The Epic of the Gen-X Jewish Teen

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.

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

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

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University