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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

The Blessings of Exile: Why Minority Status is Good for the Jews--and Everyone Else

boisi center for religion and american public life

Marc Chagall's Fiddler

Alan Wolfe
Boston College

Date: Tuesday, September 24
Time: 12:00-1:15pm
Location: Boston College, Boisi Center


Abstract: As the scholar Jacob Neusner has remarked, the Holocaust followed by Israel’s creation constituted a kind of civil religion for Jews, reminding them of their eternal vulnerability while offering salvation in the form of statehood. Memories inevitably change, however, and as the impact of these two titanic events fade, an increasing number of the next generation of Jews are starting to reject the particularism associated with both events in favor of a rebirth of the universalism that once characterized life in the Diaspora. Professor Wolfe argues this is a positive moment, for both Jews and the non-Jews with whom they live.


Alan Wolfe is the founding director of the Boisi Center and Professor of Political Science at Boston College. He is the author and editor of more than twenty books, including, most recently, Political Evil: What It Is and How to Combat It (2011), The Future of Liberalism (2009), Does American Democracy Still Work? (2006), Return to Greatness (2005), The Transformation of American Religion: How We actually Practice our Faith (2003), Moral Freedom (2001) and One Nation After All (1999). Widely considered one of the nation's most prominent public intellectuals, he is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Atlantic, and has delivered lectures across the United States and Europe. He is currently at work on his latest book, At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews.

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In the News

On October 1, 2013, the Pew Research Center released A Portrait of Jewish Americans. The survey reports that Jewish identity is changing in America, and touches on such issues as Jewish affiliation, intermarriage, and child rearing. On September 24, Boisi Center director and Political Science professor Alan Wolfe spoke about his current book project on Jews in America and the blessings of exile.