GOD IS IN THE CROWD by Tal Keinan
Kirkus Star

GOD IS IN THE CROWD

Twenty-First-Century Judaism
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A meaningful attempt to answer a significant question: How can Judaism survive?

In his first book, financier and former Israeli combat pilot Keinan reflects on a lifetime of varied experiences with his Jewish identity, providing a heartfelt, well-reasoned reflection on the Jewish people. Raised in a thoroughly secularized Jewish family, the author first engaged with Judaism as a source of identity as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy in the mid-1980s. Later, he moved to Israel and joined the elite Israeli Air Force. After experiencing both American and Israeli Jewish communities, Keinan was led to reflect on the existential issues facing the global Jewish population and to search for answers to the problems facing it. The author deftly describes unsustainable splits in the Jewish communities of Israel; as he terms them, these include Secularists, Theocrats, Territorialists, and the Fourth Israel (often poor and undereducated citizens with little connection to religious and political controversies). According to Keinan, these groups live as separate populations that fundamentally disagree on everything from what it means to be Jewish to the very purpose or legitimacy of the Jewish state. Meanwhile, in America, intermarriage and ambiguity regarding the identity of Judaism continue to lead to a decrease in the Jewish population, a decrease that the author believes will be catastrophic in scope within a few decades. Keinan goes on to search out answers for Jewish viability, drawing on crowd wisdom theory to determine what has kept Judaism alive through diaspora and exploring such intriguing options as a Jewish World Endowment or a strengthened Israeli presidency. As a secular Jew, the author mostly discounts the religious aspects of Jewish identity, and his scorn for ultra-Orthodox Judaism, one of the only growing segments of Judaism, is often evident. But Keinan never promises a perfectly balanced book. Instead, he provides an impassioned yet well-reasoned and definitively well-written reflection on an imperiled people.

A thoughtful and relevant assessment of the current state of Judaism.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-525-51116-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2018




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