Talking About Jewish Wealth With Danielle Durchslag

Judaism Unbound


Durch schlock welcome to judaism unbounded so great to have you thank you so much. I'm glad to be here. I remember. I think i was on a car ride with my family when your article came out about a year ago and somehow i remember sitting in the car and it popping up and saying oh this is going to be interesting and i read your article tablet and i was like. We're going to have to have you on the podcast because this is the conversation that that we want to have. And i mean there was a particular line where you say. The time demands that we as jews train our frank gays on our own discourse about ourselves and money and i was like yeah. Let's do that can create start by just asking a little bit about when you wrote that article. What what was it that you were trying to say. And what was it that you are trying to achieve. So i wrote the jewish one percent in part because the silence around jewish wealth is well earned an understandable but i think actually quite problematic obviously antisemitic conspiracy theories obsessively focus on kind of outlandish amounts of jewish affluence and influence. That's really the main trope of those hateful conspiracy theories and as a result you know our fear of even touching the subject is so seismic. Because we're really concerned that we will somehow validate those hateful fantasies that we just don't go there and to not go there on a subject as important has jews and money jews and capitalism And how those things intersect with. The state is really a loss especially for a community that is so dedicated to questioning too tough discourse and culturally and this is something i reference in the peace. Tim bluntness you know. One of the things. I love about us. Culturally is that we're willing to go there even when the subject is hard or tough or scary to give you a sense of how tender this area is just the title of the essay jewish one percent. Got me push back. I was told by some you know. Obviously there's a big generational gap here. This tends to be older audiences. Where i get this kind of feedback. That title itself is anti-semitic just acknowledging. The jewish wealth exists is problematic. I i have felt all of this for years. Why did i want to write this article now. In this era a cousin. Jews are disproportionately present in this administration in running the country. You know in the white house and the jews who are there tend to be from quote unquote very successful families. Right which is the language is in our community to mean rich there from wealthy jewish families most of them so i thought it was a really important moment to talk about. What has success wrought you know. Is this what success fundamentally should and does look like in our community for those who made it this time for me to have that conversation so i'm curious from your own experience before we get into what you have to say about it. I'm curious about when you try to provoke that conversation through this article. Was it provoked like. Did you feel that people started to have the conversation that you wanted them to have or do you feel like that conversation is still not being had. I think it's mostly not being. Had you know i did get surprisingly kind of enthused response from people. Sort of i'm. I'm turning forty this winter people sort of my age and younger. I got a lot of feedback. That was great. Want to have this conversation. It has felt off limits for so long. It shouldn't be. I got some pushback from older generations. But fundamentally i think the the bring up the essay is still are not really being dealt into in a public way. We are so trepidation about touching these topics which is partly why as visual artists. They're really where i make. My space might really write creatively. Go because there's so much to say. And it's so vitally important and it's really there's a couple things that arise from me in a title like the jewish one percent one is it only makes sense to people that title only works to people at and communicate something because we have a concept of the one percent generally in society. That's not jewish specific. And so i'm actually thinking a lot about the ways in which the generational divide you describe is sort of specific to judaism like we could talk about trauma and fear connected to the holocaust. There's all sorts of ways that like older generations of jews absolutely has some distinctive relationships to wealth that that are important to talk about. And i think that there's a broader conversation beyond just jus about how different generations do and don't talk about wealth like honestly. I think my parents and especially like my grandparents forgetting the jewish friends there non-jewish in general. It was kind of off the table to talk about wealth. I think what you hint at with people under forty or wherever. We're gonna draw the line. Like i think i don't know the millennial generation in quotes part of it. Whatever but like. I think we have recognized that the lack of talking about money isn't just some like benign choice. It has an impact when employers for example. Don't want people talking about the amount of money. They make that actually serves a purpose and leads to the employers being able to have a lot of control and and serve injustice in a variety of ways. And so i'd love to ask sort of about those two pieces like what about. This is a very specific set of jewish questions like the jewish relationship to wealth. And what about. This is actually a broader set of faux pas taboos that we have as a society about talking about money. It's a great couple of points i would say. All americans struggle with open discourse about class. Right it's not what we're famous for is talking successfully and in a nuanced fashion about money so clearly. Jewish americans were part of that culture. There's a lot of fear general around kind of going there. I wanted inactivity In a sort of arts group. That i was part of where we had to line up physically by class. So they said you know the poorest of the poor this side of the room the wealthiest of the wealthy opposite room. Everyone else figure it out and can you guess what everyone did probably went to the middle to start exactly right so i march off to wealth to people who were really strongly identified with and proud of having come from poverty. Go to the other side of the room and everyone else and this was probably a room full of like thirty forty people. They crowd in the middle and they are fighting it out over. How many. Tv's what kinds of tv's one car to kars any cars right. And so those of us on the extreme ends are watching. This really pained discourse as people try to place themselves and it takes a long time after we complete the exercise the people who lead it said to us in the uk. This takes ten minutes. Everyone knows where they are in the class. You talked about it. Their whole lives they line up and then we move on. That's a portrait. I think about a lot in terms of general. What your class discourse in this country

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