Why Do Jewish? A Manifesto for 21st Century Jewish Peoplehood

Zack Bodner. Gefen, $18 (240p) ISBN 978-965-7023-68-6
Bodner, the CEO of a California Jewish community center, responds to the question of how Judaism can adapt to modern life with a superficial summary that doesn’t do the topic justice. Bodner outlines challenges to Judaism that include widespread acceptance of intermarriage and atheism, and the growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora. This cursory history leads into a proposal for an “ ‘operating system’ for Jewish Peoplehood” under the acronym TACHLIS (a Yiddish term for getting things done), which amounts to prescriptions including renewed focus on Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), art and culture, community, holidays and rituals, learning, Israel, and Shabbat and spirituality​. One key original recommendation—that Jewish students spend the year between high school and college in an intensive program focused on faith—lacks detail (including how to make it attractive to teens eager to position themselves for worldly careers). Bodner often notes complexities in a passing way, as in a discussion of Jewish families that observe both Hanukkah and Christmas, or a story about his daughter trying bacon (he’s relieved she doesn’t like it, but doesn’t go much deeper). Readers would be better served by one of Bodner’s sources, Robert H. Mnookin’s The Jewish American Paradox: Embracing Choice in a Changing World. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 11/29/2021
Release date: 12/01/2021
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 246 pages - 978-965-7801-05-5
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