Jewish organizations lag behind the community in America
By RONN TOROSSIAN
To many in the Jewish community, the UJA Jewish Community Survey recently released came as a shock. The survey found that liberal Jews have fewer children, do not provide meaningful Jewish education, Intermarry, assimilate and largely disappear as Jews. On the other hand, Orthodox Jews have more children, make intensive Jewish education a priority and assure Jewish continuity and vibrant growth. Seventy-four percent of all New York City’s Jewish children are now Orthodox – a vast increase from previous surveys.
Amazingly, American Jewry lives in two different worlds – the religious and the liberal – completely different planets (not unlike previous discussions of The State of The Jews vs. The State of Israelis). Religious people and liberals think differently, act differently, vote differently and clearly the Jewish community is seeing this schism in an overwhelming manner. I believe it will only continue to grow – as liberals become universalists and further away from their religion, nation and people.
A huge disconnect between the establishment and the committed Jewish community has grown bigger with the major American Jewish organizations like the very UJA that conducted the survey, the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and others – being largely run by secular liberal Jews. One wonders how many of them send their kids to Jewish day schools? (Can anyone say out of touch?)
While some provide services of interest to the religious community, very few actually relate to them or are even geared toward that demographic. The real alarming part is that while these were and are presumably established to serve the Jewish community, there are very few orthodox or traditional people working at these organizations. Secular, liberal Jews are “serving” a community that has grown so vastly apart from them – and is different in so many ways. I’d venture that amongst the ten largest Jewish organizations, perhaps 5% of the staff is religious – and fewer of their programs are targeting the religious establishment.
It is time for “The New Jewish Community 1.01″ to be introduced. The Jewish people is omni-present and as Ze’ev Jabotinskysaid in 1937, “Jewish religious tradition is not an archaic object of our history, but an active pulsating power which exists today and will continue for all eternity.”
We can only hope that the Jewish establishment realizes that the future has to not just act differently, but look differently too for the Jewish people to thrive.
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