Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review of The Story of the Jews

ALYSSA ROSENBERG: How Simon Schama wants us to think about Jewish history, and a Jewish future (WaPo). Excerpt:
If only disrupting the established narratives about Jewish identity and politics was as simple as presenting the evidence and getting a community that understands argumentativeness to be a core part of its identity to agree. Schama’s project in the five episodes of “The Story of the Jews” and two accompanying books is about history, of course. But as Schama and I discussed in two conversations, the first in January and the second earlier this week, Schama hopes to mine that history not just for under-discussed facts, but to advocate for a different framework for public discussions of Jewish identity and politics. In focusing on entries in that history that emphasize the integration of Jews in communities of other believers, and on cultural and artistic cross-pollination, Schama pushes not just for new answers to political questions, but urges us to consider whether cultural conversations might get us closer to the core of Jewish identity than political contests.
Earlier reviews etc. here and links.