Post-modern Judaism

Abigail Pogrebin wrestles with the yearnings behind age-old Jewish holidays and the lessons they transmit for our times.

By JANICE WEIZMAN
May 18, 2017 19:01
A boy sings underneath the Israeli flag at the Israel Solidarity Rally in London's Trafalgar Square

A boy sings underneath the Israeli flag at the Israel Solidarity Rally in London's Trafalgar Square. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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HOW IS a Jew, in these post-modern, post-fact, post-truth times to reckon with the matter of her (or his) Judaism? Though the conundrum of Jewish identity must be considered anew in every era, by each individual Jew, the question can be especially complex today, when the breakdown of once trusted institutions, the challenges of religious extremism, and the cogent arguments of science render all belief, let alone ritual and ceremony, quaint and indulgent.

Nonetheless, roots, cultural legacy and identity are concerns which demand, at some point or another in the course of a life, to be addressed. For journalist and writer Abigail Pogrebin, the author of this memoir, “My Jewish Year, 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew,” that point came in her late 40s when, after years of feeling a need to better understand the details of Jewish observance, she began writing a series of personal columns for The Forward, which later expanded into the book, in which she promised to “dissect and digest every single Jewish holiday… to share my preparation first, my experience afterwards.”

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