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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 15, 2005 / 14 Kislev, 5766

This year's Jewish buzzwords

By Gary Rosenblatt


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The ironies and irregularities of contemporary American Jewry


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I received a call last week from an official of a major Jewish philanthropy seeking suggestions for an expert on peoplehood to speak to her group. I told her I wasn't sure what peoplehood meant, especially in terms of finding an authority on the subject.


There are Jewish historians, of course, and rabbis, educators and communal leaders, but none came to mind as a peoplehood specialist. It seems to be one of the buzzwords these days in the community, though, and I'm sure she'll find someone to address the topic.


Speaking of community, at least one authority on that subject says the word is losing its meaning to younger Americans.


Robert Putnam, the Harvard professor and author of "Bowling Alone," the breakthrough sociological study on how we've become increasingly disconnected from family, friends and peers, told the delegates at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities in Toronto last month that he has had to stop referring to community in his surveys because younger people don't know what it means. That alone is telling, and sad.


When it comes to "in" words, phrases, causes and concepts in Jewish life these days, tikkun olam (repairing the world) is still firmly ensconced in first place, though as I've noted here before, it is most often used in ways at odds with its original, traditional intention. That is to say tikkun olam is a favorite reference point for liberal groups emphasizing the universal nature of mitzvos (religious duties) when it is really about recognizing the centrality of G-d in our lives. (As in the Aleinu prayer, recited three times a day, that contains the phrase l'saken olam b'malchus Shakai, or "to perfect the world through serving G-d.")


Tikkun olam is the Jewish way of saying social justice, which at a time of tsunamis and Darfur and devastating hurricanes in the American South has become the galvanizing cause of idealistic Jewish youth.


The amazing success and popularity of the American Jewish World Service, under the inspiring leadership of Ruth Messinger, underscores how deeply the cause of social justice resonates with a younger generation seeking a direct and active role in expressing its Jewish values. Many are turned off to synagogues and ritual observance, and find Israel's policies regarding the Palestinians troubling, or confusing, so they tune out. But they understand that helping those in need is a mitzvah of meaning and depth, and can feel good about themselves in doing good works for others.


Understanding what the younger generation of American Jews is or is not interested in has become an obsession with Jewish leaders, from rabbis to organizational heads to major philanthropic foundations. Sociological studies explore Generation X and Y, and now the millennials, as this cohort of college students are known.


The leaders are deeply worried that our numbers are slipping precipitously, with low birth rates and increasing assimilation and intermarriage. And while these leaders have come to understand that the old ways of sustaining Jewish life through membership in synagogues and organizations are not working, they have not found the magic formula for reaching and inspiring Jews in college or in their 20s who don't want their parents' brand of Jewish life.


Of course there is no silver bullet, no single panacea for the various problems that are threatening our demographic, cultural and religious survival, particularly when many young people question the very notion that Jews must remain a unique people in today's world. Some view their parents' emphasis on dating and marrying only Jews as racist in a society that values openness, tolerance and universalism.


So it's ironic that a growing number of non-Jewish celebrities are showing increasing interest in a tradition with Jewish roots. The fascination with kabbalah, popularized by pop stars like Madonna who express allegiance to a bizarre form of the ancient mystical tradition, is indicative of how "in" Jewish exotica has become in our society — at least to a point.


The trappings of Judaism are more appealing than the core principles of following the commandments. So the instructors in the new kabbalah never associate their brand of mysticism with Judaism by name, and teach that it can bring eternal life on earth. Movie stars wear red "bendels" on their wrists, Time Out magazine has a cover story on "The New Super Jews" in pop culture, and Larry David's HBO comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" probed the intricacies of Orthodox Jewish behavior this season to the delight of some and the discomfort of many, no doubt.


But young Jews, ambivalent about their heritage, take enormous pride in the mainstream culture's interest in things Jewish, never mind how superficial it is.


I suspect that if young Jews were asked to name a living Jewish hero, more would name Adam Sandler, the comedian famous for his "Chanukah Song" ("put on your yarmulke, it's time for Chanukah"), than Natan Sharansky, who exemplified the struggle of and for Soviet Jewry.


Truth is, what's missing in the lives of too many American Jews is the educational foundation to appreciate the depth of our history, heritage, traditions and sense of peoplehood, whatever that means.


Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in ashington and the media regard as "must-reading". Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.


JWR contributor Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher of the New York Jewish Week. To comment or pose a question, please click here.







© 2005, The Jewish Week