Sunday, April 12, 2009


In the course of researching an upcoming article on Birthright, I came across a provocative open letter by Jack Wertheimer. It's interesting to read a more conservative voice than I'm used to hearing around the Kibbutz, especially one that refers "a heartbreaking reflection of what intermarriage has wrought" with zero irony. I also find it intriguing that the anger of Jews like editor Leyna Krow and myself, who find the notion of marrying Jewish out of a sense of duty preposterous at best and oppressive at worst, is matched by Wertheimer, whose most revealing passage might be the following:
Your wish to create a Jewish identity mixing multiple religious traditions is a fantasy, and you know it because of the very ways you think about yourselves—“Frankenjews,” “mongrelized” are terms you employ to describe your fractured selves.
Indeed, what many people who were born and raised Jewish wish to create is not a solely Jewish identity but one that integrates multiple spiritual and/or cultural traditions and is thus syncretic by design. If that's folly, then Wertheimer's conservative stance is simply a typical attack on postmodernism and multiculturalism -- liberal relativism, in other words -- in Jewish clothing.

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