Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Should American Jews Stop Obsessing over the Holocaust?

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Should American Jews Stop Obsessing over the Holocaust?

Article excerpt

One of the more striking, and to my mind surprising, results of the recent 2013 Pew Research Poll "A Portrait of Jewish Americans" is that in response to the question "What's Essential to Being Jewish?" the No. 1 "essential" was "remembering the Holocaust." Seventy-three percent of respondents listed the Holocaust as the primary essential of Jewish identity as opposed to, for example, "Leading an Ethical and Moral Life" (69 percent), "Caring about Israel" (43 percent) and "Observing Jewish law" (19 percent). In other words, most American Jews, living in an incredibly tolerant, open, and accepting society in which they are free to practice their faith, still identify with something that did not happen to them nor did it happen in the country in which they live (and in many cases, did not happen to any members of their family). This negative imagination of Judaism has produced what Jacob Neusner considered a state of arrested development that can only have a negative impact on the future of Jewish life.

Jacob Neusner has been deemed the most published human being alive, writing, co-authoring, editing, or translating over 1,000 books in a literary career that has spanned over half a century. …

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