The threats to Jews in America used to be external -- the consequences of anti-Semitism. Now the danger has shifted. American Jews are more secure, accepted, assimilated, and successful than ever. They've achieved the American Dream. That's the problem, Dershowitz warns. American Jews, as a distinct cultural group, appear to be vanishing.
In a provocative call to action, Dershowitz argues that American Jewry is in danger of extinction by the middle of the next century, because of skyrocketing rates of intermarriage and assimilation, combined with low birth rates. In order to survive, "Judaism must become less tribal, less ethnocentric, less exclusive, less closed-off, less defensive, less xenophobic and less clannish," asserts this Harvard Law School professor, lawyer and prolific author (Chutzpah). His most original proposal calls for an overhaul of Jewish education to make classes and study groups more accessible, widespread and relevant to secular Jews who are largely ignorant of Jewish history and culture. He advocates further that Jews become more welcoming of the non-Jewish spouse in intermarriage. Religious Jews, he adds, must accept the validity of secular Jews who reject ritual but embrace Judaism as an evolving civilization. Although Dershowitz believes that institutionalized anti-Semitism has all but disappeared, he offers suggestions as to how Jews can monitor and oppose bigotry among the militia movement, Holocaust deniers, African American extremists and the religious right. His thoughtful, unsentimental analysis of the future prospects of American Jewry deserves close attention. Author tour. (Mar.)
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Little, Brown and Company
September 07, 1997
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