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The away before the game haseven started.

Most born-again
gospel albums deal with similar themesand images.
Rootless For example,Charlie Daniels'recentexcellentgospel

Gosmopolitan album has plenty of songs about paying off your sin
account at the heavenly store, finding a rock, being
saved,etc. He throws lots of Old Testamentquotes in
Roxnr.KlrnrssrHthere, no question.But there's never any doubt that
CharlieDanielswas a Christianbeforehe was a Chris-
lf Loving
JewslsWrong, tian, and that he'll still be a Christianeven if he falls
I Don'tWantToBeRight off the wagon and starts sinning again. But open the
liner notes for Savedand vou find exactlv one biblical
wasn't the only Jewishgirl who sangin my high quote, from Jeremiah:
school gospel choir. I was the only one who
Behold, thedayscome,saiththe Lord
couldn'tactuallysing.The otherJewishgirl could
ThatI will makea newcovenant
sing,but didn't feel comfortablesaying"Jesus."Sowhile
W i t ht h eh o u s eo f l s r a e a
l , n dw i t ht h eh o u s eo f J u d a h
Beth mouthed half the words to the songs,I stood next
to the girl with the biggest voice and hoped that the Well, ifyou're starting offyour careeras a Christian
choirmasterwouldn't notice that I couldn't clap and by emphasizingyour Jewishness, odds are you're not
sway at the sametime. gonna be Christian for too long.
Ijoined gospelchoir rvith a genuinepassionfor the
music. It's no surpriseto me that other Jews love gospel Dylan's well-known sojourn as a Christiun is part of
music,especiallymy kind ofJews, the onescut off from a long history of famous Jewish converts. Some con-
their native sourcesof soul. I mean,they don't know vertedout of conviction,someout of convenience,some
any better. I certainly didn't know any better when I out of a failure to find an acceptableJewish identity.
joined the gospel choir. Happily, three months later, I For Heinrich Heine, the German poet and philosopher
heard my first Klezmatics album, (1797-1856),itwas amixture of the three.
Heine, like Dylan, grew up fairly alienatedfrom
I know a lot more sbout Jewish soul music loday. I curt any4hingresemblinga soulful Jewishidentity.To Heine,
even name Jewish bands that are not the Kleznratics. Jewishnesswas inseparablefrom vulgar capitalism.He
It's been a long time since I tried to sway and clap as wanted nothing to do with a people so obsessedwith
an expressionof religiousecstasy.Still, I couldn't help money.(Of course,he would be forever bitter at being
myselfthe other day from buying a copy of Bob Dylan's forgottenin the will of his rich uncle Solomon.)Before
Christian album, Saved.My mom had just come out converting,however,Heine searchedfor a Jewishness
of surgery and I was standing in Borders looking for a not entangledin commerce.While he had sympathyfor
presentfor her. I should have been in the little hospital the authenticity he saw in Eastem EuropeanJews, he
chapelbentshinggoymel,or whateveryou're supposed never consideredgoing native. Instead,he briefly ex-
to say when someoneactuallylistenswhen you tell them pressedhis Jewishnessthrough academicengagement,
not to "go into the light." Alas, I'm not the kind of Jew, as a founder of lhe Vereinfur Cultur and Wissenschaft
and I don't know how to pray so well. But I do know desJudenthuns (Society for JewishCulture and Schol-
how to shop. (Long lsland minkhag.) arship). Heine, Eduard Gans, Leopold Zunz and their
ThereI was in Borders,not finding my mom a present colleaguessought to rationalize and sanitize Judaism
that says"I'm glad you're alive." What I did seewas to make it safe for general consumption. This would
Saved,Dylan's 1980 gospelalbum, for the nice price then make them safe for public consumption. They
of $9.ee.I know a bargainwhen I seeone, and I don't were wrong, of course, and not long after its found-
think salvation comes any cheaperthan that. ing, the movement saw many of its founding members
Saved is hardly the best gospel recording I've ever (including Eduard Gans)acceptingten ducatsfrom the
heard. lt's not even the best white gospel I've ever Prussian government as their baptismal gifts. Heine
heard.But I haveto admit that I'm loving Christian Bob himselfwrote in 1825 tothe Vereinjournal'seditor that
Dylan. What I love the most is how he gives himself "kugel, this holy national dish, has done more for the

SEPTEMBER-OCToBER,
2OO6 45
preservationof Judaism than all three issuesof your to make our Jewishnessa priority? I pointed out that
magazine.And it has found a lot more takers." sometimes when I tell my Jewish friends that it's
really important to me that I marry a Jewish person,
So whut do Heine and Dylan have in common besides I'm deridedas beingtribalistor racist.At which point,
their bond as ambivalent poet meshumdim(converts)? someonein the back yelled out, "You are!"
They both felt estrangednot just from the Jewish reli-
gion, but Jewish culture as filtered back to them in the Indeed. Do you think thot guy would dare tell a Mus-
mainstreamG erman/Americanimagination. lim woman she was racist for wanting to marry another
More importantly,both Heine and Dylan were prod- Muslim? Unlike in Heine's day, Jews can be anything
ucts of cultures whose enlightened welcome to Jews they want except too Jewish.And if you step
only extendedso far. During the Europeanenlighten- out of line, rest assuredit will be other Jews shutting
ment, when Heine was searching for his acceptable you up more vigorously than anyone else.
Jewish identity, it wasn't just Christianswho called the At Bluestockings,I saw Jews of all stripes liter-
shots on Jewish emancipation.It was during Heine's ally trembling with frustration, including a National
lifetime that a Jew createdthe idea of Reform Judaism, Lawyer's Guild member. Why, she wanted to know, is
that is, Judaismas mere religion, not all-encompassing the Guild obsessedwith Israel-Palestine,to the exclu-
culture. Jews in Germany shavedtheir beards,tradedin sion of almost any other intemational issue?The NLG
their straymls for top hats and became Germans of the recently sent out a pressreleaseabout its participation
Mosaic faith. In Dylan's day, too, Jews were trading in in an upcomingANSWER-sponsored anti-war rally. Out
their accents,language,names,and needfor eachother, of 500 words aboutthe Lebanon-Israelwar (which they
in order to becomereal Americans. Jews in Enlighten- characterizeas the US-Israeli war againstLebanonand
ment Germany,as in 20'h-century America, willingly Palestine),not once is the word Hezbollah mentioned.
participated in their own invisibility in return for the This from an organizationwhose founders,leaders,and
privilegesof assimilation.As we all knoW that privilege membersinclude innumerableJews.
comes with a heavy price. When you stop believing in Let's facethe truth: Part ofthe reasonwe've managed
your own right to be who you are, you start participating to come so far as Jews is becausewe've internalized
in your own oppression.And I do mean oppression. the world's demandthat we becomemore like everyone
else. Well, we've lost much of ourselves,and we're
Tlrat's u heavy word, I know. And it was a hot topic a still not like everyone else! We're still obsessedwith
couple of weeks ago at the "Fighting Anti-Semitism money, still too tribal (even as Jewish intermarriage
on the Left" panel I attendedat the Bluestockings rates skyrocket) and still responsible for any war worth
book store. Jews and non-Jews packed the store on a talking about(accordingtoANSWER and Mel Gibson).
swelteringnight to talk about somethingthat was in the For each of thesepathetic anti-Semitic canards,I don't
air long before the current war in Lebanon. How were have to go too far to find a Jew heartily agreeing. Self-
we, as conscientious,progressivepeople, supposedto hatred is an ugly thing, as Weimar era writer Theodor
confront the anti-Jewishsentimentthat has becomeso Lessing (1872-1933) knew There is no happy escape
prominent on the left, especiallysincethe beginning of from Jewishness,no escapein conversion,nor in self-
the war in Iraq? Is it okay to stop in the middle of some abnegation."Who are you?" Lessing wrote.
organized event and confront anti-Jewish remarks ifthe
Theson of the slovenly JewishpeddlerNathan. . . and
event has absolutelynothing to do with Jews or Israel?
of lazySarahwhomhe accidentally sleptwith because
Is an atmospherewhere anti-Semitism is tolerated re- s h eb r o u g het n o u g hm o n e yi n t ot h e m a r r i a g eN?o ,J u -
ally oppressive? dahMaccabee wasyourfatherandQueen Esther your
My question was: Are you fucking kidding me? | mother. Fromyou,andyoualone, thechain goesback
wanted to jump up and shout to the room: Yidn, show - viadefective linksto besure- to SaulandDavid
some self-respect, and Ihen we can talk about effec- andMoses. Theyarepresent in everyoneof you.They
tive action! What I really said, though, was that Jews have been there all the time and tomorrow theirsoirit
couldberevived.
have, uniquely, been willing to become invisible, and
now, if we really want to move forward in terms of And what will it taketo revivethe spirit of thoseof
fighting anti-Semitism,we have to be willing to stand us on the left, now when our uniqueJewishhistory,and
up and demand respectas Jews. Why are we ashamed conscience,is neededthe most? I
46 JEWISH
CunnaNrs