cover image Members of the Tribe

Members of the Tribe

Zev Chafets, Zeev Chafets. Bantam Books, $18.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-05308-1

American Jews may be ``members of the tribe'' by virtue of their birthright, but they are also complacent, overly obsessed with the Holocaust and in danger of self-extinction through assimilation. These are some of the forthright opinions arrived at by Chafets, himself a Jew, as he crisscrossed the United States after a 20-year absence. He lives in Israel and grew up in Pontiac, Michigan. This outsider status gives him a unique vantage point, and his entertaining, breezy, impressionistic travelogue grapples with important issues. He also ventures down seldom-traveled roads as he visits the Jews of the Louisana bayou, a gay synagogue in San Francisco, Jewish prayer services in a Pennsylvania prison, Jews trapped in poverty in a welfare hotel. Author of Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men , Chafets takes an opinionated stance whether he is discussing the Jewish Defense League, rivalry between Chasidic sects or American Jews' relationship to Israel. (October)