Jewish Privilege

February 28, 2012 | By

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Hailey is a recent college graduate, freshly relocated into her mother and stepfather’s luxury penthouse in Manhattan. Unemployed, she’s both the wealthiest and poorest 1% of the country…and she’s caught in both the economic crisis and a crisis of identity.

Her story, told in Michelle Haimoff‘s new novel These Days Are Ours, takes place during Passover 2002. It’s six months after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Since graduation, Hailey’s been hanging out with her over-privileged friends, going on a series of dead-end job interviews, and being terrified by the omnipresent warnings of another terrorist attack.

She goes seder-hopping with her parents through some of Manhattan’s wealthiest households. Upon being greeted at a seder by a waiter holding trays of mini-pizzas, she remarks how un-Passover-like it is—and realizes immediately that the non-Jewish waitstaff couldn’t care less. Neither, she soon learns, do the Jewish hosts.

In other hands, Hailey’s story could be either horribly depressing or dismally cynical. The truth is, These Days is funny and insightful, filled with deft wordplay and did-she-mean-to-say-that moments. Hailey’s not enough of a rebel to scorn her one-percenter society. But, when she meets a young man at one seder who comes from an entirely different background–and who’s as quick-witted and as disenchanted as she is–she begins to see the world outside Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and to find reasons to hope New York doesn’t get blown up by the terrorists.

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