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“Jews have fared poorly both in societies committed to the leveling uniformity of the Left, or the anchored elitism of the Right. By contrast, they have thrived in the meritocracy of America’s open society. But these achievements and the accompanying social acceptance have come at a high cost to Jewish identity survival. The threat to Jewish continuity does not stem from outside violent antisemitism, such as occurred recently in the Pittsburgh terrorist attack, but from a spiraling assimilation from within.
Responding to America’s tolerant comfort zone, the American Jewish population is in a state of serious decline. Some 70% of Jews intermarry, many synagogues of the non-Orthodox variety are closing down or merging, as happened in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, the scene of the mass shooting. Having outlasted nations and civilizations such as Egypt, Babylon, Rome and Nazi Germany, which enslaved, oppressed and annihilated Jews, the lulling of 21st century American Jewry by secularism and relativism into a steady spiritual oblivion marks a staggering betrayal of those Jews who through the centuries knowingly perished in the name of the faith.
How to assure American Jewish identity? In a culture based on choice rather than coercion, for a demographically minority religion to survive, its adherents must see membership as requiring something more than half-hearted affiliation, or eating an occasional ethnic dish.
The first imperative is education – meaning, for the young, an arrangement for religious schooling. The more time spent in religious study, the more likely that this student’s exposure to texts and the Jewish story in history will lead to identity commitment as an adult. For the Jewish adult seeking more education, the Internet features hundreds of thousands of classes, lectures, interactive tutorials. Though the Torah can be taught in any language, Hebrew lends authenticity and historic depth.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."
"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."
"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."
"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."
"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."
"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."
"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."
"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."