THE NEW JEWS by James A. & Alan L. Mintz -- Eds. Sleeper

THE NEW JEWS

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Diverse reflections by young Jews in search of identity in the affluent diaspora where, for better or worse, Judaism is ""an ancillary set of commitments to a basically American way of life."" Much of this, as the title indicates, is a dialogue between the second and third generations. The suburban, success-oriented, melting-pot parents have, willy-nilly, produced children who are radical activists or mystical communards asking that the Jewish tradition accommodate them by revitalizing the 'despised' and 'deviant' strains -- ""mysticism, sectarianism, Hasidism, liturgy, religious poetry. . . non-violence and sensuality."" The most urgently felt and often-repeated prayer is for some response from the ""wedding of Judaism and suburban lite"" to the marriage of radicalism and youth culture. A rabbi agrees that Judaism as practiced in Scarsdale and Great Neck will not serve the young girl who said ""my life is too rich and beautiful for Judaism."" A young activist proclaims: ""I am a Jew, an American, a Revolutionary. . . to those who honestly question the compatibility of these categories, I declare my belief that the synthesis is a necessary prerequisite. . . ."" Included are some lukewarm to fervent considerations of Israel and Aliyah (the return), a sharp indictment of Hillel -- ""a structural block to the formation of meaningful Jewish groups on some campuses,"" a call for a ""reworking of the rationale of the legal system,"" and another marginal but interesting summons to use cinematography to realize and disseminate Jewish history and symbol by a young filmmaker who hopes to do for Judaism what Bunuel and Bergman have done for Christianity. All the contributors are earnest and most are intelligent, though there is a certain amorphousness to some of their complaints. Mama and Papa ought to be reassured -- the kids are certainly not godless heathens and, thanks to their alienation from the mainstream of American life (""a spiritual Hiroshima""), the rabbis would seem to have a unique opportunity to reclaim the assimilated young.

Pub Date: June 14th, 1971
Publisher: Random House--Vintage paperback original