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Confessions of a Secular Jew

By Eugene Goodheart
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Book Details
  • Author: Eugene Goodheart
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Overlook Press
  • Published: 2001-06-25
  • Edition: Illustrated
I was raised in full consciousness of being Jewish. I was sent to a Yiddish shule and I can read and speak Yiddish. But I am not a Yiddish speaking Jew: Yiddish is not part of my essence. I am not a believer. I do not celebrate the holidays, nor do I atone for my sins on Yom Kippur. And I have transmitted virtually nothing of Yiddishkeit to my children. This failure of mine became the subject of a quarrel with my father who told me I had in effect thrown away the gift of Yiddish he had given me. My children were no longer Jews. . . ". What it means to be a Jew lies at the very heart of A Matter of Identity, a memoir and an examination of the nature of Jewish identity in an increasingly secular world (and whether a secular Jewish culture really has a future in America); of the pain of a heritage lost-or in danger of disappearing-not only in the religious sense, but in the sense of the history, the culture, the humor much of which defines Jewishness and some of which defines Yiddishkeit. But what is "Jewishness" anyway? And what are the links that bind Karl Marx to Saul Bellow or Spinoza to Philip Roth; The Pale to Brooklyn. These ideas-and many others-lie at the very heart of A Matter of Identity, and Eugene Goodheart's wrestling match with the questions of faith and cultural identity is sure to gather in spectators-believers and doubters alike.

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