An eloquent exploration of the many facets of Jewish identity in America. To Bershtel (a New York publishing executive) and Graubard (an Oakland educator), Jews are the choosing people rather than the chosen people. The authors go far beyond the usual Orthodox/Conservative/Reform/unaffiliated classifications to give us a glimpse into the hearts and minds of neo-Hasidim, New Age Jews, lesbian Zionists, ``Jews by Choice'' (converts), and Jews who are agnostic and anti-Zionist. Bershtel and Graubard's commentary and most of the first-person narratives here lean toward this last hue of the spectrum. These monologues exude courage. They not only dare to create hybrid strands of Jewishness with typical American self-reliance and ingenuity, but they are not afraid to display hypocrisy, paranoia, social climbing, or opinions based on misread Judaic texts. The future of America's Jewish community may well be summed up by the Berkeley radical who describes his two sisters: one is a Lubavitcher Hasid raising several children in London; the other, married to a Chicano, ``has no interest in either Jewish or leftist political things.'' A lively celebration of a ``have it your way'' Jewishness that, ironically—given the title—seems more involved in discarding remnants than in saving them.
Read full book review >