You've heard of Gen X, what about Generation J? They are Jews who don't go to synagogue, keep kosher, or speak Hebrew, but they are searching for a new Jewish identity. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the struggle over what it means to be Jewish. Also, some memories of an old Jewish kitchen.
Lisa Schiffman tells Steve Paulson who's included in "Generation J," the title of her book. She says it's third or fourth generation American Jews who have fallen away from traditional practices like speaking Hebrew or even going to services. Many of them have married non- Jews, but they still cling to their Jewish identity. Also, Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg has a more traditional view. He believes there is an essential Jewish identity and that it's threatened by assimilation. Jim Fleming talks with Rabbi Hertzberg, whose book is "Jews: The Essence and Character of a People."SEGMENT 2:
Nathan Englander is a hot young writer who's being compared to Jewish literary lions like Bellow, Roth and Malamud. His collection of short stories is called "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges." He talks about the stories and tells Steve Paulson that they reflect the Orthodox world he grew up in. The stories are both funny and poignant, but Englander believes they are not disrespectful. We also hear two story excerpts read by Bob Skloot.SEGMENT 3:
Claire Gorfinkel is an active member of Temple Sinai in Glendale, California and a fundraiser for the American Friends Service Committee. She tells Judith Strasser what's different about having a woman rabbi, and why she credits the Quakers with helping her rediscover the religious significance of her Judaism. Also, Elizabeth Ehrlich tells Jim Fleming about getting to know her mother-in-law by cooking with her in her kosher kitchen. Beyond food, the lessons included family history and Jewish tradition. Ehrlich has stuffed it all into a memoir, "Miriam's Kitchen."Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 99-09-12-A.
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