Reposted with thanks to the Jewish Review of Books.

Last week in the Jewish Review of Books, Elli Fischer responded to the novelist Michael Chabon’s controversial commencement address to the graduates of my institution, the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). In his insightful analysis, Fischer focuses on Chabon’s ultimate rejection of borders and boundaries of any kind, and shows that a simple illogic pervades Chabon’s “paean to mongrels and hybrids.” Chabon, writes Fischer, “forgets that ‘mashups, pastiche and collage’ require difference.” I would add that the converse also holds. Differences bear meaning only in their encounter at boundaries, which are both tested and reaffirmed precisely when they are crossed.

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Get To Know The Author

Joshua Holo is dean of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles, and associate professor of Jewish history. He is the author of Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy (Cambridge University Press) and has taught for the Wexner Foundation.