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The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century download epub

by Alan M. Dershowitz


Epub Book: 1228 kb. | Fb2 Book: 1601 kb.

First, some stylistic problems

First, some stylistic problems. To begin with, a good 35 pages are wasted on jokes cribbed from a variety of sources .

In this urgent book, Alan M. Dershowitz shows why American Jews are in danger of disappearing - and what must be done now to create a renewed sense of Jewish identity for the next century. In previous times, the threats to Jewish survival were external - the virulent consequences of anti-Semitism. Now, however, in ry America, the danger has shifted. Jews today are more secure, more accepted, more assimilated, and more successful than ever before. They've dived into the melting pot - and they've achieved the American Dream

The Vanishing American Jew book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read

The Vanishing American Jew book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.

By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ. American Jewish life is in danger of disappearing, just as most American Jews have achieved everything we ever wanted: acceptance, influence, affluence, equality. Jews have faced dangers in the past, but this time we may be unprepared to confront the newest threat to our survival as a people, because its principal cause is our own success as individuals.

In Dershowitz's view, the Jewish people will vanish from the planet sometime in the next hundred or so years.

Dershowitz makes a case that the prominent threat no longer lays within institutional anti-Semitism in America. In Dershowitz's view, the Jewish people will vanish from the planet sometime in the next hundred or so years.

One could point to Dershowitz's self-aggrandizing inaccuracies, such as his pretension of putting in the open a topic . Dershowitz's solution? Let a thousand Judaisms bloom: ""There is no one substantive essence to Judaism,"" he argues dubiously

One could point to Dershowitz's self-aggrandizing inaccuracies, such as his pretension of putting in the open a topic (assimilation) that has been only ""whispered"" about, while in fact it has been a primary concern of the Jewish community since the release of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. Dershowitz relies on its statistics to project a dismal future if American Jews don't follow his proposals. Dershowitz's solution? Let a thousand Judaisms bloom: ""There is no one substantive essence to Judaism,"" he argues dubiously. Thus, young people need not be turned off by any one view of Judaism; they're all equally valid.

Alan Morton Dershowitz. Toward an understanding of Jewish identity: A phenomenological study. Michelle L Friedman, Myrna L Friedlander, David L. Blustein. View PDF. Save to Library. Cites background, methods & results. Mishpacha in the American Diaspora: An Exploratory Study of Highly-Involved Jewish Families.

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Taking the stand : an autobiography, by Alan Dershowitz.

Reasonable Doubts: The Criminal Justice System and the . The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-Outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility. Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York. Taking the stand : an autobiography, by Alan Dershowitz. pages cm. 1. Dershowitz, Alan M. 2. Lawyers-United States-Biography.

In this urgent book, Alan M. Dershowitz shows why American Jews are in danger of disappearing - and what must be done now to create a renewed sense of Jewish identity for the next century. In previous times, the threats to Jewish survival were external - the virulent consequences of anti-Semitism. Now, however, in late-twentieth-century America, the danger has shifted. Jews today are more secure, more accepted, more assimilated, and more successful than ever before. They've dived into the melting pot - and they've achieved the American Dream. And that, according to Dershowitz, is precisely the problem. More than 50 percent of Jews will marry non-Jews, and their children will most often be raised as non-Jews. Which means, in the view of Dershowitz, that American Jews will vanish as a distinct cultural group sometime in the next century - unless they act now. Speaking to concerned Jews everywhere, Dershowitz calls for a new Jewish identity that focuses on the positive - the 3,500-year-old legacy of Jewish culture, values, and traditions. Dershowitz shows how this new Jewish identity can compete in America's open environment of opportunity and choice - and offers concrete proposals on how to instill it in the younger generation.

Comments: (7)

Sat
A well-written easy-to-read book that right on the mark as it tackles one of the most difficult problems in contemporary judaism. As with all of Dershowitz' books, this one is filled with humor, meticulously researched and contains compelling arguments in support of his view that organized judaism is failing to provide the proper educational foundation to ensure the continuation of reform and conservative judaism in the USA.

Even if you, like me, do not share Mr. Dershowitz' orthodox background or left-wing politics, don't let that deter you from reading this excellent book.
JOIN
Makes you think about the future of the American Jewish community. The author has some good ideas for perpetuating the survival of the American Jew.
Swiang
Nineteen-ninety-one was an unusually bad year for American Jewry. It began with Saddam Hussein's bombing of Tel Aviv, aggravated by the occasional "No Blood for Israel" banner at antiwar rallies; in August, Crown Heights erupted in black-Jewish violence; a couple of weeks later, George Bush pleaded that he was just "one lonely little guy" fighting lobbyists for Israeli loan guarantees; in November, David Duke nearly won a Louisiana election. Alan Dershowitz's "Chutzpah" was just what Jews needed. It was an unapologetic call to arms, urging American Jews to be proud and assertive, to strike out firmly against anti-Semites and anti-Zionists. A few months after the book's summer 1991 publication, I spoke with Dershowitz. "I'm delighted," he said, "to be known more for my Jewish activism than for my defense of Claus von Bülow."
But for the last seven years, we've seen Dershowitz in a different context than Defender of the Jews. As a hired-gun appelate lawyer, he's moved on to clients every bit as upstanding as von Bülow: Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, O.J. Simpson. So the context for his new book, "The Vanishing American Jew," is quite different: Things aren't so bleak for American Jews in 1998, and Dershowitz is hardly Mr. Credibility. But frankly, if this volume were found chiseled into stone tablets on Mount Sinai, it would resonate little more. It's bloated, wildly unfocused and digressive, a repetitious jumble of ramblings that only infrequently tie into Dershowitz's thesis. The thesis itself-that, for Jewishness to survive without institutional enemies, the next generation needs a *positive* reason to stay Jewish-is hardly earthshaking, having been developed thoroughly in recent years by authors ranging from Los Angeles rabbi Michael Goldberg ("Why Should Jews Survive?") to the redoubtable Michael Lerner ("Jewish Renewal").
Like others, Dershowitz warns of "assimilation, intermarriage, and low birthrates" and locates a bright Jewish future in "the considerable, but largely untapped, strengths of ! our own heritage." But you'd be hard-pressed to locate that simple central point in much of "The Vanishing American Jew"-it's often buried under paragraphs and pages that will frustrate any reader picking up the book based on a misguided trust of the author. Since Dershowitz's editors clearly went too easy on his book, it falls to us to trim it from 370-plus pages to a more appropriate length.
First, some stylistic problems. To begin with, a good 35 pages are wasted on jokes cribbed from a variety of sources. You never have to wait many paragraphs before encountering, "It is also illustrated by the old joke that asks... I was recently told the following story about... I am reminded of the joke about... I end this chapter with a vignette that illustrates..." The jokes themselves (augmented by historical anecdotes and apocryphal stories) aren't bad, just trite, and nearly always irrelevant. Perhaps 10 pages are given over to self-aggrandizing "I was having lunch with" anecdotes about encounters and debates with U.S. and Israeli leaders. Those can go too. Self-evident, pointless rhetorical filler takes up 15 or so pages. "I am not prepared...to concede the end of the non-Orthodox American Jewish community, though I recognize the uphill battle we face," he writes.
Worse than pure filler are the empirically absurd overstatements that will make any reader stop dead in midpage: "Assimilation these days is so cost-free and easy that any Jew who does not want to belong to the Jewish people can resign with less hassle than it takes to get out of the Book-of-the-Month Club." And how about this: "[N]o group in America is less knowledgeable about its traditions, less literate in its language, less familiar with its own library than the Jews." Call it 10 pages. Out come all the egregious slaps at "foolish fundamentalists who find the answers to all of today's problems in the literal words of yesterday's texts." Figuring they won't be reading this book, Dershowitz goes so far as to call ultra-religious Jews "un-Jewish." At lea! st 10 pages. Taking out all the contradictory statements will knock out 15 pages or so. "While insisting that "We are supposed to be a light unto the world," 100 pages later-in an effort to not offend hard-hearted neoconservatives-he charges that Jews who claim that *tikkun olam* (to repair the world) is "the essence of Judaism" are "as wrong as those who claim that the essence of Judaism can be found in Newt Gingrich's Contract with America."
Now here's where we can really cut things down: Maybe 110 pages cover material that simply has nothing whatsoever to do with Dershowitz's thesis. Though, early on, he repeatedly hammers home that anti-Semitism no longer poses a serious threat, he stuffs the book's middle with dozens of impassioned pages on Holocaust denial, black anti-Semitism, Islamic fundamentalism and the Christian right. Not only has this all been covered thoroughly elsewhere, but Dershowitz doesn't even try to connect most of it to his goal of rescuing the Jewish people. And the detours don't end with his discussions of anti-Semitism. There's a discussion of "Is Judaism Messianic?" and a paean to the subject of argument. Don't miss his head-scratching endnote (unconnected, in my copy of the book, to any in-text reference) on the topic of college-campus date rape.
We're down to about 135 pages, not counting the heavily annotated endnotes, and we are entirely justified cutting this remainder by two-thirds, since Dershowitz repeats each of his points several times. So the book ends up the length of a sizable article. But I'll save you the trouble of reading *any* of it. Nearly 300 pages in, Dershowitz hits us with his solution, the salvation of American Jewry. Are you sitting down? Here it is: better Jewish day schools. Though he follows this blockbuster pronouncement with pleas for Judaism to become more open, for acceptance of intermarried couples and "doubting Jews," and for Jewish educators to become leaders, that's basically it. Dershowitz also recommends that Jews read Joseph Telushkin's ! wonderful "Jewish Literacy." I second that suggestion-and add one of my own: Buy the Telushkin volume with the money you'll save by *not* buying "The Vanishing American Jew.
Xanna
Nearly 15 years after the publish date, this work is as relevant today as ever. How are Jews to retain their Jewish identity if they no longer face the powerful enemies of the past to keep them together? Recent statistics show this has been a losing proposition. With assimilation being so easy, requiring merely inaction, what are they to hold on to? And most importantly, why? Does the Jewish way of life (very broadly defined) provide something positive that is not found in secular modernity? Dershowitz focuses on these questions and their possible answers as the central theme to this work. He doesn't have all the answers, but he does have many of the right questions.

Overall, I found this book incredibly fascinating and well written. It is clear, logical and packed with important information that needs to be heard. I feel right at home with his unapologetic (but not total) skepticism toward the Jewish God and unwavering interest in the Jewish people. I am equally drawn to his willingness to entertain theories from every corner of history and his elegant use of thought experiments to test their validity. Dershowitz does a great job of acknowledging his own beliefs while also giving voice to the diversity of other views. The book is not all serious and calculating, however, as it is peppered with humor and personal anecdotes throughout. Other reviewers have found these detracting and unoriginal, but for me (a young professional without an extensive knowledge of modern Judaica) they were illustrative, witty, and I often found myself jotting them down on notecards. This will be treasured most by giving to a friend.
The Rollers of Vildar
While I could write a great deal about this important, and (I hope) influential book, and I don't agree with all of Mr. Dershowitz's conclusions and proposed solutions, the most meaningful thing I can say about it is that it has energized ME, a 46-year old lifelong secular Jew, to try to fulfill my long-held dream to organize Fringe Jews (unaffiliated Jews, alienated Jews, fractional Jews, Gentiles related to Jews, etc.) so that we can all together find ways to feel connected, and to connect our children, to the Jewish world, without being made to feel bad about not being religious, and to have the Chutzpah (to borrow Dershowitz's theme from his earlier book) to assert our right to a place at the table of 21st Century Jewish culture and civilization, but also the sense of responsibility to get whatever version of Jewish literacy we believe we need, and to give it to our kids. Thank you, Mr. Dershowitz!
The Vanishing American Jew: In Search of Jewish Identity for the Next Century download epub
Social Sciences
Author: Alan M. Dershowitz
ISBN: 0316181331
Category: Politics & Social Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Language: English
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (March 1, 1997)
Pages: 395 pages