An exchange between the foremost philanthropic supporter of secular Jewish culture and the analyst of its decline.
Let me say it again: Jewish secular culture is too thin and open to support a real collective identity. So now what?
James Loeffler’s essay, “The Death of Jewish Culture,” is a compelling tour de force, which is to say that it says something important and says it with style but also that, in the swoop and slash of its argument, it leaves out a fair amount.
Despite reports to the contrary, American Jewish culture isn’t a “project” and it isn’t dead. Far from it.
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.
Not so long ago, Jewish culture seemed to flourish in America; but now all signs point in the opposite direction. What happened?