Heterodoxy, by the Numbers

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3 Responses

  1. dochesed says:

    We need to be careful with our rhetoric in these discussions. Jewish continuity is a means to an end–true belief and practice (living “Torah true lives”). But, you write: “Their Rabbis, in particular, share a commitment to Jewish education and Jewish growth. I have absolutely nothing against them…” Of course we have something “against them”. They are eductation their members with falsehood; they are teaching kefira; and they are sanctioning or even encourging behaviors that are are assur, assur doraisa, and chayav kares. How can we have nothing against such people?

  2. Charles B. Hall says:

    ‘most of the early Zionists rejected Judaism entirely’

    I don’t agree with this statement. Had they really rejected Judaism entirely, they would not have made aliyah to Eretz Yisrael but would have stayed in Europe and assmiliated, or moved to America and assimilated, or maybe moved to Uganda! By choosing Eretz Yisrael they expressed their love of the Land HaShem gave us even though they may have done it in a way that we Orthodox folks might not have done. That was an expression of a Jewish spirit, the collective inspiration of many Jewish souls: something that does not die even in the most apparently assimilated Jew! We must remember that even in our times with levels of assimilation unmatched since Roman times, not a single one of our Jewish brothers or sisters is truly lost for good, for as long as they are alive they have the potential to return.

    ‘Are the numbers wrong?’

    They might well be. The 2000 NJPS oversampled areas believed to have large Jewish populations, and undersampled other areas. This makes the estimates of the overall Jewish population less reliable while making the characterization of those Jews who live in areas believed a priori to have large Jewish populations more reliable. It is quite believable that many Jews who live in areas with small Jewish populations might have been missed by the survey. If that is true, the survey would likely have under-estimated the total Jewish population while over-estimating the proportion of Jews who are religious.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Thank you for your answer. It was intelligent, well reasoned, and required me to think my own assumptions through – exactly what I had grown to expect. Sorry it took me so long to reply – I needed to think it through, and my kids were sick.

    Are the numbers wrong? Can anything be done?

    There are several issues here:

    1. The value of Judaism to individual Jews.
    2. The choice of spouse and number of children.
    3. The ability to transmit Judaism to the next generation.

    The heterodox movements are doing a fair job of #1. If they hadn’t, we (heterodox Jews like myself) would not be going there. Education resources like torah.org also help – I wonder what precent of your donors are non Orthodox.

    I doubt #2 can be changed. When you tell somebody: “you should not marry that man/woman you love unless they convert, and then you need to have at least n children, regardless of what you want”, that person would tend to hear: “I see you first and foremost as a tool for the sake of our group. Your individual happiness is secondary to me”.

    #3 is the free variable. You once told me torah.org used to have a teenager program – what happened with it?

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