A Project of Boston College Magazine

Author Meets Critics: At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews

Live broadcast November 12, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

Many Jewish thinkers have considered it close to heresy to validate life in the Diaspora. But what if the Diaspora is a blessing in disguise? In At Home in Exile, Alan Wolfe, writing for the first time about his Jewish heritage, makes an impassioned, eloquent and controversial argument that Jews should take pride in their Diasporic tradition. It is true that Jews have experienced more than their fair share of discrimination and destruction in exile, and there can be no doubt that anti-Semitism persists throughout the world. Yet for the first time in history, Wolfe shows, it is possible for Jews to lead vibrant, successful and, above all else, secure lives in states in which they are a minority. Wolfe argues the Diaspora can be good for the Jews no matter where they live, Israel very much included-as well as for the non-Jews with whom they live, Israel once again included. Not only can the Diaspora offer Jews the opportunity to reach a deep appreciation of pluralism and a commitment to fighting prejudice, but in an era of rising inequalities and global instability, the whole world can benefit from Jews' passion for justice and human dignity. At Home in Exile is an inspiring call for a Judaism that isn't defensive and insecure but is instead open and inquiring. At this event, Wolfe will be joined by a distinguished panel of scholars who will review and critique this work.

Alan Wolfe is the founding director of the Boisi Center and professor of political science at Boston College.

Ben Birnbaum is special assistant to the president of Boston College, executive director of its Office of Marketing Communications, and editor of Boston College Magazine.

Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College.

Kevin Kenny is professor and chair of the History Department at Boston College, where he teaches courses on American immigration and global migration.

Format: Panel

Presenter(s): Wolfe, Ben Birnbaum (BC), Kevin Kenny (BC), and Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth), moderated by Erik Owens

Sponsored by: Boisi Center

Date: November 12, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

Location: McGuinn 101