Real Jewsrnby Gerald RussellornConservative, American & Jewish: IrnWouldn’t Have It Any Other Wayrnby Jacob NeusnerrnLafayette, Louisiana: HuntingtonrnHouse; 232 pp., $9.99rnA Jewish Conservative Looksrnat Pagan Americarnby Don FederrnLafayette, Louisiana: HuntingtonrnHouse; 238 pp., $9.99rnI Shot an Elephant in My Pajamas:rnThe Morrie Ryskind Storyrnby Morrie Ryskind, with John H. RobertsrnLafayette, Louisiana: HuntingtonrnHouse; 238 pp., $12.99rnExploration of the relationship betweenrnJews and America is far fromrncomplete, at least among Jewish conservatives,rnwho do not rely on their religiousrntraditions as explicitly as do somernamong the Christian right. There hasrnbeen some speculation in Jewish circlesrnthat the reason Jews in America havernprospered is because both Judaism andrnthe United States are founded uponrnideas: Judaism, this theory contends, isrnbased on monotheism as America isrnbased on freedom. Though perhapsrntrue, this contention is only a partial explanationrnof either Judaism or America.rnOf all the major world religions, fewrncould be said to be more rooted in historyrnand memory than Judaism. Thernhistory of the Jews is, after all, a history ofrnthe relationship of a people with its Godrnand of the conviction that God has preparedrna place for His chosen people. Tornreduce the ritual order and historicalrnconsciousness of the Jewish religion to arnbland devotion is a disservice, and tornminimize the importance of America’srnconcrete history in the development ofrnits political institutions, which grew outrnof a definite Common Law tradition, isrnlikewise a distortion of the record. Suchrnan understanding of Judaism and Americarnopens the way for ideology; a zealousrnattachment to abstract principles leadsrnone to occlude the historical perspective.rnJacob Neusner’s book is a collection ofrnpreviously published articles that discussesrnthe usual topics of conservative interest:rneducation, culture, the role of religionrnin American life, etc. Neusner isrnconscious of the allure of ideology tornthose who ignore the teachings of theirrnfaith; in Conservative, American & Jewish,rnhe reflects on the lack of religiosityrnamong Jewish neoconservatives andrnfaults other Jewish conservatives (especiallyrnthose connected with the journalrnCommentary) for treating religion instrumentally,rnconcluding that for thisrnLIBERAL ARTSrnXrnWVn’RSFOKISrnMnu- t}i.4[i:i(l[u’.’i;M>i:i iiti’iii.iiiNulii’ii llii. f:i–:! !’•( I: i:., p’Vil ,ii MilwiiiltecloI’vfut’a>’rnA”uniin-i IMMII^’J .ii’.iirt,itiiiirjcdth’-CJiKat; • /’-.”•LIII;’JNI >UIIIiiM-rnr WI.IIL tht Mi.’urc-ictiiii WMsfini- iZl-ycw-Mnisii liit-giijnl :..’.iUn-ii’l mt-d-rnII .il :i[h iiti’iii >i)i ,1 liri:i>i’d | iv. ()p.’ lii’i ^u.l^l nliri !• b1:ii I. MKI llu .ili r k- in i h.r:rniitrn rjiii.iiK iiiotu.iU-t’l I ‘ic ^•nitli'<. ,iU bbck, “Nt.irli’il fn’liiit- ill die ulnl. lit- -rnen4rds.”hi”jid.rnreason their conservatism remains unfulfilled.rnFeder sounds a similar note in his newrncollection of columns, concentrating notrnso much on the neoconservatives as onrnthe Jewish liberals who have forfeitedrntrue faith for the lures of false gods. ForrnJews, following the Zeitgeist should notrnbe a sign of piety; rather their witness isrnmeant to be countercultural, giving evidencernof a higher order. In a meditationrnon the meaning of Yom Kippur to Jewsrnliving in a secular culture, Feder speaks ofrnthe concern Judaism has for both thernindividual and the community. Individualsrnare responsible for their own actions,rnsurely; yet the larger culture needs reformationrnas well, for although it is arncomposite of the discrete actions of itsrnmembers, it has an existence apart fromrnthem. To preserve a culture from death,rnconversion of both the individual andrnthe nation is required.rnWhile convinced of the generallyrnbeneficial effects of a free market andrndemocracy, Feder does not base a conservativernphilosophy on these phenomena,rnwhich in the long history of humanityrnare ephemeral. Instead, he proposesrna conservatism that is “God-centered,rnpremised on a passion to nurture thernbest in human nature, which flows fromrnour acceptance of divine injunctions. Itrnis based on the ethical woridview of thernpatriarchs and prophets, grounded in thernheritage of a people who first taughtrnhumanity to think in moral terms.” Thisrnis an authentic conservatism, confrontingrnthe status quo and all the sins tornwhich humanity is heir while holding uprnto it the ethical standards that arise fromrna concrete tradition. These standardsrnare society’s proper measure. WhilernFeder sometimes descends into the ranksrnof the “statistic conservatives,” who arerncontent to lament our decline by quotingrnthe latest figures of abortions andrnbroken families, his view of reality isrngrounded in sound premises regardingrnhuman nature and the source of its fulfillment.rnMorrie Ryskind’s autobiography is byrncontrast an entertaining romp throughrnthe Broadway and Hollywood of thern1930’s and 1940’s, where everyonernseemed to know everyone else and anticommunismrnwas the only criterion forrnconservative status. Although raised in arnJewish home where he learned Yiddish asrna first language and was given a classicalrneducation (he gave his high school commencementrnaddress in Greek), Ryskindrn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn