The current chapter of the American Jewish story is unique: Never before in Jewish history has a society been so receptive to Jewish culture, ideas and people. Here Jews experience not only tolerance, but celebration. This has engendered a central paradox of the Jewish engagement industry: the effort to entrance American Jews about Jewish experiences might seem superfluous in an era in which America itself affirms Jewish culture and values.
In a recent piece for The Washington Post, Naomi Klein argued that an overlooked cause of the current economic crisis was “Brain Bubbles.” Running down a list of highly regarded presidential economic advisors in the current and former administrations whose theories and prognostications turned out to be decidedly wrong, Klein wrote that in a Brain Bubble, “the intelligence of an inarguably intelligent person is inflated and valued beyond all reason, creating a dangerous accumulation of unhedged risk.”
The Jewish communal world often operates in a vacuum. By its very nature, the enterprise of nurturing and sustaining a particular identity in the multicultural quilt of American society necessitates a seemingly introverted focus. Thus it is that much of the innovation in the Jewish world percolates in its own universe, separate from the outside world.
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