The Epic of the Gen-X Jewish Teen

Sept. 29 2022

In the opening of the verse novella Eugene Nadelman, Michael Weingrad introduces us to the titular protagonist, an “acne-speckled” fourteen-year-old “nerd” living in Philadelphia. Set in 1982, the first chapter describes Eugene’s adventures at his cousin Steve’s bar mitzvah in the suburbs. Herewith, an excerpt:

The temple is a mausoleum
Constructed out of stone and glass,
A kind of history museum
Of Jews who reached the middle-class.
It’s one of many edifices
With parking lots and benefices
For clergy paid to sermonize
And tell the people when to rise
And when to sit. The “Neveh Shaloms,”
In Hebrew words no one can read
(With English prayerbooks there’s no need),
Are chiseled over marble columns
Through which few people come to pray
Save for occasions like today. . . .

His Uncle Sol’s already snoring,
Eugene slides past him on the pew.
Must services be quite so boring?
They haven’t even gotten to
The Torah portion yet. The droning
Of Cantor Borowitz intoning
A Hebrew dirge, inscrutable
To those assembled in the shul,
Is interspersed with somber pleadings
From Rabbi Kaplan in his gown
To turn the page, stand up, sit down,
And join him in responsive readings.
With organ playing all the while,
It’s Protestant but with less style.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewish literature, American Jewry, Bar mitzvah, Poetry, Synagogues

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship