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What is it about Jewish Identity?

My name is Evan Kleinman. I was recently introduced to this blog (and very happy to have been so). I have been especially drawn to the posts about Jewish identity. In fact, I am currently working on a documentary film that touches on this issue called “Punk Jews,” ( There are so many complexities that go along with how we feel about ourselves. What is it about Jewish identity that we can just talk about it endlessly without finding any answers or coming to any conclusions? I have tried to think of other cultures/religions/people……groups with a common identity….whatever you want to call it…. where the very definition of it constantly comes into question. I have not been able to think of one. I found Baruch Trotsky’s “The Big Ethnic Love-in” very fascinating and eye-opening. I had never before noticed or realized the vaguesness of the word “people hood,” a final attempt to band us together. If it is not through religion, culture, ethnicity, language, customs, affiliation……than what? It’s almost like the Jewish people are in a civil war with too many sides to count. Each faction claiming to the outside world when putting down their counterparts with whom they don’t see eye to eye “not all Jews are like that.” It seems as though we are still the same disjointed tribal society that Judaism evolved from. On the other hand, there is something to be said regarding the notion of peoplehood. Just because a word doesn’t exist in the English dictionary doesn’t mean it has no meaning or shouldn’t be used. Words are typically created out of necessity. Somehow we are connected by something other than thousand year old bible stories. Otherwise, why would we care about Jewish identity or “peoplehood” or any desire for psychological closure on who we really are because we would just be. So my question is not what is Jewish identity but rather why do we feel the need to discuss our Jewish identity and where does that need stem from? I am really curious to know people’s thoughts from this blog.

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5 thoughts on “What is it about Jewish Identity?”

  1. Maybe it is because you have been defined from the outside for so long. You wonder – what is it about “us”? The answer is that, even though you know you are diverse, you, as the eternal minority, are not “them”.

    Non-conformists and free-spirits everywhere are naturally drawn to those outside of the loop, those who question, rebel and innovate.

    To me, Jews are everyone but “the man”.

  2. Hi Evan

    Not sure if I’m taking your Punk Jews title too literally, but have you seen this
    “Three years in the making, this feature documentary follows the progression of the Muslim Punk scene: from its imaginary inception in a novel written by a white-convert named Michael Muhammad Knight to a full-blown, real-life scene of Muslim punk bands and their fans”

  3. Why the discussion goes on and on?

    (read at high pitch, east european accent and shoulders at ears):

    Because we like to talk…

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