Monday, September 28, 2009

America's Disappearing Jews

Jack Wertheimer, a professor of American Jewish history at JTS, tells that unfortunately the pessimists in the discussion about assimilation and the dwindling of America's Jews are mostly right.
This hesitance to grapple seriously with the issue of intermarriage is part
of a broader phenomenon: Speaking of threats to Jewish survival has become
passé. Many argue that such discussions no longer serve to rally Jews; if
anything, they turn people off. Moreover, advocates of this point of view tend
to argue that if Jews are disengaged, it is because of failings in our
institutions. If only we had more compelling programs and wiser leaders, if only
we would cater more to the desires and preferences of younger generations, we
would retain larger numbers of Jews, they say.
At the risk of sounding trite and simplistic, raising committed Jews isn't that mysterious, and has very little to do with programs and wise leaders. The best place to create committed Jews is in the homes of committed Jewish parents. True, committed Jewish parents do tend to create committed Jewish communities with programs and leaders and what have you, but those are all spinoffs. If you've got the committed parents, everything else will work out. If you don't, it probably won't.

No comments: