Saturday, November 19, 2011

Myla Goldberg (November 19, 1971)

I read Goldberg’s novel Bee Season for two different book clubs – both liked it! Her use of Jewish material in a very strange context was interesting. About her identity as a Jewish American she said:
“The diversity and vitality of American Jewish practice today means that I can be a secular humanist married to a non-Jewish atheist and still be part of a vibrant Jewish community that embraces my family. For such a long-lived, established religion, Judaism has remained steadfastly and impressively committed to its founding spirit of questioning, which has led to our current freedoms in belief, philosophy and practice. On a spiritual level, that means that eschewing a traditional deistic God concept in favor of a humanistic one hasn’t made me a pariah: I can derive inspiration and meaning from the limitless potential of collective humanity and still feel welcome within the larger Jewish community. Though my Jewish identity informs my writing, it does not define my writing, nor do I feel the need to put a label on myself to find readers, as previous generations of Jewish writers may have felt compelled to do. I find the whole Chosen People thing outdated and distasteful, nor do I think that we have a monopoly on any particular set of values, but there are some fantastic ideas contained in Judaism that we can and should offer in our engagement with the world. We find ourselves in an extraordinary place and time in Jewish history, with unprecedented freedom to define who we are and who we wish to be. We should strive to engage the world with the same qualities of open mindedness and empathy that have led to our own success.” – Moment Magazine Symposium on what it means to be Jewish

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