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The Revolution Will Be Digital

[Last week, Ha’aretz Chief U.S. Correspondent Shmuel Rosner featured Jewcy editor in chief Tahl Raz as a guest on his site. Raz answered questions about the future of Judaism, Jewish peoplehood in America, and the volume of debate about Israel … Read More

By / April 16, 2007

[Last week, Ha’aretz Chief U.S. Correspondent Shmuel Rosner featured Jewcy editor in chief Tahl Raz as a guest on his site. Raz answered questions about the future of Judaism, Jewish peoplehood in America, and the volume of debate about Israel in the U.S, among other topics. He also responded to inquiries from readers, like the one below.]

Dear Mr. Raz,

I read your comments with interest and with many of them I agree. I do feel, though, that you offer only the analysis, and not the solutions. How do you maintain this sense of "Judaism is important" in this postmodern Jewish world—any ideas?

Thank you. Mike Bental, NJ

But analysis is so much easier, Mike. I can relate to the undercurrent of desperation in your question. Adrift in a landscape of institutional fragmentation and moral vertigo, amidst growing calls for God's death, subjected to the schizophrenic behavior of a Jewish establishment fearful of the advancing shadow of its own mortality, present-day Judaism might seem properly personified by the wild-eyed figure shrieking in hopeless angst in Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream." I don't buy it, however. Maybe that's because I try to avoid whenever possible all the statistics and talk and writing these days on the questions of who is a Jew, and more provocatively, who is a good Jew, and even more provocatively, how do we make two Jews have sex on a regular basis to produce other Jews. Sometimes it can seem as if all of institutional Judaism today is an industry producing endless provocations leading to nowhere and to nothing. The adjudication of all this outdated theo-social arcana misses the whole point, namely, that people don't believe in the importance or power of Judaism (or for that matter, God) because of good marketing or successful reproductive strategies ginned up by their elders, but because they are compelled to by their own experience. We need more great Jewish experiences. Experiences that are fun, edifying, inspirational. The relevance of Judaism is, and has always been, the capacity it offers to change our lives, our communities and indeed our world. We need to be shown how it can do that. We need access to the tools and information it provides. Some of it is going on now on the Internet, in Jewcy and elsewhere. Revolutionary things are going on, driven by spiritually entrepreneurial young people who are using the mediasphere and its technologies to create their own affiliations, start their own organizations, and infuse the community with innovation, creativity, and change. I really do believe, and Jewcy is working to exploit, the opportunities for self-growth and community I think this information age offers. I believe these opportunities will be something qualitatively different, better, than the opportunities of the age that it superseded. How about them overly optimistic apples?

Yours, Tahl

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