Interview: Jonathan Weisman
with Michael Dobkowski for Jewish Book Council
In (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, Jonathan Weisman explores the disconnect between his own sense of Jewish identity and the expectations of his detractors and supporters. He delves into the rise of the alt-right, their roots in older anti-Semitic organizations, the odd ancientness of their grievances―cloaked as they are in contemporary, techy hipsterism―and their aims―to spread hate in a palatable way through a political structure that has so suddenly become tolerant of their views.
Michael Dobkowski: In many ways your book is about Jewish identity and experience in the Trump era. How has the American Jewish experience changed―generally, and for you, personally?
Jonathan Weisman: I grew up in a very Reform household. Although I was raised to identify as Jewish, I—like many Jews of my generation—drifted away, in part because Jews had become entirely comfortable in a pluralistic, liberal democracy that seemed to be progressing inexorably toward tolerance and acceptance.
Notes from a Formerly Terrible Jew
Jewish Book Council; Mark Sarvas is the author of Memento Park: A Novel. He is blogging here as part of Jewish Book Council's Visiting Scribe series.
"I’m a terrible Jew," I used to say—by which I meant that I was wholly ignorant of tradition, taking a sort of perverse pleasure in the shock value of the comment. I was raised by postwar, secular European parents who decided they’d had enough of religion. I didn’t know Sukkot from Shavuot, and we grew up with Christmas trees and Easter eggs. Researching this essay, I learned that into her teens, my younger sister thought one of our parents was Catholic and one was Jewish. I remember being asked to sign the ketubah at her wedding (her husband was observant), and looking blankly at the rabbi when he asked me my Jewish name. He ended up coaching me, with some reproach, through a hastily imitated Hebrew “Moishe.”
The Messy Lives and Loves of the Solomon Family
By Stewart Kampel for Hadassah Magazine
In her debut novel, what to do About the Solomons, Bethany Ball finds many ways for the far-flung dysfunctional Solomon clan to be unhappy—and a few to be happy. As she picks apart the lives, loves, successes and failures of this disparate family, she produces an engaging tale laced with a bit of humor and a heavy dose of sex, drugs and intrigue. Family ties, it seems, even when stretched to the limits, can still pull a group together.