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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 Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."
"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."
"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."