You are on page 1of 1

Jewish Creativity and the Youth – What Time Is It?

‫ מַחֲשָבֹת‬,‫מְלָאכָה לַחְשֹב‬-‫ ובְכָל‬,‫ בְחָכְמָה ובִתְבונָה ובְדַעַת‬,‫ רוחַ אֱלֹקִים‬,‫וָאֲמַלֵא אֹתו‬

One hundred years

ago, young immigrants I am setting up
and "allrightniks" built Q: Is it reasonable to assume that the Jewish future in Hebrew humanism
the American Jewish in opposition to that
infrastructure that we America is more secure because of the rebirth of Israel? Jewish nationalism
have today -- from A: If by “the security of the Jewish future,” is meant the which regards Israel
defense organizations as a nation like unto
to landsmanshaften to possibility of maintaining a thriving Judaism, the answer is
other nations and
nightclubs and "shuls unhesitatingly, Yes…To prove how true that is, imagine
with pools." Now we
recognizes no task
are seeing smaller, what the Jewish future in this country would look like, if for Israel save that of
more localized, but no there were no State of Israel, nor any prospect of preserving and
less provocative, asserting itself. But
efforts to rejuvenate, establishing one. There would then be no common aim for no nation in the
engage, practice, and which Jews everywhere, with all of their diversities of world has this as its
live Jewish lives only task, for just as
organized by people belief and practice, could strive as a means of giving an individual who
younger than 40 on expression to the spiritual, social and moral potentialities wishes merely to
their own terms.
In cities across the of their three-thousand year old tradition. Without the
preserve and assert
country they are opportunity of demonstrating what Judaism that has a free himself leads an
creating their own unjustified and
minyanim instead of field for itself can do to further social and spiritual meaningless
joining synagogues; progress, the Jewish people is like a musical genius who existence, so a nation
lacks an instrument on which to play…The establishment with no other aim
they are writing and
publishing their own deserves to pass
journals instead of just of the State of Israel thus means for Jews everywhere, and away.
subscribing to existing
ones; they are playing
notably in America, an instrument by which the Jewish –Martin Buber, “Hebrew
Humanism” (1942)
their own music, people is enabled to play a significant role in human
putting out records,
and producing their
civilization and demonstrate the validity of its holiest
own concerts. They are ideals. By making Jewish life more worth living, it serves to
hosting salons and maintain the loyalty and devotion of Jews everywhere to
movie screenings.
They are involved in their heritage and insures its continuation and
the creation of Jewish enhancement. --Mordechai M. Kaplan, Know How to Answer. New
life that is thoughtful,
popular, and exists York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (1951) pp. 48-49
largely on the marginsClearly, we writers—and the Jewish community in general—need another way of thinking about North
of mainstream Jewish
American Jewish life and identity. We look to the new-Jew writing vanguard to do for us what the great
organizational life. (Ari
Y. Kelman, Testing, testing:Jewish authors of the 1950s and 1960s did for previous generations of alienated Jews. But we find that
Jewish creativity on theour new writing fails us. With few exceptions, it continues to portray the North American Jew of
margins: Ginsberg’s era. Our composite personality is no longer that of the perpetually marginalized neurotic,
http://www.njjewishnews.c dominated by traditional parents and rejected by the outside world. So why cling to an edge on which the
TestingTesting.html) Jewish people no longer teeter? – Hal Niedzviecki (The Death of Edge,

I don’t know exactly when, but at some point, the Jewish institutional world shifted its focus when it
comes to today’s 20- and 30-somethings. It wasn’t enough to declare the existence of a “singles crisis”
and urge us to get married; all of a sudden it was about babies. Today, Jewish cultural creativity seems to
be at an all-time high, with new magazines, fellowships and artistic initiatives appearing regularly.
Perhaps a conference of funders realized that many of us are so committed to our creativity that we can’t
support community institutions in the same proportion that the previous generation did. Add that to the
rising alarm over intermarriage rates and over Jews in their breeding years who are getting married later,
if at all, and a new priority emerged. Despite the countless hours spent in promoting new Jewish
initiatives, the only act of Jewish creation that seems to matter to “the establishment” is procreation; as if
someone decided that if our generation can’t make donations, the least we can do is make Jewish babies.
– Esther D. Kustanowitz (Make Babies, Not Contributions