Tolstoy in Florida

Last night we saw Ana en el trópico [Anna in the Tropics], a Spanish version of the play which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003. The production was sentimental in the best sense: feelingly written and acted, with some soaringly lyrical monologues. I can't write a knowledgeable review, because I didn't understand all of what was said -- ninety percent, but not everything. (My wife can recommend the simultaneous English translation.) We enjoyed ourselves quite a bit; the story enacted parallels between life and literature (the title refers to Anna Karenina, one of the "love stories" read to sultry effect by a new lector in a cigar factory) which are not as directly or emotionally made by other contemporary works. (Depending, of course, on what you think of Reading Lolita in Tehran.)

The Repertorio Español is housed in a small, homey building on 27th Street between 3rd and Lexington. I couldn't help but draw some parallels and contrasts between it and the Folksbine, New York's Yiddish theater.

The most whopping difference, of course, is that the Repertorio is clearly still the theater of a large, Spanish-speaking immigrant population, or at least a population that understands Spanish on the stage and needs the language on ticket stubs, programs and the like. The Folksbine does have some Yiddish speakers and "understanders" at its performances, but never more than a few dozen, and some of the actors themselves are not notable for their proficiency. (I have a friend, who's participating in a reading there, who says that when she tries to speak Yiddish to the rest of the cast she gets blank looks from most of them.) I appreciate the Folksbine and I think Yiddish theater is important, if only to maintain some modicum of cultural self-respect. (I don't think it does anything to "keep Yiddish alive" [i.e. maintain the spoken language], but that's another story.) I do think that a publicly-supported institution that functions as a sort of Yiddish cultural ambassador has a responsibility to include more Yiddish in its organizational apparatus: programs in Yiddish and the like. But that's the ideologue talking.

The other similarity, based on this one data point, is that the plays I've seen at the Folksbine and this play at the Repertorio had in common a felicitous mix of crowd-pleasing music-sex-and-violence with some more lyric stuff for those of a literary bent.


Speaking of Spanish, I had an interesting conversation today at lunch with Mercedes Cebrián, a freelancer for La Vanguardia who's writing a piece on New York Yiddish culture. Her blog, Gachas at Tiffany's, is written in a slangy good humor which is fun to read, though (again!) I don't understand every word. ("Gachas" is apparently a homestyle porridge, Spanish kasha, if you like.) Apparently she's going to send me a copy of her book of short stories and poetry [scroll down to the bottom of the page for the review, in Spanish]. I don't understand why it's not posted on her blog for easy purchase . . .

In La Vanguardia's culture supplement for September 22nd, which Mercedes gave me, there's a long article by a Manuel Francisco Reina, a Spanish poet who's about my age, entitled "Poetas en Nueva York" (Poets in New York). It shows how ignorant I am of the New York poetry scene that his thumbnail classifications come as news to me. Francisco Reina writes, somewhat breathlessly, that New York "continues to be the modern Alexandria of arts and letters, the siren that seduces poets on both sides of the Atlantic." (I guess we should hire the babysitter more often so I can go out and get seduced.) He continues: "In contrast to the theoretical impoverishment of European poetry, ethical and aesthetic debate in New York is in enviable health." Two basic currents, say the author, are coexisting and merging in this seductive, sirenic Alexandria of ours.

On the one hand: the new formalists, also called the Missing Measures after the title of a book by the critic and poet Timothy Steele. "The new formalists have a certain Victorian air. . . .Though they are the object of scorn, the fruits of their labor are worthy of praise." Along with Steele, Francisco Reina includes in this group the poet-critics Frederick Turner, Brad Leithauser, and Wade Newman. Its most oustanding poets are, he says, Dana Gioia, Annie Finch, Rhina Espaillat, Honor Moore, and Nikki Giovanni.

[Come to think of it, I'm not sure I agree with the classification of all these very different poets in the same group. No, I'm definitely sure I don't agree with it. But I find the overview useful, and think you might too, so I'm blogging it.]

In the other corner, according to the author of the article, the "identity poets," proceeding from the loins of Allen Ginsberg. To quote him at length:

At first glance it's quite evident that, over against the martial order of
neo-formalism, identity poetics purifies the distinct identities of New Yorkers
as if poetry were to be converted into the pulse or blood of the city, as if it
were an independent nation of lyric [. . .]

Robert Duncan has become the father of this movement and an example of a dialogue of supposedly contrary currents. In addition, he paved the way for other trends, such as "ethnic poetry," when he wrote at the end of the sixties: "To compose such a symposium of the whole, such a totality, all the old excluded orders must be included. The female, the proletariat, the foreign; the animal and vegetative; the unconscious and the unknown; the criminal and failure — all that has been outcast and vagabond must return to be admitted in the creation of what we consider we are. " With this proposal, Duncan was decades ahead of what was yet to come.

To repeat: I don't agree with Francisco Reina's dichotomy. I don't think that formalists and identity poets productively carve up, much less exhaust the space of New York poetry. But, like I said, it's useful to see what an outsider thinks. And such classifications serve as a good excuse to think about where I place myself on the spectrum.

(The article also includes an informative section on the Spanish poetry scene in Nueva York, but I don't have time to get into that right now.)


Does God care who we vote for?
A dialogue

Person One. Of course not!

Person Two. But wouldn't it be a disengaged, bloodless God who didn't care who we voted for?

P1. Perhaps God cares who we vote for, but He* doesn't tell us who to vote for.

P2. Of course God tells us who to vote for, but not in so many words. Prophecy is no longer active in this day and age, but we have many other ways of communicating with God -- from the workings of the human mind, to the deliberations of the halachic process, to moral inspiration.

P1. So you're equating your own political decision-making with God's will? That's some powerful chutzpah!

P2. I'm not equating the two -- I'm saying that the process of coming to a political decision, for a religious person, is motivated by the same strivings and understandings which underlie the relationship that one's entire life bears to God.

P1. Huh?

P2. Think of it like this. If you believe in God, and you would prefer to engage in some sort of imitatio Dei, you can't always be a hundred percent sure that you're doing exactly what God wants, for two reasons: one, because it's difficult to ascribe desires to God, those being attributes of people, and two, because even if we accept that God has desires, it doesn't follow that we can even approximate them.

P1. What does that have to do with voting?

P2. Just that it's not implausible to imagine that God would prefer an outcome of history favoring one presidential candidate (let's say) over the other. But, even though it's not implausible, it might not be probable that God actually engages in history in that way. (He might indeed be actively involved in history, just not on the same dimensions, or with attention to the same details, which we might imagine to be most important.) Furthermore, our own political decision making might not correspond to God's.

P1. That seems awfully complicated. Can't we just vote without recourse to God?

P2. Maybe. But just as it would be a bloodless, disengaged God who didn't care who we voted for, it would be a disengaged (or at least sharply compartmentalized) religious person who didn't involve God in her political decision-making.

P1. So who does God want me to vote for?

P2. [Answer stricken to maintain blog's political neutrality.]

*God identified as He for stylistic convenience only.


A New York curiosity

Even though I know nothing about phonology, I enjoy reading phonoloblog. I e-mailed the proprietor with a question that's been bugging me, especially since I'm going to be moving to the Lower East Side sometime during the next few months.

I live in New York City, and there's a street on the Lower East Side called East Broadway. (This is not the same as the more famous Broadway, where "the neon lights are bright," etc.) I have noticed that most native Lower East Siders pronunce the name East BroadWAY, that is, with the accent on the second syllable of Broadway, while they pronounce the name of the Great White Way this way: BROADway, with the accent on the first syllable. Do you have any guesses why this might be so? Thanks.
I got the following prompt response:

Hi Zackary,

The word "broadway" is a two-syllable compound composed of a one-syllable adjective ("broad") and a one-syllable noun ("way"). Compounds like this are always accented on the first syllable in English, and this is one of the ways in which they are distinguished from regular adjective-noun combinations. For example, the phrase "black board" is accented more on the second word "board", and can refer to any board so long as it is black in color. The compound "blackboard", on the other hand, is accented more on the first syllable "black", and refers to a special type of board (the kind that you write on with chalk), and it may be of any color -- there are also green blackboards, for instance.

If the distinction between "East BroadWAY" and "BROADway" by Lower East Siders really is as consistent as you say, these speakers may just be using this as a way to clearly distinguish the two street names in their speech, since one is better known to them and the other is better known to most other people. I would think the extra word "East" would be sufficient to do that, but perhaps not.

That's just a guess. It's an interesting question, and probably one that is best answered by a Lower East Sider.

-- Eric

So how about it? Any LESers past or present want to chip in with agreements, disagreements, or folk etymologies?


By the way, I have another piece in the Forward, a short profile of Aaron Lansky on the occasion of his new book.


Pollution and cancer in China

The recent article in the Times is harrowing, starting from its title. But the scientific questions it raises are just as important as the sympathy and disquiet it evokes. There are two issues here. First, what is the relationship between the recent increased pollution in rural China and cancer rates (or death rates due to cancer) in those regions? Secondly, apart from the epidemiologic facts, why are the people interviewed in the article so sure that they have cancer?

A brief, incomplete survey of the epidemiologic literature (oh, let me come clean here: I just went to Medline, typed in "China+epidemiology+pollution," and read a bunch of abstracts. It's Google for epidemiologists!) indicates both rather more and less than is pointed to in the Times. The rural residents complain of gastric and other GI cancers, and the available literature (much of which is, not surprisingly, available only in translated abstracts of Chinese-language articles) points to increased rates of esophageal cancer after exposure to polluted water. (I should note that the tricky part of epidemiology is figuring out the contribution of many different factors. "Correlation does not imply causation" might be tattooed on the body of every epidemiologist.)But there are also a number of articles which point to a broader array of deleterious effects, from nasopharyngeal cancer to hepatitis B infection (which can lead to primary liver cancer). A few studies, as well as the Times article, mention what would seem to be a more acute endpoint: frank toxicity due to astronomical levels of various toxins, effluents, and general nasty chemicals in well- and riverwater.

The Times article implies that the rise in cancer rates due to pollution is a recent phenomenon, of the past couple of decades. I think this is true in a sense, but the sense was corrupted due to necessary abridgment for journalistic purposes. The course of events probably goes something like this: over the past few decades, maybe since the economic liberalization that was allowed during the 70s and 80s (my Chinese history is weak, but I think this is right), industrial activity has produced and allowed widespread pollution. This pollution has indeed led to increased cancer among rural Chinese -- but only because rural Chinese are living longer (due to improved nutrition and hygiene) and are thus able to develop cancer during their additional lifespan. In these polluted rural areas, it's only over the past decade or so that these cancer cases have reached a critical mass that can't be ignored.

Another possibility is that these diseases among rural Chinese, though probably to be laid at the feet of polluters (and the Chinese public-health establishment, necessarily weakened by totalitarianism -- cf. the recent SARS mess), are also caused by simple toxicity due to the ingestion of a high concentration of pollutants.

This is just rank speculation, of course, but it's speculation that I would bet Chinese public-health workers and epidemiologists have to engage in, to decide whether cancer is, in fact, pandemic in rural China and what to do about it (besides, obviously, cracking down on pollution).

* * *

It's not clear from the article in the Times that the people interviewed do in fact have cancer. (They are horribly ill, but it's not apparent from what.) I think that in some cases they might be extrapolating from changing causes of death among people they know. As the Chinese get richer, their causes of death may shift from infectious diseases (with which many rural Chinese may already be acquainted) to the so-called "diseases of affluence" -- heart disease, stroke, and cancer. As it turns out, the Chinese Red Cross recently released a study of widespread ill-health among urban Chinese. [Strangely enough, the study isn't mentioned on the CRC's Web site. Maybe it's on the Chinese site -- can anyone tell me?]

* * *

China's the most populous country in the world, with huge populations that are urban, rural, urbanizing, or migrating from city to country. I hope China deals with its public health problems in a way that will serve as a model for other systems.


Put the tsedek in tzedakah

My friend Mike Wenthe, a faithful reader of and sharp commenter on this blog, sends along a Darfur appeal:

Leslie Brisman, professor of English and a friend of ours, sent out a charity appeal in lieu of his usual Rosh ha-Shanah card, and I immediately thought of your series of posts about the situation in Darfur and the potential for your website to get the word out about relief efforts. Here's a quotation from Leslie's letter:

"Declarations are important. But is acknowledging genocide fulfilling our obligation to witness, to act in the spirit of 'Never Again!'? Who is doing something about this? Save the Children is there, has been there and is going to keep working in North, West, and South Darfur.

The organization has now launched an appeal for $4.6m to further its food, security, nutrition, health, child protection, water, and sanitation activities."

Leslie then says that he's appealing to 100 friends in hopes of getting at least 36 responses ("the traditional minimum, in Jewish tradition, to 'save the world,'" he writes). He's asked us to send checks to him, made out to Save the Children, before Yom Kippur if possible. Why do I tell you this? Because you're the only other person I know personally who has been talking about Darfur, believe it or not! And it may be that you, too, could send out a call for another group of lamed-vavniks to put the tsedek in tsedakah during these High Holy Days.

Besides Save the Children, there are a number of other organizations doing work in Sudan, or aiding other groups' work, including the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief and Concern. Anyone interested in contributing to Leslie's fund, please write me and I'll furnish you with his address.

And, with that, let me wish a gut gebentsht yor -- a wonderful 5765 to all regular readers, occasional guests, and misdirected Googlers! May you all be posted in the blog of life.


A hive of bloggers buzzing

A refreshing realization: the blogosphere can be as self-important as any other medium.


Putting words in his mouth

My latest for the Forward: Letting Loose the Golem on Society's Dilemmas.


How do you say "American" in Jewish?
It's Arrival Day, everybody! Unpack your luggage!

American Jewry is a many-layered thing. Even limiting myself to prescriptivism and staying away from historical prediction, I could still talk about any number of issues that are burning a hole in my tallis: tracing a route between assimilation and fundamentalism; Jewish poverty and public health; what sort of Jewish school I hope against hope will exist by the time my daughter's old enough to attend.

Today, though, I'll finish up by talking about Jewish languages.

Ashkenazic Jewry (of which most American Jews are descendants) has through its long history been characterized by what's been variously termed "internal bilingualism" (Weinreich) or trilingualism (Dovid Katz) - Yiddish as the vernacular, and both Yiddish and Hebrew/Aramaic as written (and to some extent spoken) languages.

Such diglossia is a thing of the past for American Jews. The Chasidim and us wacky Yiddishists aside, American Jews speak, read, and write only English. (Immigrants from Israel are a special case.) This is not surprising -- such language shift happened long ago in Western Europe, and (some argue) was in full swing in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust.

What's relevant to American Jews in particular is that the language to which most of us have assimilated is -- English. We speak the world's most widespread language, and, thus, the world's most widespread Jewish language. (Two Jews meeting on the street who know only that the other is Jewish, but not what language she speaks, would understand each other most reliably in English.)

What does this mean for us? Recall what I posted earlier from Michael Walzer on pluralism in America -- political allegiance is shared, while cultural specificity is manifold. I think the same model can and should be applied to us American Jews. English is our own much as it is the world's language, but it is not by any stretch our only language. It is in the best interests of the English speaking world to make it possible for smaller languages to continue to exist. Similarly, the Anglophone, American Jewish establishment should see that it is in our best interest as Jews to preserve a linguistic-cultural mix that has been our content and context since our earliest days.

This mix is difficult to specify, and it must, of course, change with the priorities of the community. But a mix should always be available. (This is something that was suggested by Amnon Ophir, the principal of Prozdor when I was teaching there. For various reasons he was not able to follow up on it.) American Jews should be able to receive education in a Jewish literary or spoken language, whether it be loshn-koydesh, Ivrit, Yiddish, Ladino, or some other tongue. Such availability should not depend on ideological stance or political fashion: if I want to learn any Jewish language, I should not be told (or signalled by the absence of institutional funding) that other languges are more appropriate for study. Of course, most will want to study loshn-koydesh or Ivrit, but who knows what sorts of broadening a greater spectrum might foster?


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Open house: Sunday, September 12, 12-3
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The seller reserves the right to accept or reject any offers. Floorplan available on request.


What Jewish culture is: a modest proposal

There have been a number of posts on this blog about Jewish culture -- it's high time we try to define it. (Yet another topic that's relevant in the run-up to Arrival Day 2004.)

0.1. Jews are those who define themselves as such.

0.2. Culture encompasses any product meant to inform, entertain, inspire, horrify, etc.

1.0. Jewish culture is culture produced by a Jew or meant predominantly for Jews.

Corollary 1. Not everything created by those of Jewish parentage, or those who others recognize as Jewish, is necessarily Jewish culture.

Corollary 2. Not everything created in a Jewish millieu, or in a Jewish state, is necessarily Jewish culture. For example, not every cultural product of the State of Israel is Jewish merely by virtue of being Israeli.

Corollary 3. Not everything that meets the criteria above for Jewish culture is necessarily Jewish themed, or concerns itself mainly with traditionally Jewish topics.

I don't mean to say that this is the best or even the only plausible definition of Jewish culture. Heck, people might prefer not to define it at all, since (I'm guessing) that might tamper with its indefinable whatness. Me, though, I think it's more helpful to try to stake out our positions on the issue. For example, the definition I suggest here is reasonably conservative, and possibly helpful, when treating 19th and 20th century cultural products: musical compositions, novels, poetry, political treatises, music-hall banter, and the like. Many of these can be traced to individuals, who in turn generally possess some sort of self-identity, Jewish or no. This definition fails when we ask, say, whether CNN is Jewish.

Perhaps I can rephrase. I'm trying to understand what it means when we talk about American Jewish culture. One popular route is to say that all American culture, since it has benefited so substantively from the Jews, is in some sense Jewish. I say, yes, but in a way that's so broad as to be rather unhelpful. Another is to say that Jewish culture necessarily involves Jewish languages or traditionally Jewish themes (Jewish religious texts, halachah, etc.). But I find this too narrow. To take a non-American example, many readers find Kafka to be "intuitively" Jewish (even if they have at best a foggy notion of his own ethnic allegiances).

This definition is not primarily meant to say who's in or who's out, but to help me draw comparisons and contrasts between similar sorts of cultural creations.

Postscript: I corrected a couple of egregious stylistic and factual errors on the basis of some helpful comments.


Soft-drink science

The JAMA site seems to be down, so I can't go read the much-ballyhooed (and disagreed-with) article about the influence of soda on type 2 diabetes. (Not that I particularly want to go read it; how many Nurses Health Study articles can one go through in a lifetime? Plus the hypothesis seems boring.)

Different claims about this research have been made by quarreling bloggers and media types. Without scrolling down to the bottom of this post, can you guess which of these claims are contradictory?

1. Soda is associated with an increased rate of type 2 diabetes.

2. Not all relevant confounders were controlled for in the study in question.

3. The current study contradicts a previous study.

4. The current study was properly conducted according to current standards of epidemiologic practice.

5. Soda should be avoided by those with other risk factors for diabetes.

6. Any number of other unhealthful foods would yield the same risk increase for type 2 diabetes.
7. The risk increase is small.

8. The risk increase is statistically significant.

9. The risk increase does not seem to warrant a broad-based campaign to stop soda drinking.

Do you want to know the answer to the trick question? It's not a surprise: none of these statements are mutually exclusive! In fact, I think all of them are true.


What should the American Jewish community look like?
Thoughts before Arrival Day

In the run-up to Arrival Day 2004, The Head Heeb has been productively speculating about the future of American Jewry. I think it’s also necessary to engage in some exhortation. How should the American Jewish community reframe itself in the next 350 years – or the next 50? Of course the next decades will bring uncontemplated changes, but that’s a truism. No one can foresee the future – even the Biblical prophets did not have that as their main charge. Rather than reacting to unforeseen changes, let’s imagine an American Jewish community we would like to live in.

To that end, I want to address something that’s been missing from Jonathan’s posts: some understanding of how Jews, or any other ethnic-religious group, fit into American society. With such an understanding we can more clearly lay out what we would want our community to look like.

My wife recently got me a copy of Michael Walzer’s What It Means To Be An American, a slim collection of eloquent essays which treats the relationship between our patriotism and civic virtue (national and public) and religious, ethnic, and cultural allegiances. In his essay “Pluralism: A Political Perspective,” first published in 1980, Walzer makes some observations worth quoting at length.

The growth of state power sets the stage for a new kind of pluralist politics. With increasing effect, the state does for all its citizens what the various groups do or try to do for their own adherents. It defends their rights, not only against foreign invasion and domestic violence, but also against persecution, harassment, libel, and discrimination. It celebrates their collective (American) history, establishing national holidays; building monuments, memorials, and museums; supplying educational materials. It acts to sustain their communal life, collecting taxes and providing a host of welfare services. The modern state nationalizes communal activity, and the more energetically it does this, the more taxes it collects, the more services it provides, the harder it becomes for groups to act on their own. State welfare undercuts private philanthropy, much of which was organized within ethnic and religious communities; it makes it harder to sustain private and parochial schools; it erodes the strength of cultural institutions.

All this is justified, and more than justified, by the fact that the various groups were radically unequal in strength and in their ability to provide services for their adherents. Moreover, the social coverage of the ethnic communities was uneven and incomplete. Many Americans never looked for services from any particular group, but turned instead to the state. It is not the case that state officials invaded the spheres of welfare and culture; they were invited in by disadvantaged or hardpressed or assimilated citizens. But now, it is said, pluralism cannot survive unless ethnic groups, as well as individuals, share directly in the benefits of state power. Once again, politics must follow ethnicity, recognizing and supporting communal structures.

What does this mean? First, that the state should defend collective as well as individual rights; second, that the state should expand its official celebrations, to include not only its own history but the history of all the peoples that make up the American people; third, that tax money should be fed into the ethnic communities to help in the financing of bilingual and bicultural education and of group-oriented welfare services. And if all this is to be done, and fairly done, then it is necessary also that ethnic groups be given, as a matter of right, some sort of representation within the state agencies that do it.

[. . .]

America’s immigrant [and religious-cultural: ZB] communities have a radically different character [than their counterparts in other countries]. Each of them has a center of active participants, some of them men and women who have been “born-again,” and a much larger periphery of individuals and families who are little more than occasional recipients of services generated at the center. They are communities without boundaries, shading off into a residual mass of people who think of themselves simply as Americans. Borders and border guards are among the first products of a successful national liberation movement, but ethnic assertiveness has no similar outcome. There is no way for the various groups to prevent or regulate individual crossings. Nor can the state do this without the most radical coercion of individuals. It cannot fix the population of the groups unless it forces each citizen to choose a single ethnic identity and establishes rigid designators among the different identities, of a sort that pluralism by itself has not produced.

[. . .]

The survival and flourishing of such groups depends largely upon the vitality of their centers. If that vitality cannot be sustained, pluralism will prove to be a temporary phenomenon, a way-station on the road to American nationalism. The early pluralists may have been naïve in their calm assurance that ethnic vitality would have an enduring life. But they were surely right to insist that it should not artificially be kept alive, any more than it should be repressed, by state power. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made, against the early pluralists, in favor of providing some sorts of public support for ethnic activity. It is an argument familiar from economic analysis, having to do with the character of ethnicity as a public good.

Individual mobility is the special value but also the characteristic weakness of American pluralism. It makes for loose relations between center and periphery; it generates a world without boundaries. In that world, the vitality of the center is tested by its ability to hold on to peripheral men and women and to shape their self-images and their convictions. These men and women, in turn, live off the strength of the center, which they to not have to pay for either in time or money. They are religious and cultural freeloaders, their lives enhanced by a community they do not actively support and by an identity they need not themselves cultivate. . . . Nor is there anything unjust in their freeloading. The people at the center are not being exploited; they want to hold the periphery. Freeloading of this sort is probably inevitable in a free society.
Some observations on this excerpt of Walzer’s essay. First, it seems unlikely that large-scale government support of ethnic-religious groups, such as the author envisions, will become a reality anytime soon. In the absence of this support, and accepting as plausible Walzer’s account of the “center” and “periphery” of the Jewish community (in our case), we should try to propose an American Jewish communal structure which broadly speaking does the following:

1. Funnel funds away from those Jewish communal services which, as Walzer points out, are better, more consistently, and more equitably provided by Federal, state, or local governments, including anti-discrimination and –defamation organizations; welfare; and education. (Not every school which defines itself as Jewish is equally worthy of Jewish communal support.)

As a corollary, the American Jewish community should try to sharply define the limits of its support of Israel, so that this support is justifiable in broader Jewish terms. That is to say, the American Jewish community should attempt to provide for Israelis services which are not being provided by the Israeli government, or which are not being provided in Jewishly defensible ways.

2. Use communal funds (and, it goes without saying, Jewish intellectual and spiritual creativity of the past and present) to emphasize those Jewish cultural and religious institutions which can reinforce the center while attracting, however intermittently, the periphery.

3. Construct a model of American Jewishness which recognizes that communal Jewish interests will not necessarily overlap, and might at times even contradict, broadly civic interests in the well-being of American society at large.

More on this in a future installment, starting with a stab at the notion of Jewish culture in general and American Jewish culture in particular: what they are and what they are not.