THE NARROW BRIDGE by Marla Brettschneider

THE NARROW BRIDGE

Jewish Views on Multiculturalism
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Brettschneider (Political Theory/Bloomsburg Univ.) brings together 20 articulate voices to walk the narrow bridge over the troubled waters of multiculturalism. The foreword by Cornel West, of Harvard, anticipates the many contributors who discuss the ``unique Jewish cultural amalgam'' in America ``that has yielded both relative material prosperity and existential anxiety.'' Ironically, it is the collection's only gentile contributor who raises the question of Jewish intermarriage and assimilation, the very ``melting pot'' that multiculturalism rejects (``Are the state of Israel and palpable anti-Semitism,'' West asks, ``the only solid pillars for Jewish identity and continuity in light of a Jewish exogenous marriage rate of over 50 percent in America?''). Moreover, three quarters of the contributors seem to display stronger multicultural credentials as leaders of feminist and lesbian organizations than as proponents of Jewish ``difference.'' Nonetheless, the professors of various disciplines gathered here, like sociologist Nora Gold, seem to have started out sharing the hope that multiculturalism would, in her words, ``provide a social climate where Jewish uniqueness would be legitimized along with the uniqueness of other social groups.'' Most are disappointed that multiculturalism has not only failed to welcome Jews, but may have contributed to a rise, rather than a decline, in anti-Semitism. Brettschneider says, ``Historic anti- Semitic fantasies have resurfaced at times--now from marginalized, rather than powerful, groups--about how Jews run the world and are to blame for the world's problems . . . despite our minority status and experience, often we are marginalized in multicultural circles.'' Many of the contributors seem to have subsequently turned inward, to work toward increasing the Jewish community's acceptance of women, homosexuals, and Jews of color. America is throwing a loud, colorful, multicultural party, and these academics (painfully successful, white, and secular) wonder why they weren't invited.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8135-2289-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Rutgers Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996