ED: The following is a excerpt from the story, “Rabbis Share Sneak Previews of Holy Days Messages” which ran in our Rosh Hashanah Sept. 7 issue.
Rabbi Richard Camras
Shomrei Torah, West Hills
In ancient times the shofar was sounded as a call to awaken the community to a danger that lay ahead. Danger lies ahead. Many have recently sounded the shofar to the challenges that our American Diaspora community faces: shrinking demographics, less educated laity, indifference to the vision and mission of the Jewish people. With 50 percent of the Jews living in Israel, where Judaism is a natural part of everyday existence, and 50 percent living outside Israel, where Judaism is irrelevant to a greater majority than not, we may be witnessing the fulfillment of what historian Arthur Hertzberg forecast decades ago when he said the momentum of the Jewish experience in America is essentially spent.
Jerusalem Post Senior Columnist Amotz Asa-El employs the term “solid Jews,” whose Jewishness is obvious to them and active in both substance and form, and “liquid Jews,” whose Jewishness is more about identity and not practice or belief. He describes how Israelis are naturally solid Jews because they speak, read and write Hebrew, serve in the Israel Defense Forces and live by the Jewish calendar, whereas American Jews are solid only when they can provide the context, being active in the Jewish community, ensuring a strong Jewish education for themselves and their children, donating to Jewish causes and living the Jewish calendar.
How can we create an environment that instills a deeper sense of purpose and mission so that Diaspora Jews will more grow solid in their Jewish identity and practice?