We Jews: Who Are We and What Should We Do

  • Review
By – July 30, 2012

The deci­sion to write a book in a pop­u­lar­ized for­mat, with­out the cita­tions of the vast array of the­o­log­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal, soci­o­log­i­cal and anthro­po­log­i­cal sources that were avail­able to the author, is an inter­est­ing one. It may, by def­i­n­i­tion, serve to cre­ate a book that will have a broad­er appeal and thus a greater impact on its intend­ed audi­ence. Rab­bi Stein­saltz, pro­lif­ic writer, schol­ar, edu­ca­tor, and hailed by Time mag­a­zine as a once-in-a-mil­len­ni­um schol­ar,” tack­les a wide range of issues in chap­ters all char­ac­ter­ized by intrigu­ing titles and sub­ti­tles. I found myself at times intrigued and at oth­er times sus­pect of attempts to make sweep­ing gen­er­al­iza­tions about We Jews.” Nonethe­less, Stein­saltz’ insights on our his­toric abil­i­ties to assim­i­late, our fun­da­men­tal long-term lack of uni­ty and uni­fied lead­er­ship, the ten­sion between emo­tion­al­ism and intel­lec­tu­al­ism, and the Jew­ish search for uni­fy­ing prin­ci­ples were par­tic­u­lar­ly fas­ci­nat­ing. The brief ques­tions and answers that fol­low each chap­ter regret­tably tend to be far less illu­mi­nat­ing. Ulti­mate­ly and per­haps iron­i­cal­ly, this book per­haps mir­rors the Jew­ish peo­ple. It dis­plays flash­es of bril­liance inter­spersed with­in a range of impor­tant issues and con­cerns, but ulti­mate­ly and sig­nif­i­cant­ly is unsat­is­fy­ing because it fails to ful­ly real­ize its potential.

William Liss-Levin­son is vice pres­i­dent, chief strat­e­gy & oper­a­tions offi­cer of Cas­tle Con­nol­ly Med­ical Ltd., a con­sumer health research, infor­ma­tion, and pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He holds a Ph.D. in edu­ca­tion and is a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

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