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Discussing What It Means to Be Jewish

Tablet staffers sound off about Judaism and identity on WNPR

Stephanie Butnick
February 17, 2015

What does it mean to be Jewish? That’s what Colin McEnroe Show on Connecticut’s WNPR news tried to figure out last week. Tablet editor-at-large Mark Oppenheimer and parenting columnist Marjorie Ingall were featured on the segment, and the discussion is worth a listen.

McEnroe opened with a Curb Your Enthusiasm clip and a figure from the oft-cited 2013 Pew study, whose high reported figures of unaffiliated young Jews sparked an alarmist reaction from many quarters of the Jewish communal world. Ingall, Oppenheimer, and the Forward’s Dan Friedman then sounded off on topics like Jewish culture, humor, and identity.

Oppenheimer pointed out early on that Orthodox Judaism is “exploding in numbers,” which in some ways answers the question of Jewish continuity while raising entirely new questions; for example, “what’s to become of the liberal or reform or non-practicing Jew that gave rise to Jewish humor, Jewish Hollywood, what we think of as secularized Jewish culture?”

Ingall mentions social justice as a driving force of Jewish identity, and talks about how Jill Soloway’s Amazon show Transparent presents an “incredibly nuanced portrait of where Judaism is right now.”

You can listen to the segment here.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.