'OBSERVANT READER': INTRODUCTION/RECAP
This is the fourth time I'm trying this through Blogger. Damn it. Keeps trashing my posts even after I've saved them as drafts. The damn URL links erase the rest of the post....
I cannot wait to move to Typepad.
Take 4 begins now.
For those of you who missed it (and this is admittedly an oversimplified summary), in her piece in last Sunday’s New York Times, Wendy Shalit points to the new trend in contemporary Jewish fiction: protagonists who grapple with Orthodox Judaism. She points to prominent writers who “have renounced Orthodox Judaism—or those who were never really exposed to it to begin with” as portraying “deeply observant Jews in an unflattering or ridiculous light.”
She tells of her own embrace of observant Judaism, and her joy at seeing that the stereotypes of religious people that she had been exposed to were not true. She also brings up the notion of outsiders and insiders, and who has a more authentic perspective.
The whole issue of inside versus outside is a question of authenticity, itself a matter that is the source of much personal struggle and communal contention for Jews of all stripes. Who has the right to call themselves a Jew? Who has the educational background that qualifies them to speak on Jewish issues? Who among us has been sufficiently immersed in a particular expression of Judaism to become an expert, even a fictionalized one?
I don’t consider myself Orthodox. Or necessarily affiliated with any major label of Judaism. Except maybe LOBSTr. But I’m fairly knowledgable Jewishly and Hebraically, and I’m also a writer; I'm in a state of constant questioning, and juggling my various identities to avoid from dropping any of them. So perhaps that makes me enough of an insider and an outsider to be able, at least, to write this essay semi-intelligently. One hopes.
(To be continued...)