish Life from the Pages of the Forward”, so my posting will be spotty for a little while. But here’s something that could keep you busy for some time.

In the latest issue of The Nation, William Deresiewicz makes a connection between current fiction by Jewish writers (Chabon, Englander, Foer) and what he sees as the rather dismal state of American Jewry:

My own experience tells me that American Judaism has long been beset by a deep sense of banality and inauthenticity. To the usual self-contempt of the liberal middle class is added the feeling that genuine Jewish life is always elsewhere: in Israel or the shtetl, among the immigrant generation or the ultra-Orthodox. Jewish culture as lived by the non-Orthodox tends to feel bland and thin even to its practitioners — the last, worn coins of a princely inheritance… The most visible of the current generation of self-consciously Jewish novelists appear to be avoiding their own experience because their own experience just seems too boring.

Read the full article here.


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