Jewish Creativity and the Youth – What Time Is It?

‫וָאֲמַלֵא אֹתו, רוחַ אֱלֹקִים, בְחָכְמָה ובִתְבונָה‬ ‫ובְדַעַת, ובְכָל-מְלָאכָה לַחְשֹב, מַחֲשָבֹת‬
One hundred years I am setting up ago, young immigrants Q: Is it reasonable to assume that the Jewish future in Hebrew humanism and "allrightniks" built the American Jewish America is more secure because of the rebirth of Israel? in opposition to that infrastructure that we A: If by “the security of the Jewish future,” is meant the Jewish nationalism have today -- from which regards Israel defense organizations possibility of maintaining a thriving Judaism, the answer is as a nation like unto to landsmanshaften to unhesitatingly, Yes…To prove how true that is, imagine other nations and nightclubs and "shuls recognizes no task with pools." Now we what the Jewish future in this country would look like, if are seeing smaller, there were no State of Israel, nor any prospect of for Israel save that of preserving and more localized, but no less provocative, establishing one. There would then be no common aim for asserting itself. But efforts to rejuvenate, which Jews everywhere, with all of their diversities of no nation in the engage, practice, and world has this as its live Jewish lives belief and practice, could strive as a means of giving only task, for just as organized by people expression to the spiritual, social and moral potentialities an individual who younger than 40 on of their three-thousand year old tradition. Without the wishes merely to their own terms. preserve and assert In cities across the opportunity of demonstrating what Judaism that has a free himself leads an country they are and field for itself can do to further social and spiritual unjustified creating their own meaningless minyanim instead of progress, the Jewish people is like a musical genius who existence, so a nation joining synagogues; they are writing and lacks an instrument on which to play…The establishment with no other aim publishing their own of the State of Israel thus means for Jews everywhere, and deserves to pass journals instead of just away. subscribing to existing notably in America, an instrument by which the Jewish –Martin Buber, “Hebrew Humanism” (1942) ones; they are playing people is enabled to play a significant role in human their own music, putting out records, civilization and demonstrate the validity of its holiest and producing their ideals. By making Jewish life more worth living, it serves to own concerts. They are hosting salons and maintain the loyalty and devotion of Jews everywhere to movie screenings. their heritage and insures its continuation and They are involved in enhancement. --Mordechai M. Kaplan, Know How to Answer. New the creation of Jewish life that is thoughtful, York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (1951) pp. 48-49 popular, and exists 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 om/ Jewish people no longer teeter? – Hal Niedzviecki (The Death of Edge, TestingTesting.html)

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

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