Wertheimer Hits the Nail Again

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4 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    When we lived in Nassau County (Long Island, NY) around 1980, someone told me that the Jewish Federation already had a problem locating potential donors to contact. They were used to combining lists of Jews affiliated with various Jewish organizations, but this was no longer enough because large numbers of Jews in their area no longer belonged to any Jewish organization at all. Their plan at the time (I don’t know if it did them any good) was to start combing phonebooks for Jewish-looking names.

    About a decade later, we were living in Metro Detroit, and their Federation had commissioned a study to count all Jews in that area. This “census” was done very thoroughly, and its results surprised everybody. There were about 15,000 to 20,000 Jews beyond the predicted total. These were the unaffiliated.

    So now, from Jonathan’s account of the latest study, we see that assimilation is still intensifying, which most of us probably suspected anyway based on our own experiences.

    Jonathan, what initiatives can you propose to attempt to deal with this?

  2. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Lots and lots of kiruv is the answer. Day schools must recruit on the basis of superior education and values. They must go all out to raise money for scholarship funds. Promote programs in Israel with Jewish content on the entry level such as Discovery and Livnot. And daven. Eventually this will bottom out as the Jewish community that is left becomes thoroughly Orthodox by default.As the heterodox institutions decline in membership the Orthodox families and institutions should adopt them and do strong kiruv of their remaining members. One remarkable story occurred in Santa Fe, NM, where Torah Bamidbar was established a number of years ago, a congregation of baalei teshuva established with the active support of the local reform rabbi. And make aliya. As people move out, paradoxically the remaining active Jews are challenged to replace the work of those who leave. Have no fear, Hashem is here.

  3. Eliot says:

    > Not surprisingly, identification of American Jews with Israel and
    > giving to Israel (among the non-Orthodox) has declined rapidly.

    Here is another factor. For generations support of The Jewish State has been a major binding force for American Jews. During the pre-state era until fairly recently there was a strong need to help our brethren in need, most of whom were refugees from oppression in their native lands or only a generation removed from same and struggling to survive. It was this friends-of-the-Jewish-State-ism that became the convenient replacement for the Judaism of the Torah for over half a century.

    Today’s Israel, with its $120 billion GDP and a national identity streak that draws stark contrast with the Jewish diaspora, no longer seems to need us. Accordingly, that emunah surrogate no longer carries the weight it once did.

  4. ak says:

    I agree with #2 Yehoshua Friedman. Another venue for kiruv is Partners in Torah. It works !!! Volunteer. They need mentors.

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