Archive | April, 2014

Column: Some of my answers to ‘Why be Jewish?’

The second installment of my new column for The Jewish Standard came out on April 17. The March column talked about the importance of the question “Why be Jewish?” So I followed up this month with some of my own personal answers to the question:

In March I wrote in the Jewish Standard about the challenges posed to the organized Jewish community by my generation, the much- (if not, over-) discussed Millennials (“So, really, why be Jewish?”).

We need to refocus ourselves, I said, by turning away from questions like “Who is a Jew?” The key Jewish question of our time is this: Why be Jewish? “With the arrival and maturation of my generation, the Millennials, the question, ‘Who is a Jew?’ is rather passé,” I wrote. “The fact is that ‘Who is a Jew?’ is the wrong question. To maintain our relevance—to regain it, really—the question we must ask today is ‘Why be Jewish?’”

Although the rest of the column more deeply addressed the Millennials and the reasons to ask the why-be-Jewish question, a couple of readers (who read the piece much more sharply than I apparently had) pointed out that I did not offer my answer to the question.

They were right to point that out. It’s cheap to demand that others answer the question on my behalf. So I’ll offer up some answers here.

Check out the rest of it at The Jewish Standard.

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My new column: Answering ‘Why be Jewish?’

I started writing a monthly column for The Jewish Standard (“the oldest Jewish weekly in New Jersey“) back in March. Many thanks to my friend, Larry Yudelson, for the opportunity.

The first installment, “Ask the right questions,” was published on March 6:

With the arrival and maturation of my generation, the Millennials, the question “Who is a Jew?” is rather passé.

Forget the halachic dimensions to this endlessly debatable topic. Forget all the moralizing arguments over the issue. Forget the demographically induced paranoia, the post-Holocaust hand-wringing, the Israeli legal maneuvering (not to mention the pandering that comes with it), and the denominational infighting. And — for heaven’s sake! — forget the Pew study.

The fact is that “Who is a Jew?” is the wrong question. To maintain our relevance — to regain it, really — the question we must ask today is “Why be Jewish?”

Check out the rest of it over here. It was also published, with the very slightest of tweaks, by New Jersey Jewish News.

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