The Death of Jewish Culture

Not so long ago, Jewish culture seemed to flourish in America; but now all signs point in the opposite direction. What happened?
Lili Liana as Lea in the 1937 film version of S. An-sky's Yiddish play The Dybbuk.
Lili Liana as Lea in the 1937 film version of S. An-sky's Yiddish play The Dybbuk.
Essay
May 4 2014
About the author

James Loeffler, associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and scholar-in-residence at Pro Musica Hebraica, is currently the Robert A. Savitt fellow at the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. His “The Death of Jewish Culture” was the featured monthly essay in Mosaic for May 2014.


Fifteen years ago this spring, I walked through the doors of a gleaming new postmodern sanctuary on New York’s Upper West Side. Known as Makor, this nightclub-cum-gallery billed itself as a secular Jewish arts-and-culture mecca for New York’s young hipsters. Its leaders promised to rebrand Judaism for the age of world music and poetry slams. If its name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because Makor quietly shut down in 2006. Despite an infusion of cash and a friendly takeover by the 92nd Street Y, its graying great aunt, the cultural center could not survive.

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More about: America, I.L. Peretz, James Loeffler, Jewish Culture, Jewish literature, S. An-sky, Zionism