BACKGROUND OF SHAUL MAGID
Shaul Magid is a professor of religious studies and the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Chair of Jewish Studies in Modern Judaism at Indiana University. In addition, on the site he says that he grew up in a secular Jewish household in New York and then become serious about religion at the age of 20 in which he dove deeply into the world of Hasidism. He says that he is fascinated by the "complex nexus of Judaism and American counterculture" of his youth and writes about the topic as a scholar rather then an observer. In the introduction he states that, "proximity does not by definition produce bias. Investment does not necessarily yield apologetics. The best critic, perhaps, is one who is open… about what is at stake, collectively and personally, in his or her scholarly projects" (confirm that!!)
Magid's brilliant introduction really sets the tone for the rest of his book. American Jews or Jewish Americans? American Judaism or Judaism in America? One is; the other describes. It is without question that America has offered Jews the most loving society in the Jewish Diaspora, but at the same time it is also proving to be problematic. Jews are in a current state of transition in that they have to figure out a way to adapt their Jewishness beyond their ethnicity. The Jewish leaders in America have been wondering how to handle the sky rocketing assimilation and intermarriage rates, because they are fearful that it will lead to the end of not only the race, but the religion. When the first Jews settled in America they based their identity on ethnicity, but modern day Jews aren't following in their footsteps.
OVERVIEW OF HIS BOOK
What Magid attempts to make clear is that in the past Jews would identify with each other based on their ethnicity. Yet, now in modern times, due to the rate of intermarriage and multi-ethnic make up of many Jews, Judaism is going to have to give something up in order to survive. Rachel Adler puts it bluntly when she says, “For Judaism's future to be rescued something will have to die”. There are two ways of going about the situation. The first is to totally give up tradition and the second is to survive, but the only way to survive is going to be to adapt. Magid's point is that the Jews of today, and the future, will feel a sense of belonging to Judaism like ways that we have never seen before. It is important to note that the role ethnicity plays in America is becoming smaller and smaller. This is evident in large numbers of surveys done by PEW and others. As a result, in order to survive, Judaism, will have to change it's old ways of relying heavily on ethnicity.
In chapter (insert here), Magid talks about Zalman Schachter-Shalomi who is one of the founders of Jewish Renewal. It is with his viewpoint that Magid says Jews need to analyze their position and make some necessary changes. For example, many American Jews identify closely with the Holocaust and Zionism, but the younger...