Tuvia Tenenbom is one of a kind, as is this extraordinary book. Born in Israel and the son of an ultra-orthodox rabbi, Tenenbom rebelled. He left both Israel and religious orthodoxy, obtained advanced degrees in mathematics and literature, founded the Jewish Theater in New York—for which he has written sixteen plays—and became a columnist in German and English.
In his 1948 essay, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot argued that the highest levels of culture are only attainable by relatively small groups of people, and that in order for a civilization to sustain high culture a class system of some kind is necessary. Because culture is transmitted primarily through the family and religion—not schools—and because it relies to a large extent on these particular loyalties for its perpetuation, when these institutions fail, “we must expect our culture to deteriorate.”