The situation of American Jews today is deeply paradoxical. Jews have achieved unprecedented integration, influence, and esteem in virtually every facet of American life. But this extraordinarily diverse community now also faces four critical and often divisive challenges: rampant intermarriage, weak religious observance, diminished cohesion in the face of waning anti-Semitism, and deeply conflicting views about Israel.
Can the American Jewish community collectively sustain and pass on to the next generation a sufficient sense of Jewish identity in light of these challenges? Who should count as Jewish in America? What should be the relationship of American Jews to Israel?
In this thoughtful and perceptive book, Robert H. Mnookin argues that the answers of the past no longer serve American Jews today. The book boldly promotes a radically inclusive American-Jewish community one where being Jewish can depend on personal choice and public self-identification, not simply birth or formal religious conversion. Instead of preventing intermarriage or ostracizing those critical of Israel, he envisions a community that embraces diversity and debate, and in so doing, preserves and strengthens the Jewish identity into the next generation and beyond.
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About the Author
At Stanford, he chaired the Jewish Community Federation and served as president of the Stanford Hillel Foundation. Between 1994 and 2003, he served on the International Board of the New Israel Fund as its Secretary and Treasurer. A leading scholar in the field of conflict resolution, Professor Mnookin is the author of nine books, including most recently Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight.
Table of Contents
1 The Puzzling Nature of Jewish Identity 11
2 The Matrilineal Principle 31
3 Must a Jew Practice Judaism? 45
4 The Puzzle of "Jewish Blood" 57
5 Peoplehood 79
6 Who Is a Jew in Israel? 97
7 Who Is a Jew in America? A Twenty-First-Century Standard 115
8 Can We Survive Acceptance? 129
9 The Challenge of Israel 165
10 The Challenge of Intermarriage 189
11 Raising a Jewish Child 203