Maybe it is just me. I am fascinated by the entry of what once was isolated Jewish culture into the mainstream of American life. One of the great things about our society is that minorities can bring their culture into the majority culture as they assimilate (or a better word is integrate) into it. How long the Jewish community will be able to do so is a question that will have to be answered by future historians of this period of Jewish history. It is certainly clear that those who make up the so-called generation Y (sometimes called the millenials) are as comfortable in secular culture as they are in Jewish culture—perhaps even more so. That is what is so interesting about the course at Fairleigh-Dickinson University in the music of Matisyahu. While the beat is reggae, the lyrics are certainly religious.
This may not be a course for Jewish Studies majors, but it certainly will attract those on the periphery as well as those from outside of the Jewish community who are simply interested in what Matisyahu has to say and sing. Our own research confirms that many Jews on the periphery, particularly those coming from interfaith families, may not major in Jewish Studies on campus, but they will certainly be found among the enrollees of broad-based introductory courses in Jewish history and religion. When the questions are asked by campus professionals and the like, “Where are these students? And how do we find them?”, perhaps this is one place to start looking.
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