Culture and the Classroom

Programs of Jewish studies in colleges and universities have added greatly to the possibilities for Jewish self-understanding. But they offer no sure pathway to Jewish identity.

May 11, 2014 | Michael Weingrad
About the author: Michael Weingrad is professor of Jewish studies at Portland State University and a frequent contributor to Mosaic and the Jewish Review of Books. 
This is a response to The Death of Jewish Culture, originally published in Mosaic in May 2014

The folklorist Zusman Kisselhof recording Yiddish songs in a shtetl in Kremenets, Ukraine, in 1912.
Reading James Loeffler’s masterful diagnosis of the failure of cultural Judaism, I was reminded of my first meeting, nine years ago, with the newly arrived director of an Orthodox educational center in Portland, Oregon. We were walking out of synagogue services together when he introduced himself by saying: “I hear we’re in the same line of business.” Without wanting to be rude, I felt I had to correct him. “No,” I said, “we’re not. You teach Torah. I teach Jewish studies.”

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