Page 37 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 41

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ISCH/JEWISH FAMILY CRISIS
31
nslave him spiritually. He reacts by runn ing away into the world
f the “shikses.” T hu s we are talking about a biological rebellion,
ne directed against the home itself and the continuity o f Jewish
ife tha t it implies.
T h e reference here is not to a strictly literary phenom enon but
o a social crisis as well. We witness a th rea t to the very found a­
ions o f the Jewish family, especially in the Diaspora o f the West,
hich has resulted in the alienation and loneliness o f the child
ho no longer finds spiritual suppo rt in the family (Compare
avid Riesman
, The Lonely Crowd,
1969 ed., p. 52). T he symptoms
f this crisis are often found in d rug addiction, sexual anarchy
nd the throwing o ff o f the burdens o f society, its rules and insti­
utions (See David Gutmann, “Men, Women and the Parental
mperative,”
Commentary,
Dec. 1973, p. 64). This danger is partic­
larly great for the Jewish family, seeing tha t the Jews tend to be
iddle-class and concentrated in the larger cities, belonging to
hat segment o f the population which is most exposed to these
orces.
We have now reached a point o f radical crisis within the
nuclear family” bu t whose consequences are even more far-
eaching. As suggested above we are not talking about a rebellion
gainst the fa ther alone but against “ou r heavenly Father,” not
gainst the mo ther as such but against biological continuity, or in
the r words, against the very continued existence o f the Jewish
eople. This is the biological regression taking place at the
oment within large segments o f the Jewish People in the Dias­
ora. Once more we must point out the element o f distortion
resent. It may be doubted whether the “yiddishe mama,” as she
merges in modern literature, is really a Jewish mother! In the
iblical stories, the maternal models which figure most prom i­
ently are those who send the ir beloved sons away. The first feast
entioned in the Bible is held by Abraham “on the day tha t Isaac
as weaned
” (Genesis 21:8). The victims o f the “yiddishe mama” in
odern literature do not seem to enjoy such a “weaning.” Later
ebecca sends Jacob away, Jochebed brings Moses to Pharaoh ’s
augh ter, H annah places Samuel in the sanctuary to serve Eli the
riest. This phenom enon is also a part o f Jewish sociology in
odern times. Any family o f Eastern European extraction can
estify to examples o f the Jewish mo ther who sends her child far
way, at a young age, in o rd e r that he should study Judaism o r a
rofession. T he Jewish mother, unstinting though she was in her