Judaica Lisa Schiffman Generation J

ISBN 13: 9780062515773

Generation J

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9780062515773: Generation J

"I'm not alone. I am part of a generation of fragmented Jews. We're in a kind of limbo. We're suspended between young adulthood and middle age, between Judaism and atheism, between a desire to believe in religion and a personal history of skepticism. Call us a bunch of searchers. Call us post-Holocaust Jews. Call us Generation J."

Generation J is the ambivalent generation: unaffiliated seekers, men and women who have grown up questioning the bounds of organized religion. Lisa Schiffman is one of these seekers, and Generation J chronicles her journey through the contradictory landscape of Jewish identity. Moving from the personal to the universal, from autobiography to anthropology, from laughter to tears, Schiffman shows us the many ways in which one can be religious.

Whether dipping into a ritual bath, getting henna-tattooed with the Star of David, unravelling the mysteries of the kabbalah, or confronting what Jewish tradition has to say about gay marriage, Schiffman reveals the conflicts of meaning and connection common to all who try to chart their own spiritual path. And, through it all, with humor and sensitivity, she confronts the reasons for her own quest and begins to untangle some of the thorniest questions about identity, community, and religion in America today.

This engaging exploration of what it means to be Jewish is every bit as much a fascinating tour of the varieties of contemporary Jewish practice as it is an unusual personal quest. Smart, funny, and provocative, Schiffman brilliantly explores the problems and possibilities facing any spiritual seeker today.

 

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Review:

Generation J is a beautifully written, constantly courageous, hip, wise memoir by a young woman determined to figure out what it means to be Jewish. Lisa Schiffman, who grew up in the mostly Christian community of Levittown, New Jersey, writes of her own alienated adolescence: "We were a generation of Jews who'd grown up on television, with Barbie, with rhinoplasty as a way of life. Assimilation wasn't something we strove for; it was the condition into which we were born." Feeling unmoored in early adulthood, Schiffman begins a search for the essence of the Jewish identity she feels exiled from. She undertakes experiments such as eating nonkosher food every day for a week, and gently confronting her parents' ignorance of their own religion. Oddly, her greatest religious epiphany comes from the experience of getting a henna tattoo--a vine across her torso, with the Star of David at the end. The tattoo sets off what she calls, elsewhere in the book, "a big think-through": "There is the vine. There is me. There's Judaism, the religion of paradox and reconciliation. I'll learn from it what I can. I'll sort out my own conflicted truths. I refuse to reject myself--any part. I no longer choose to exile." --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Lisa Schiffman earned a master's degree in social anthropology from Oxford University. She was formerly the associate editor of the San Francisco Review of Books and has published her prose in Zyzzyva, where it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She works now as an Internet strategist on the Web sites of major corporations.

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