Conversation about Jewish Identity Today Continues

As the Jerusalem Post article I wrote on the aestheticization of Jewish culture makes the rounds (boosted in large part thanks to a front-page link by the Forward), a number of interesting voices are being heard.
Unfortunately, other voices are too intent on personalizing the issue instead of discussing the claims I made which, I believe, have been well born out by the evidence. I am especially disappointed by BZ, of Mah Rabu, who’s very activities bear out my claims (that there is a richer, content-robust way to engage in Jewish life today), but decides instead to waive away arguments with cultish-devotion to personalities and personal attacks. Too bad.
If it were up to me, I would have focused the UJA/NFJC research effort into cultural developments such as Kol Zimrah, Hadar, Brooklyn Jews, Zeek and others–that is, those content-generating forums that bring together committed Jews who later, as the Cohen/Kelman study points out, feeds Jews to non-content-oriented bar nights.
Unfortunately, nary a press release from the organizations addresses the phenomenon that Cohen and Kelman so rightly point out in their report: non-content oriented cultural activities do not attract the unengaged nor the unaffiliated (and in this I am using affiliated in the larger term of “those affiliated with some form or another of Jewish communal interaction”). What does? Ask these guys. They seem to be successful, even as they remain un-hip.
And that, basically, is the topic of my next article. Suggestions? email arielbeery -at- gmail -dot- com.

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