In response to Allan Arkush’s summer 2018 cover article on Jews in the American melting pot, an impassioned and unsparing assessment of the future of American Jewry, four leading thinkers weigh in:
- Jack Wertheimer—whose book, The New American Judaism (Princeton, 2018), was the occasion for Arkush’s essay—furnishes the first reply, arguing that Jewish assimilation is not an inexorable process.
- David Biale, a distinguished UC Davis professor of Jewish history, revisits his own provocative 1998 essay, at which Arkush took aim.
- Edieal Pinker, a Yale professor of operations research (and deputy dean in its School of Management) offers a fresh statistical analysis of the 2013 Pew study of the U.S. Jewish community.
- Erica Brown, an award-winning educator and author of 12 books on Bible, Jewish leadership, and more writes: “On the bottom of the pot live Jewish clichés, nostalgia, kitchy-ness, and an uninformed Jewish pride.”
Finally, Allan Arkush responds to his critics.
In writing his first book for young readers, Aharon Appelfeld seems to have split himself and his life story between the two title characters: resourceful Adam, a boy of the land whose knowledge of the forest keeps them safe and fed, and bookish Thomas, a doubter in both faith and his own abilities.
Sacrifice is both foreign and familiar. Actually sacrificing an animal is difficult to imagine, and yet we continue to speak freely of sacrifice in connection with political and moral obligations.
I mug at myself in the mirror and recite the old Monty Python gag.
In 1948 screenwriter Ben Hecht lectured “a thousand bookies, ex-prize fighters, gamblers, jockeys, touts,” and gangsters on the burdens and responsibilities of Jewish history. The night at Slapsy Maxie’s was a big success, but the speech was lost, until now.