3. Our Story, Our Selves Part Three

1.11 For too many Jews today Torah is a fetish be to worshipped, but for the ancients it was a Rorschach blot to be turned and turned and turned again until the imagination was on fire with new wisdom and possibilities for God and godliness.

1.12 This wild and deliberate misreading of our texts—Torah, Talmud, Siddur, Zohar, and others—is what it is to be a Jew. We are the People of a Book that disappears and reappears new with each reading.

1.13 If we are taught well, and we rarely are, we are taught how to creatively misread our texts, and in so doing to question, doubt, and argue with readings that came before.

1.14 To be a Jew is to be challenged to find new ways to read our story, new understandings of it, new insights into how to live it, and in this way we move toward the end by ever reimagining beginnings and middles. In this way we keep our story and ourselves alive and relevant and challenging generation to generation.

1.15 Today we are dying, and have been for a long time. Our enemies kill us, often millions of us, but never all of us. Only we can do that, and we are. We are killing ourselves by failing to teach our children how to misread our texts and retell our stories fresh. We are no longer raising generations of Jewish storytellers or tellers of Jewish stories.

1.16 We have become simulacra, replicas of a past that was itself a fiction. We are an echo of a voice long dead.

1.17 Our major task today isn’t to fight Jew hatred and assimilation, both of which have been with us for thousands of years. Our major task is to learn how to read dangerously, imagine boldly, and hear for the first time—for our time—the story we have been telling for a long time.


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