A Moment in Time: “In 2024, What Will it Mean to be a Jew?”

December 28, 2023

Dear all,

I was thinking back to our Temple Akiba trip to Israel last summer. As I look at this whimsical photo we took at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, I realize that the Jewish family of 2023 is certainly different than the Jewish family of 1948 (when Modern Israel was established). And while those 75 years have witnessed incredible changes, there are still religious, cultural, and familial values that continue to embrace us.

What will it mean to be a Jew in 2024?

What will in mean in the face of a complicated world?

How will we cultivate our garden of opportunity?

I want to pose seven questions that the Reform Movement of Judaism has historically suggested we ask all who are seeking to become Jews through conversion. I believe it’s important that Jews by birth take these questions to heart as well:

  1. Do you choose to enter the eternal covenant between God and the people Israel and to become a Jew of your own free will?
  2. Do you commit yourself to the pursuit of Torah and Jewish knowledge?
  3. Do you promise to establish a Jewish home, and to participate actively in the life of the synagogue and of the Jewish community?
  4. If you should be blessed with (more} children, do you promise to raise them as Jews?
  5. Do you commit to building a meaningful relationship with the State of Israel and its people?
  6. Do you accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and practices?
  7. Do you pledge your loyalty to Judaism and to the Jewish people under all circumstances?

What questions might you add?

What questions might your change?

What questions might you omit?

What questions might uplift you?

What questions might disturb you?

To be a Jew in 2024 will have new demands on our resilience, our commitments, and our engagement. To be a Jew in 2024 will open doors to conversations we never before imagined and to opportunities we never before considered.

To be a Jew in 2024 will allow ancient wisdom to weave into contemporary resolve.

To be a Jew in 2024 will demand that we take a stand.

Yes, Judaism has changed (and that’s a good thing). But Judaism also honors a long and proud history. And so, this is our moment in time to live with hope, determination, and unwavering spirit.

Ron, Eli, Maya, and I all wish you a happy and healthy 2024!

With love and shalom,

Rabbi Zach Shapiro

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