The end of Judaism in America?

The story is told of two women from rabbinic families who came recently to Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Southfield, Michigan to discuss Jewish peoplehood.  They are tied together by the synagogue, an institute, and the Conservative movement.

Shaarey Zedek is a storied congregation.  When it was founded in 1861, most Jews in America had come from Germany, where Judaism was rapidly moving toward Reform.  As the nineteenth century unfolded, worshipers who favored a more traditional liturgy were breaking off to form what would come to be known as Conservative synagogues.  Not Orthodox, not Reformed — something in between.

Another of that type was Tree of Life in Pittsburgh.

Even though neither they nor their families accept it, both women are furthering the demise of Judaism in North America: in a 90-minute presentation, not a word was spoken about Judaism, the Jewish religion.  It was all about American Jewish culture and its differences from culture in Israel.

They are sticking knives into Jewish peoplehood in North America by representing a post-religious organization and by ignoring the true risks facing Jewish continuity.  They are encouraged in this by writers such as Batya Unger-Sargon of The Forward, who insists that we not let focus on Jewish continuity get in the way of our liberal values.

Caroline Glick wrote recently about American Jewry's coming day of reckoning.  They ignored it.

Baruch Pletner writes regularly at Tsionizm dot com on Judaism's American Challenge, but he too is ignored.

The Shalom Hartman Institute, for which the two women work, is headed by someone who recently published a book Putting God Second.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who heads the Union for Reform Judaism, is a senior rabbinic fellow at Hartman.  We may have thought Shaarey Zedek is Conservative, but Hartman is closely affiliated with the Reform movement.

The greatest risks to Jewish continuity in America are collapsing fertility, spiraling intermarriage, and diminishing literacy.  About these, the two presenters said nothing. 

Instead, they centered on the differences between American Jewish peoplehood and the Israeli version, suggesting that Jewish students in America need the ability to feel safe when discussing Israel.

I was at a Tree of Life Shabbat service recently.  Including myself, only slightly more than two dozen were in attendance.  At 71, I was among the youngest.

According to Pew, intermarriage among liberal Jews is running between 50% and 70%.  At that rate, two or three of the four members of the latest generation will marry outside the faith.

No one doubts that the slaughter at Tree of Life was tragic.  However, had Rabbi Starr's grandfather's three children each had three of their own (9), and had those nine grandchildren had three of their own (27), far more lives would have been added to American Jewry's numbers than were lost in the Pittsburgh shootings.

I'n no rabbi.  I began on the South Side of Chicago, selling used cars at my family's business, and earned degrees in economics and statistics.  But I believe that people who say they care about a place called Tree of Life should read very carefully the Torah verse from which it was taken.

"It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, and those who draw near it are fortunate."

You can't say you feel for Tree of Life if you contend that the document it's taken from is not valid.  You can't urge "putting God second" and say you're supporting Jewish peoplehood.

David P. Goldman, who writes under the pseudonym "Spengler," contends in How Civilizations Die that when ethnic groups stop believing, they cease reproducing.

The Shalom Hartman Institute and the Starr family can do more for Jewish peoplehood by encouraging adherence to Judaism and encouraging larger families.  They have two more programs scheduled in metro Detroit in upcoming months.  Don't look for them to do so.

The story is told of two women from rabbinic families who came recently to Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Southfield, Michigan to discuss Jewish peoplehood.  They are tied together by the synagogue, an institute, and the Conservative movement.

Shaarey Zedek is a storied congregation.  When it was founded in 1861, most Jews in America had come from Germany, where Judaism was rapidly moving toward Reform.  As the nineteenth century unfolded, worshipers who favored a more traditional liturgy were breaking off to form what would come to be known as Conservative synagogues.  Not Orthodox, not Reformed — something in between.

Another of that type was Tree of Life in Pittsburgh.

Even though neither they nor their families accept it, both women are furthering the demise of Judaism in North America: in a 90-minute presentation, not a word was spoken about Judaism, the Jewish religion.  It was all about American Jewish culture and its differences from culture in Israel.

They are sticking knives into Jewish peoplehood in North America by representing a post-religious organization and by ignoring the true risks facing Jewish continuity.  They are encouraged in this by writers such as Batya Unger-Sargon of The Forward, who insists that we not let focus on Jewish continuity get in the way of our liberal values.

Caroline Glick wrote recently about American Jewry's coming day of reckoning.  They ignored it.

Baruch Pletner writes regularly at Tsionizm dot com on Judaism's American Challenge, but he too is ignored.

The Shalom Hartman Institute, for which the two women work, is headed by someone who recently published a book Putting God Second.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who heads the Union for Reform Judaism, is a senior rabbinic fellow at Hartman.  We may have thought Shaarey Zedek is Conservative, but Hartman is closely affiliated with the Reform movement.

The greatest risks to Jewish continuity in America are collapsing fertility, spiraling intermarriage, and diminishing literacy.  About these, the two presenters said nothing. 

Instead, they centered on the differences between American Jewish peoplehood and the Israeli version, suggesting that Jewish students in America need the ability to feel safe when discussing Israel.

I was at a Tree of Life Shabbat service recently.  Including myself, only slightly more than two dozen were in attendance.  At 71, I was among the youngest.

According to Pew, intermarriage among liberal Jews is running between 50% and 70%.  At that rate, two or three of the four members of the latest generation will marry outside the faith.

No one doubts that the slaughter at Tree of Life was tragic.  However, had Rabbi Starr's grandfather's three children each had three of their own (9), and had those nine grandchildren had three of their own (27), far more lives would have been added to American Jewry's numbers than were lost in the Pittsburgh shootings.

I'n no rabbi.  I began on the South Side of Chicago, selling used cars at my family's business, and earned degrees in economics and statistics.  But I believe that people who say they care about a place called Tree of Life should read very carefully the Torah verse from which it was taken.

"It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it, and those who draw near it are fortunate."

You can't say you feel for Tree of Life if you contend that the document it's taken from is not valid.  You can't urge "putting God second" and say you're supporting Jewish peoplehood.

David P. Goldman, who writes under the pseudonym "Spengler," contends in How Civilizations Die that when ethnic groups stop believing, they cease reproducing.

The Shalom Hartman Institute and the Starr family can do more for Jewish peoplehood by encouraging adherence to Judaism and encouraging larger families.  They have two more programs scheduled in metro Detroit in upcoming months.  Don't look for them to do so.