American Jewry in Trouble

What can we do about it?

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Comments (114)

(114) Anonymous, August 30, 2009 11:05 AM

It is so difficult to meet other Jews socially when one has not attended a Jewish day school. By the grace of GD during my wild years I landed up in Israel, got married to another Jew and became more observant. Many other friends were not so lucky, and they have married out. I dont know how to stop that, but one of the ways is to make it easier for young non observant Jews to meet. It needs to be a non religious fun setting, non threatening, non forceful - and nothing to do with shabbat. Maybe something culturally Jewish. I know when I was not religious, I found the whole 'observant thing' very threatening.

(113) Felix Delgado, August 18, 2009 3:10 AM

marketing kosher food at a resaonable price

Trying to keep kosher is expensive.It's eazy to just drive up to a Wendy's, Mcdonalds or a Burger King and order A plain hamburger for a dollar than to go to a kosher delli and buy the same thing for four dollars.I eat veggies throu the week and buy kosher beef or chiken for Shabbat.But I see how others struggle to save and give in to non kosher resturants.I think marketing kosher food at a competetive price can be a start to reverse this trouble in American Jewry.

(112) devora, August 17, 2009 10:23 PM

talk to their hearts

People must see Judaism in a way that appeals to their hearts and their souls. It must touch them. Why else would anyone want to be religious? Just for the rules? The long fast days? The long history of oppression? I don't think so.

(111) vered, August 17, 2009 10:21 PM

more social connection to gentiles

Most Jews go to public school, so not only do they not learn about Judaism, they learn the social values of their states and they befriend non-Jews and pick up their customs and beleifs. There is little chance for Jews who grow up with gentile ideas and gentile people all around them to come to Judaism, unless there are people who bring them as much Judaism as they would have gotten in their own religious homes and religious schools. I don't know how to do this--it would take a giant effort of volunteers. There is a charter school in Florida, the Ben Gamla school (bengamlacharter.com), that teaches Hebrew and teaches about Judaism, but it's not a religious school, because it's not allowed to be. Something like this might work (or it might make things worse, if it's not real Judaism).

(110) temima, August 17, 2009 10:13 PM

jews are unique

I don't know about older Jews--they probably weren't taught about Judaism or left it because it didn't appeal to them, but most younger Jews--35 and under--don't think there's anything different or special about being a Jew. Most young Jews came across the belief that "all religions are the same," "It's the same G-d, just different religions use different names for G-d," "all religions are nice and help people be good and get close to G-d, the actual religion doesn't make a difference," so they feel no need to be of any one religion, not even their own, especially since it's not politically correct to say one religion is right and the others are wrong or that one religion is better than the other, which is what they'd be showing they believe if they picked a religion. Young Jews today do not seem to realize that they are Jews, not Goyim. you need to get it across to them who they are and why it's okay to be confident with who they are.

(109) Daniel, August 17, 2009 8:12 PM

Where Are We Doing Wrong? We Are Remaining In the [cursed] Exile

BS"D Without the Sanhedrin and the Beith HaMiqdash - and the reinstitution of sacrifices - our religion is merely surviving, not thriving. It is time for a majority of Diaspora rabbonim to take a very courageous step, and lead us back home to Yisrael. Chazak!

(108) mona, August 17, 2009 8:10 PM

Jewish marriage

Intermarriage and irreligious jewish marriage are problems, because this can almost only lead to irreligious children. There should be much better Jewish dating websites and much better Jewish matchmakers that explain about Judaism and how it is important and what to look for in a mate and how to raise Jewish children. Matchmakers and matchmaking sites that make people first tell their height, age, body type, and profession may not be doing the best job. Jewish dating sites and Jewish matchmakers should talk about why people marry, how to know if they are really ready to be married, how to be the best spouse they can be, how to choose a proper spouse etc. These should be right there on the sites so that everyone can read about this. There should be stories of what good marriages are, articles about Jewish marriage, and articles and/or talks about our ancestors' marriages, from great rabbis of the last few hundred years, all the way back to the sages and the mothers and fathers of our nation, and even back to Adam and Eve. I know that there are a lot of inspiring stories that can make people stop and think and change their lives for the better. There is a lot to learn, and if young people are actually looking for a jewish spouse, they should be able to learn about what to look for and what to do once they've found someone. Probably even religious jews could use this, since they seem a little confused sometimes, too.

(107) cindy, August 17, 2009 8:02 PM

a lot of people and a lot of work

I think that you will need to set up a giant system of organizations and programs and communities and helpfor a lot of people. I think it will need to be set up in a very specific and organized way, like the governments of countires--different branches, different powers, from the top, where large programs and events are created and overseen and put into development and are given the go-ahead, all the way down to where specific people focus on specific things, such as money for nation-wide jewish education, community gatherings, after-school programs and events for Jewish children etc. There may need to be actual jobs created so that people can work on this full-time. The main goal would be: Create and keep observant Jews.

(106) joey, August 17, 2009 7:55 PM

lost orthodox children

If you look around at all the wonderful orthodox children today, so blessed to have been raised in Jewish homes and to be nurtured and cared for by Jewish parents and grandparents and to be given Jewish education, how many do you think would be able to learn about Judaism to the extent of believing fully and practcing fully, if they had not grown up with it? If you think about how you would have to go about teaching them all and bringing them all back, maybe you can figure out a way to bring these Jews back, too. They are in the same position. They would be orthodox Jews now if not for tragic events, and we owe them. These people would have been orthodox Jews only a few generations ago. Do we want our children lost if, heaven forfend, events transpire to give them no Jewish upbringing? We don't know what will happen in the future, or even in the very near future. What kind of world must we build to make sure that orthodox Judaism can be found by all who belong? I hope that this wasn't a rhetorical question and that you will really read everyone's responses and think long and hard about this and do something about this. You need to be far-thinking. I am sure you have the ability and drive and perserverance to get much assistance and support. I think you can succeed.

(105) aliza c, August 17, 2009 7:43 PM

good and plenty

There would be more Jews connected to Judaism if real Judaism were both more palatable and readily available. It's not palatable to the mainstream because it seems old and strange, because the people espousing its virtues do not seem knowledgable or content, and because religion is hard--it's is difficult to follow rules of a Master you are not too sure about. There is not enough about Judaism readily available for people to find it on their own. I can turn on my TV and watch several channels of preachers and watch sitcoms and dramas and learn all about other religious beliefs, practices, and holidays. There is no shul TV or religious soap opera characters to teach me about the beauty of Purim.

(104) ella, August 17, 2009 7:34 PM

ask them why

Why don't you ask people who have remained with Judaism, people who have left and then returned, and people who have never left what it is that makes them dedicated to observant Judaism. Was it teachers, parents, grandparents, friends, outreach programs, camps, websites, day school, belief instilled in childhood, belief realized in adulthood, or something else? Find out! You can do a lot of good.

(103) shayna, August 17, 2009 7:30 PM

let them know

What do you expect? Most Jews grow up without knowing much about Judaism. they might know about a certain holiday or have a nice story about a grandparent or maybe they even had a bar mitzvah, but that's about it. They know a lot about other religions and cultures, a lot about popular culture, but not about their own. Why? because it's not out there for them to see. The only people who really have knowlege about the religion are the very religious who are focused on raising their own families and doing their own work, not on teaching Jews about Judaism. So there needs to be more people reaching out to other Jews to teach them about what they're missing. Aish exists, but so do lots of websites about lots of things, and not all people visit websites they should, and not all people know about websites that might help them, and not every Jew knows about aish or would even be willing to see what it's about. You must reach out. You must create some system, some network of people and websites and teachers in order to go and teach people and bring them to a better way of life.

(102) Anonymous, August 17, 2009 4:36 PM

Ritual By Rote Meaningless Judaism

I see a lot of the problem is that Jewish parents have no idea about the depths of meanings behind the mitzvot or anything else in Judaism. So the children have no idea what is their purpose in life as Jews, what they are here to be doing as Jews and as a nation of priests, a holy people. What needs to change is that Kabbalah needs to be taught from the very beginning. In Hebrew school, in shuls of all kinds starting with the very youngest children in the very youngest classes. Children need to be grown from the beginning on the deeper meanings of the mitzvot, the prayers, their souls including reincarnation, and all the rest. Concepts presented to be age appropriate for understanding and comprehending. Jews today have no idea what they are here for. They have no clue about being a nation of priests. There is no meaning for them.

(101) Anonymous, August 17, 2009 3:53 PM

libraries

There is a need for Jewish libraries in every place where there are Jews. There must be a place where Jews can connect to their religion through books about their history, their laws, their great rabbis. I have access to artscroll and feldheim books, beause I know about these books, and I save up for them, but not everyone knows, and not everyone can afford them. Imagine if every Jew can have access to a large library full of books and music and film about real and true Judaism and Jewish practice and Jewish people! There can be a children's section, too, full of books and music and toys so people can learn about Judaism together with their children. How wonderful! This would be a difficult undertaking, but if the libraries could be made to be so wonderful that people would choose to go there rather than someplace else for some time each week, or each day, Judaism could really flourish as brilliantly as it should, and so many people could get in touch wiith their true selves and could desire and be capable of passing on their religion to other Jews, as well.

(100) Anonymous, August 17, 2009 3:45 PM

rich history

Young Jews need to learn about their rich history, about the wonderful and good Jews and religious Jewish leaders. They need to really understand who their matriarchs and patriarchs were, and understand that they are part of them. They need to learn all the stories about how great a nation and religion this is. If anything, learning about all the positive aspects of Judaism will get them interested in their own religion, and maybe will even let them realize that they are good people, like their ancestors, and they are definitely not part of any other group or religion that is not that great. How to do this? I'm not sure. Websites, e-mails, facebook, myspace, twitter? Free Jewish schools? Some project set to convince Jewish parents that Jewish learning does not stop with a bar or bat mitzvah?

(99) lily, August 17, 2009 3:40 PM

movies books tv

You need to have Torah true Judaism out there in the media for people to see what it really is! There is so much technology--why limit yourselves? Every kind of crazy "religion" and "lifestyle" is played out for millions of impressionable children, young aduls, adults, and senior citizens, who watch and listen and read these things all the time. Why isn't there any true Judaism for people to see and to want to become part of? (I don't mean to seek converts, only to show Jews--originally observant or not, what is out there for them). When was the last time you saw a a pious and dignified Jew on tv or in a movie lighting shabbat candles and singing zmiros, giving a dvar torah, and doing chessed? Do you see Jews on tv loggin on to the Aish website? Do you see them with a long list of the gemachs in their neighborhood, their concern for one another, their biig hearts? No, you do not--you see incredible greed, shallowness and lack of any kind of true religious endeavor, and usually a complete muddling of what Judaism really is. Our children deserve to see more than this.

(98) One Answer, August 17, 2009 3:15 PM

All-encompasing life

Many Jews, from many different backgrounds and segments of Judaism, grow up very secular, hearing and believing in the secular notion that there are a lot of "truths," that everyone is right, that everyone should do what they want, as long as they don't hurt anyone else. Then, when they encounter strict observant Judaism, with its archaic rules, with its people who dress like they've escaped from Europe 150 years ago, and who, unforunately, do not always reflect well on Juudaism, these young people are not only turned off, but turned off in righteous indignation--they know "for a fact" that they are better than these "old-fashioned Jews" who "obviously" are no better than they and have nothing to teach them. (You see, as part of the "many truths," there is still "One truth" that young people always know is not true at all, that of observant Judaism. Ever wonder why, in a world where anything goes, for these people, Orthodox Judaism does not go anywhere at all?)

(97) Paul Katz, August 17, 2009 6:28 AM

Day school from kindergargen to college

Public school education and especially college eliminates most Jewish kids from having a chance to live and think Jewishly. Jewish day school with emphasis on Hashem, Torah and Eretz Israel is essential to getting most kids to see and feel how deeply good it is to be a Jew. It will also make them better Americans too.

(96) Anonymous, August 17, 2009 6:21 AM

dear rabbi, you asked the question 'what can be done to this problem?' today i read words by r. jonathan sachs and they resonated with your question - "judaism stayed young because it made heroes of the young. the best present we can give our children is the chance to do something great." i would add "for judaism" at the end of the sentence. best of luck signed; a jewish mother struck by this disease

(95) Anonymous, August 16, 2009 11:18 PM

As parents one must maintain a good attitude

Many years ago when my husband and I were first married, we noticed that many of our jewish peers who were also young parents had pretty negative attitudes about Judaism For instance, the idea of a day school education for their children was not cool, keeping the mitzvot was not cool, talking respectfully about Judaism and their fellow Jews was not cool and so on and so forth. Now I realize that some religious people are kind of "out there" but I thought then and still do that many of them were really courting trouble if they wanted their own children to grow into responsible Jewish adults. Then, just as now, there were plenty of intelligent and fascinating religious people if only they were not too cool to seek them out. Now, many years later, the results are beginng to be apparent - their children who grew up surrounded with the negative attitudes of their parents, are often hostile about being Jews. Indeed they want to out do their own parents in their indifference to the Jewish religion and peoplehood. So, to answer your inquiry, the current crisis is that someone has to level with young Jews before they start dating and tell them that Judaism is not a given and if they are too cool to marry Jewish, give their kids a decent Jewish education and talk respectfully about the Jewish people, their own children will probably assimilate into the larger American society. It's really just that simple. PS Making aliyah is not a bad idea.

(94) Holly, August 16, 2009 9:23 PM

Reach out to places other than NYC and NJ

My family and I live in the Reston area of Virginia and there is a very small, not very religious Jewish population here. To get Kosher food, we have to drive up to Maryland (30 miles), the high holiday services are held in a Catholic church, and our rabbi is leaving this year and hasn't had much interest in our congregation in a long time. I think the best way to reach out to the younger generation is really to show them that Judaism isn't just relegated to our grandparent's generation. When we go to synagogue, 3/4 of the congregation is over 65. There are no activities for people who are not married, and no programs for those married, but without children. Activities need to be there in the synagogue for all ages like the Christian churches do. There seems to be a very big age difference in the Reston are Jews, and we don't feel very connected to the Jewish population of America. We're definitely lost in the wilderness without a guide.

(93) ikey gammal, August 16, 2009 1:44 PM

give them back there identity back we dont know who we are or what we can do we decide weatheir this world will be peace or not people should know that

(92) Anonymous, August 16, 2009 10:14 AM

food, hygiene, cleanliness, manners

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. People DO judge books by their covers. I believe that food, hygiene, cleanliness, and manners are critical factors here. Kosher restaurants and butchers are by and large a disgrace, and an instant turnoff. Ditto with the other factors I mentioned. If, as R' Salomon says, we want to make Judaism more "attractive," well then we must make it more, well, attractive. Simple. On a related note, I once heard an Aish rabbi give a talk on the same subject as R' Salomon, and his response to the objection, "But all those religious Jews don't look too happy," was "But we're working in this world for happiness in the next." What obtuse nonsense, not to mention what Xian nonsense. Finally, a concern--R' Salomon asked for ideas, but he didn't indicate how he'd like to receive those ideas. Is he checking this comment board?

(91) Niklas Ekestam, August 16, 2009 9:17 AM

What's in it for you?

What is good, for you, with Judaism? It is a question that have to be answered individually bye every Jew. Jews are not against the rest of the peoples of world. Judaism is a blessing for all humanity, bringing tools for peace with the neighbours in every place.

(90) MENACHEM MENDEL, August 16, 2009 6:26 AM

RABBI, THAT WAS A GREAT IDEA, EXCEPT THAT ALL OF THESE RESPONDENTS ARE ATTACHED JEWS. NOW YOU NEED TO TALK TO THE UNATTACHED JEWS AND ASK THEM WHAT IS GETTING IN THE WAY OF THEIR BEING ATTACHED. WHAT CAUSED THEM TO DISSASSOCIATE. IS THERE SOME REASON NO ONE HAS MADE AN EFFORT TO DO THAT ?

(89) Anonymous, August 16, 2009 6:25 AM

Coming from a religious background, I went to an orthodox Jewish day school for first 8 years of my schooling. For high school, my parents and I decided that public school was the best fit considering that the only modern Jewish high school in the city was out of our financial budget. While I was in high school, I got to see Judaism from a whole different perspective. I got to see what was out there, and how the outside wold viewed us Jews. I met a lot of Jews who were reform and did not keep shabbos or kosher, and began to contemplate their life and how they grew up compared to my life. I immediately realized the root of why so many American teenagers and children no longer associate themselves as Jews. The problem is that Judaism to them looks like a "restriction" from the fun that life has to offer. As Jews. we must constantly limit ourselves on what we can eat, wear, partake in, and enjoy. In my city there is only two kosher restaurants you can go to. There are only two crowds of people can hang out with -- either the really religious ones or the really un-religious group. As most teens today are, they dont want to deal with all the restrictions and therefore they dont fit into the religious group -- leaving them with the un religious group. Once you begin to mingle with the unreligous crowd, it is human nature to begin to assimilation and through peer pressure, cut off connection with your Jewish/religious background. So, basically I am placing the problem on the society for allowing only two groups to exist and for not providing enough exciiting events to keep teeenagers attached to Judaism.i place blame on the societies who are failing to provide a nurturing environment that will connect all religious sectors of jews -from the reform to the really orthodox jews.

(88) Anonymous, August 16, 2009 2:58 AM

it gave me somthing to thing about

thank you

(87) Anonymous, August 14, 2009 3:17 PM

Americian Jews

Maybe they need to know just how very special they are to the country they live in. Being Jewish brings blessings and good to the population. People will notice and want Jews in their midst. Being lukewarm brings nothing to themselves and nothing to their host country. Many people are now waking up to this Blessing. They should be all they can be.

(86) rabbi Dvir, August 14, 2009 3:10 PM

very alarming. This is something community rabbi's must discuss and act upon. thx for the chizuck

(85) Anonymous, August 14, 2009 5:34 AM

Community is Key

I agree with the Rabbi about the sad state of affairs. Once Jewish americans are raised in the secular, westernized cutlure that we live in, it becomes increasingly difficult for that young person to identify with their Jewish heritage...not that we should or can go back to pre-world War II, but the reason why Jews over the centuries committed themselves to being and living Jewish lives was that they were born into and lived out their lives in Jewish communities...it wasn't even a question, or choice, because all Jews knew who they were and what their purpose was, they had pride in their lives and differentiated themselves from the outside, secular world. deep down we all seek a community, one in which we belong, that accepts us, where we understand our place. Our great great grandparents didn't have to define who they were, they knew they were Jewish and Jewish values were transmitted by the family foremost and then by the community. The best way to encourage young, secular, Americanized Jews to return to their heritage is by raising communities that foster this sense of belonging from day one. The Orthodox in crown heights should be the model for what Jewish communities should strive for today- having one community all driven by the same purpose and goals, creating a sense of belonging, and meaning for all Jews within

(84) Florence Kaplan, August 14, 2009 2:20 AM

Helping Singles

Please have more activities and chances to meet, for Jewish Singles--not only in the big cities--but also in suburbs.

(83) Anonymous, August 14, 2009 2:00 AM

Mainstream Media & Educating Current Orth. Jews

Have you considered "advertising" on mainstream media outlets? (TV, web ads at unrelated pop culture sites.) You'd need a strong ad to at once appeal to the Jews who are watching, but in no way offend others... It would be tricky. Web tracking could help. Also, there are many Jews who are potential BT's, but are turned off by the elitist attitude of many FFB's. It may help to make kiruv part of our standard educational curriculum. There is a mythical fear of them affecting us (instead of us affecting them) which needs to be debunked.

(82) Anonymous, August 13, 2009 9:35 PM

B"H Observance can be overwhelming requiring much effort and expense and self discipline. Some of us are overly indulgent and it is difficult to transition from a "me-generation" personality to a communal personality. I welcome affordable and modest communal meals at the Sabbath and Holidays because it minimizes the strain on the family, requires less individual effort, and allows one to be part of the community. Judaism requires a person to be highly disciplined and unfortunately, this is not every one's strength.

(81) Anonymous, August 13, 2009 8:57 PM

What turns American Jews away from their religion?

Rabbi, I believe that the biggest problem for US Jews is the lack of access to a Jewish education. A Jewish day school or Yeshiva is cost prohibitive or inaccessible for many American Jews. Once the kids go to public schools, they begin to assimilate and their Jewish heritage and the Torah are lost to them forever. This opens the door to intermarriage and the like. Jewish schools need to be more accepting of Jews from non-religious homes and Jewish philantropists should provide for more educational scholarships. Additionally, the different clothing and customs of Hassisdic Jews are often seen as severely restrictive and alien to secular Jews. We need to get out the message that Judaism is relevant and meaningful to Jews no mater what their level of religiousness. Chabad is doing a good job of reaching out and accepting people of different Jewish backgrounds and we need more of that.

(80) Allie, August 13, 2009 7:22 PM

Is it really confusing?

I'm honestly having a hard time seeing why this is either a surprise, or confusing. For those of us who were raised completely secularly and want to try to become more observant, there are obstacles in every step of the journey. There is a huge amount of judgment directed at us, not to mention the financial aspects (classes are so expensive and often are at times that are difficult to make it to; membership to a shul costs thousands of dollars which many of us can't afford). If a person is involved w/ a non-Jew, s/he is subject to even more judgment and treated like their actions are a betrayal to the entirety of the Jewish people - that's a HUGE burden and amount of guilt to place on someone. At holiday celebrations, the secular Jew is allowed to go (with some trepidation), but his/her partner is not welcome to participate. This makes it even harder for the person to consider a more observant life, and also harder to create a situation where the non-Jewish partner would feel comfortable considering conversion after being subject to this type of exclusionary behaviour. Let's all remember that the Torah has many examples of intermarriage and stop blaming intermarriage for all the problems we have. Intermarriage could be used to make our people stronger (via conversion), but we treat people like second-class citizens if they're either not Jewish, or secular Jews. It's discouraging at best.

(79) Anonymous, August 13, 2009 9:21 AM

R' Solomon , What should we do about intermarriage? Make it clear again and again that a child of a non jewish mother is not Jewish

(78) Anonymous, August 13, 2009 4:24 AM

Funding

Rabbi: This awful problem will not diminish unless those megabillionaire Jews fund Jewish Youth for trips to their homeland and also for Jewish Summer Camps. But it is summer camp and Trips to Israel, not merely for a week or ten days, but a month. This creates a feeling a belonging, and friendships with other Jews whether American or Israeli, are created that can last a lifetime and instill in them a love of Israel and Judaism.

(77) shoshana, August 13, 2009 1:06 AM

bad publicity about orthadox jews

I find that the biggest challenge we are facing are the horrible stories and bad publicity about orthadox jews, between one of the biggest scandals in history, the other one that just happened by "rabbis", the riots in israel ( The riots disturbed me the most!). Imagine someone who all they know about orthadox people are scandals and violent ("Look how crazy they are" "I am a better person than these rabbis" "They are strict about not turning on a light on shabbos, but not about stealing money!)". So the orthadox have to do a better job on making a Kiddush Hashem. Also, Aish should exemplify that we don't accept or represnt these negative behaviors. Aish hatorah ignores many of these issues (like the riots). Maybe it is uncomfortable to bring up these topics, but if these issues turn Jews off from Judaism, then we need to address them. Hatzlacha on the beautiful work you do to bring all Jews closer to Judaism. I hope you continue to be succeesful in your mission!

(76) Steve, August 12, 2009 11:35 PM

Jewish Singles >40 are being ignored and this is part of the problem

The divorce rate in the US is over 60%, this means that a large proportion of Jewish singles are older than the age range served by Aish (20s). This large proportion of Jews are faced with the choice of remaining alone or intermarrying. How many Jews are lost to Judaism due to the neglect of the Jewish Leadership ?

(75) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 9:44 PM

inclusion

I've been thinking about your video for a few days now, wondering about the issue. I think it has something to do with wanting to belong to the world. The idea of being "other", "chosen", and further isolated is not appealing. The burden of having to live up to the "chosen" "special" "gifted" etc. labels instead of just being able to be a "person". Most assimilated Jews that I know are special people who like to think that they're special not because they are Jewish. They go out of their way to prove that. To admit to and embrace the Mosaic way of life makes us visible. It's somehow easier to hide, or to think that we are hidden by assimilating. How to deal with this problem is something that only another one of Hashems' lessons will be able to shed light on. It really is history repeating itself again. The lessons of Jews throughout history, where we thrived and did well in the world were the places that eventually hated us the most. Again???? Please Hashem, no.

(74) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 4:45 PM

Maybe Jews are too close to the Problem.

There is an old saying that you can't see the forest for the trees. It means that you are too close to the issues to see things clearly. After reading some of the articles and comments on Aish.com for the past several years, I think the Jews are not clear what they as a culture, nation, or tribe are here to do. When you encounter a difficult time or a problem, Torah is quoted and an interpretation is given. That is a GOOD thing, however it doesn't seem to be working for the young people. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Most of the Jews are scattered about the earth, and don't try to find or even acknowledge each other. You are in a huge melting pot of assimilation. You have Jewish women having Jewish babies in every country in the world, and you don't find them and tell them who they are. Those babies are growing up, Buddist, Christian, Muslim, and Atheist and never will know their ancient heritage. (bring them up from “Egypt” and tell them who they really are) It seems the only people who have merit in returning to Israel are the 'real' Jews, and the young who can raise Jewish families.

(73) RR, August 12, 2009 2:40 PM

Response to #57 Jerry "Big Deal"

If you're a cultural jew-What are the chances your grandchildren will be jewish too? And if they are, what will keep them from intermarrying-culture alone just isn't enough!

(72) Leah, August 12, 2009 11:13 AM

I believe one way to attract other jews to what is rightfully theirs is to go to the campuses more often and to "set up shop" there. Afterall, it is the center of so many young jews lives. It is the place where their judaism is potentially either taken from them or it opens up for them. Look, many of these jews come from reform or conservative backgrounds or none at all and once they get to college many of those jewish "feelings" are either bolstered or dropped completely in place of even more liberal ideas. The college atmosphere breeds this lifestyle to continue once they have graduated. At least on the campus kiruv workers have 4 years to help to change this attitude and may be able to affect a change for the positive.

(71) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 10:42 AM

Part 3 (the most important) of too long a comment

3.) Judaism is not a variety of cuisine or of dress or of humor or of worship- or meditation- centered religion or of political State or even of values or law alone – of any of those things which are called “culture” or even “religion”. It is a way of life called the Torah which is applicable to everything in the world, in the midst of any culture. If we would raise children in the paths of Torah with the simcha and geshmak (joy and savor) and above all the feeling of chashivus that they presently seek elsewhere, they would not depart from them. In saying that the lack of Torah is our problem I respectfully disagree with some of the comments posted earlier that suggest that it is the lack of attention to Ashkenazi culture or Israeli statehood or an abstract morality or good manners or broad-mindedness (all of which are fine things) that is the root of our children’s lack of Jewish identity.

(70) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 10:41 AM

Part Two of too long a comment

2.) The absence of Rav Hirsch’s counsel (an all-unifying approach, TiDE; and the independent family-like Kehillah) is noticeable in American Jewry's sore spots. We would do well to learn Rav Hirsch's Torah al mnas laasos (taking it to heart to apply it). Sara Schnierer based the original Bais Yaakov curriculum on Rav Hirsch’s teachings because she understood that they were what a Haskala-influenced generation needed. We are a few decades down the line, but we have the same questions as those girls in Cracow. (I thought this even before I began tutoring, but now the students I tutor tell me all the time that they have independently discovered someone named Rav Hirsch who satisfactorily addresses all their questions.)

(69) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 10:41 AM

see the Meshech Chochma on Bechukosai

1.) People need a sense of individual chashivus (importance): both those who grow up observant and those who find it later need to understand that we can be mechadesh (develop anew) something within the Torah world, that even the most sensitive observant Jews are also growing individuals whom we can teach even as they teach us. Speaking of "Kiruv" (outreach) as a unique pursuit by the Observant for the Non-Observant wrongly suggests that both are monoliths. Kiruv consists solely of the same love, respect, and chinuch that we give our own children and classmates and teachers.

(68) Jewish Mother, August 12, 2009 9:56 AM

Answer for #62

No, you were not rambling and your questions are good ones. The full answers would take up many volumes of books, so here is the very short answer to a couple of your questions: 1. Of Course G-d loves you. He loves every one of his children unconditionally, and like any parent only wants your happiness and the best Good that there can be. Therefore, he gave us Torah to teach us how to acheive that greatest Good. There is only One creator, One Source for all that exists in this world, and no mortal -- not jesus, not muhammed, not anyone else -- is like G-d, or has any part in Him, as we say every day 3 times a day in the Shema -- G-d is One and Only. How do you know that He loves you? Because you are here today against all odds -- historical and otherwise... 2. If G-d loves us, why was there a holocaust? I can't give you a complete answer; I can only tell you that since everything that happens in this world is ultimately good, somehow this must be true about the holocaust but we don't know how and why with our limited ability to see past/future/eternity. Every person that I have spoken to that has been through the holocaust said that it was truly impossible to live then without seeing the direct Hand of G-d guiding and saving them at every second of every minute of every day. He does exist and He does want us to have the ultimate happiness that learning and actualizing Torah brings. There are so many resources for authentic Torah [not watered-down and fake theologies like Reform, Conservative, and other "pretend Judaisms". Avail yourself of them and learn, learn, learn. I wish you tremendous success in finding the endless wellsprings of spirituality that exist in Judaism and that other religions have borrowed from in order to entice unediucated Jews away from their religion.

(67) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 9:25 AM

The problem is not Judaism

The problem is not Judaism. The reason for the decline has everything to do with Jews. (1) Factionalism: most Jewish communities are broken up into various factions who do not interract (at best) or outright despise each other, (2) Ritual formalism: I have known many Jews who keep every chumra of Shabbos and kashrus; but, are elitist, arrogant, snobbish and completely unethical in business and finance, (3) Lack of derech eretz: Even when I went to learn in Yeshiva, I noticed that many of the frum students had a terrible lack of manners and basic consideration of others. I have found that in many religious schools derech eretz and mussar are not taught as primary subjects (perhaps they should be the central focus), (4) Lack of spirituality: In this day and age we need fire, vibrancy and love to shine forth from every Jew who calls himself or herself observant. Unfortunately, there seems to be more concern with business, mundane affirs and sports events, (5) Lack of common purpose and unity: Most Jews just do not seem to connect as part of a joint mission in life. We do not work together as one team and one unit to improve ourselves, our community and our world, (6) High price of Jewish living: It is hard to be a Jew. Jewish education is a burden that many families cannot afford. Cetainly, many that make the effort spend the majority of their time earning money just to pay for tuition. Further, it seems that house prices in Jewish areas tend to be higher than average and kosher food tends to be quite a bit more expensive than non-kosher food.

(66) Grace Fishenfeld, August 12, 2009 6:08 AM

Current Waves In Ancient Seas

To be born into a Jewish family and to experience the warmth and love that has been extended through its generations gives us comfort. Rules of diet do not transcend Jewish ethical values. One Jew who fails to respect and embrace another Jew is missing the link that binds us together. Since we are not Pagans and do not worship objects, why do we confuse method with intent? Jews intend to reach up and be grateful to God for all of creation. Jews recognize that we are responsible to the law of Mitzvah and to try to fix the broken parts of the world..We believe in social action and the obligation of ourselves to those in need.. We pray directly to God and need no middle person. Being a Jew is joyful. It is basic practical and spiritual. We have no fixed image to pin us down to identify Hashem. We are free to create. We have Jewish writers, scholars, artists, scientists and teachers who have handed down messages that enrich the entire culture of the world. We have such people today. It behooves us to recognize and support such people who currently produce and spread Jewish values and ideas within their work. Additional knowledge should be added to Jewish education. Our religion is not static it is current . Our Rabbis and teachers should become informed about works by contemporary artists, scholars, philosophers and writers. Ideas of the living today included in their lectures, stimulate relevance. The richness of the past, linked to contemporary efforts, with respect and openness to differences may be the clue to keeping Judiasm from being washed away and excitingly alive.

(65) Melissa, August 12, 2009 4:53 AM

A family felt by a convert

What I have been taught and what has brought me to the Jewish community is the great sense of family and love. When I met with my Rabbi, he was not judgmental, but very kind. He spoke of the great responsbility of being Jewish, but of also the great love and community that came with it. I had read of the basic beliefs and found my morals within the religion. Perhaps it is the reminder of this family within the Jewish faith that is needed. In my experience, the churches I went to used the "fear of G-d" to keep those within the faith. It seems in America, fear is what drives us, as sad as it is to say. Many do not break a law for fear of prision. Many are polite for the fear of being treated poorly or beat. The examples go on and on. Let us remind them what love is and what family is. How good can be felt just from going to a service and sharing the kiddush. Yes, it may tap into your saturday, but once one experiences it, one will only want to come back to their family and that love. I have felt that family in such a short time. I felt it just by walking into shul and now I can not imagine my life without it. A stress on this family will help. So let us set the table for one more and they will come.

(64) Abe, August 12, 2009 3:33 AM

To be or not to be? Is it not The Question? On the one hand, it would be very nice if the Jews who call themselves observant, will not only try to look Jewish on the outside ritualistically, but will factually observe the moral and ethcal Laws in their daily life (not like the ones recently arrested in New Jersey). On the other hand, how many beatings in our History should our people to go through to realise that there always be new Hitlers who will find the "Jewish blood" in the 4-th generation. The selfhaters can play political correctness and turn themselves inside out, but they can not change their nature. I would recommend the movey "Sunshine" and the books : "The heavy send" by Anatoly Rybakov(real surname Aronov) and "Generations of Winter" by Vasily Aksyonov(mother Evgenia Ginzburg).

(63) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 3:21 AM

Issues for someone who'd LIKE to be more spiritual...

I was brought up iby parents who loyally performed Jewish rituals without understanding them. I went to Hebrew School but was NEVER taught one spiritual thing about being Jewish! I learned to read Hebrew phonetically and we read Bible stories. Any spiritual knowledge I have is from readings I've done as an adult. Recently I participated in a Jewish-Catholic event where my group had 4 Caholics and 4 Jews sincerely interested in hearing one another's perspectives. At one point I asked the group, "Do you think God loves you?" The 4 Catholics had absolutely no doubt that they were loved. Not ONE Jew in that room felt that God loved them, or didn't love them! I thought that incredibly sad! Is it that Jews just don't think that way? I wonder...but I do know that I certaiinly hope God loves me!. A Catholic friend of mine (who is a wonderful, respectful person who is not trying to convert me!) told me that Jesus loved me. I asked, ":Even though I don't believe in him?" She said,"Of course he loves you! Just because you're you." I broke down in tears. - So perhaps some of us Jews "out there" might be attracted to some PR about the love in Judiasm...and how about some unconditional love? Am I being ridiculous here? Perhaps, but I'm expressing a need I have and if I feel this way, I'd guess there are many other people who feel the same way. Another issue (and I've read a great deal about this) that I simply don't understand is how/why we Jews had to go through the Holocaust. How did anyone who lived through those times manage to keep any faith at all??? If God were even remotely loving, could this have happened? What did it accomplish for mankind? Well, I've rambled on quite a bit here and there's certainly more to say, but I hope I've given you some ideas about why many Jews are disenfranchised.

(62) Keren, August 12, 2009 2:55 AM

Keep doing what you do best!!!

I think we all have to learn from the wonderful work of Aish, and R' Noach Weinberg zt'l, to JUST REACH OUT! SHOW THAT YOU CARE! We need to stop judging and start smiling and caring for our fellow Jews simply because they are our brothers and sisters. Aish is a wonderful tool to reach out and to keep others educated about their heritage. Let's all give it a try! Yigata U'matzata Taamin!!!! Believe in yourself and H-shem will do the rest! Our life depends on it!!! Let's follow R" Noach's lead!

(61) Edible, August 12, 2009 1:30 AM

Who is to blame

When those who complain about Obama's negative impact on them, and point a finger at him, there are three other fingers pointing back at one of the sources of the problem.

(60) shmuel, August 12, 2009 1:07 AM

we must teach our children about Judaism

We must do what the Shema instructs. Teach our kids about jewish customs and laws on a regular basis. Too many times we are coasting on our history. Our kids are not going to want to live a jewish life, marry a jew and raise jewish kids if they do not know about judaism. Sending the kids to Hebrew school, attending high holiday services and suggesting that they marry jewish is not enough. Each of us must step up to do our part to pass on our heritage to the next generation so that the census numbers in 2020 and 2030 don't slip further

(59) Anonymous, August 12, 2009 12:12 AM

Being Jewish has to have revelance for everyday life. Only cultural trappings will not take you through,especially in these times. Hashem has to become real to each individual. This is and always has been His desire. If God has to be real ; a God near and not far off. Religion never really cut it. It is relationship that makes the difference. IA big problem is that true fathers are few and far between. Some man (rabbi) can not take the place of the father being the spiritual head of the home and nurturing the children in his faith. Also when a certain type of religious expression is said to be the ONLY way to walk with God,this turns many away.I am not speaking of compromising Torah values but there are different ways of being that can be equally valid. It can become more about the outward then the inward.The American culture certainly helps to support this. What do you have? How much money and material things ? Who do you know ? Where do you live ? How big is your house . Do you have the right car or clothing ? Godly standards have faded from our culture and country. People are not focused on the inner man. There also needs to be that longing in the heart. Hashem says if we search for Him with all of our heart we will find Him. We must pray for spiritual hunger. He still answers prayer !

(58) Jerry, August 12, 2009 12:06 AM

Big Deal?

What is the big deal if one wants to think of temselves as a :"cultural Jew"? Why does Saomon critque that as being a bad thing? Sounds to me like the same nonsense that Christians use when prostelytizing. I am a Jew regardless of these conservatives spieling know it alls who tell us what is good and bad in life. Hitler wouldn't have given me any slack because I am a cultural Jew. I'm a Jew, pure and simple and I don't need Salomon or anybody else to tell me how to live or what I am.

(57) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 11:28 PM

Something to ponder about

I don't profess to have the answer, however, this may be part of it. I have been told by recent baalei teshuva who left the fold their reason for leaving was due to not being accepted by the frum community. They claim that the frum community is quick to educate them, but once they accept Torah and mitzvos, giving up a lot of their past, including relationships, they are left without a sense of belonging, community, social relationships and close friendships. Initially, I thought of it as maybe being just "their problem" until I started reviewing my personal history. I became a baal teshuva when I became shomer shabbos in second grade while attending an out-of-town Torah Umesorah day school. The irreligious in the class would have nothing to do with me because I was no longer one of them. The religious did not accept me either. Eventually, I got accepted after many years of sitting in class with the same girls. As an adult living in Brooklyn it was repeated on a different level. As an example, if any of my children misbehaved they were called goyim to their face by my neighbors while if their children presented with the same behaviors or worse, it was all right. No matter how much I would conform, the neighbors would not accept me even as a friend in their circles. I made it trhough because, from the beginning I believed and still do that Hashem is perfect and right as well as Moshe emes v'toraso emes; His people are not necessarily following in His path. Now imagine what happens to people, as young adults and adults, who did not receive the same extensive education. When they encounter non-acceptance into the frum social circles, they just want to leave. (One person I know tried four different communities over a period of five years before reverting to his/her old lifestyle.)

(56) Sylvie, August 11, 2009 9:29 PM

Another approach

It seems that the problem stems from the fact that American Jewry has taken into the "culture" where they live a bit too seriously. Jews have fought assimilation throughout the ages. Historically, within foreign societies Jews have been apart, a group apart since they were forced to convert in Arab and in christian lands. They preserved their identity by being proud of who they were. Today, American Jewry has found a loophole. i.e. conservative and reformed Judaism. They have remodeled and substituted the Law of the Creator of the Universe for a "simili" mode of living created to accommodate those who preferred or sometimes had to bend to assimilation. Lack of Character??? None is here to blame since once parents are faced with a de facto situation type of marriage, this can create grave emotional anguish. I notice that this phenomenon of reforming Jewish law has been mainly practiced in North America and has not touched Jews from other origins. Perhaps Americans Jews do not realize how much they have espoused the arrogance characteristic of the Anglo Saxon culture which boasts superiority and strength. Perhaps American Jews wrongly admire the "ethical christian American" values -which are in fact taken from the Jewish Scriptures and often distorted. The main fabric of Judaism is Irat Chamayim (Awe of Heaven) and that does not jar with arrogance even when it is sugarcoated in a polite American sophistication which prides itself of all too alienating individualism - antinomic to the love and closeness to the other Jew so present in Judaism. "Arevim ze la ze" Unfortunately, American Jews have diluted their natural Jewish humbleness inherited from their families' long suffering history to substitute it with an individualism which gives them that feeling of strength. "I made it!" Many of us will do well to review the first sentence of Pirkei Avot (the sayings of the Fathers) and not shy away from Mussar.

(55) Harriet, August 11, 2009 9:16 PM

As a Jewish mother of children about to be of marring age this subject is very near and dear to my heart. We need to try to re-enforce the beauty of Judaism we need to encourage Jewish pride we need to explain to young children and assemilated Jews the reason and spiritulity behind all that we do and observe. We need to reach out and make it more affordable to join synagog's We need more out reach like Chabbad. OR use the internet as a medium to make being Jewish "Cool" For some reason the neshuma's of the young are blocked and we need to unlock them before it is too late and we eventually become distinct!!!

(54) David-Ran, August 11, 2009 7:21 PM

How our young see our religion...

Advice? We must recognize that we live in a world where international and political news are flashed in front of us by various media constantly. Our young Americans are bright and CONNECTED to their democratic as well as Jewish roots. We must represent our religion as NOT being the Bnei Brak type, but the Israeli type. We must de-link ourselves from the far right in Israel, let alone support them. Our young are idealistic and are rightly resistant to rote following just because the rabbi said so. In short, Rabbi... We don't look so good, so we turn them off...

(53) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 6:27 PM

Say no to interdating

The problem starts with the first date. Let your children know you mean it! If they date non Jews or marry a non Jew, they have left the tribe, the family, and they are on their own. I know it sounds harsh, but once they intermarry, they've left the family anyway. You find yourself having to blend in in ways you can't imagine or even like so why let your children drag you down with them?

(52) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 6:24 PM

It is just too darn expensive!!!

Being religious is just so expensive. Especially for a mom, who may be divorced (like me), who needs to work and then to have to pay so much in tuition and on top of that the taxes for the non public schools. And believe me, so many others, who are not divorced, just can't afford tuition. I'm not that religious myself, but I wanted my kids in yeshiva, but not if I work to the bone and have to spend every penny on it. Even Jewish holidays, the stores jack up the prices of everything just before passover...why? Also, it is just so hard to be religious...it took me 6 months before I got a job because I could not work on Friday nights and saturday nights. This was in the nursing field, where they were desperate for nurses...in New York! And I was an A student. For me, it boils down to money. I don't want to be a pauper all my life just so the kids can get their jewish education. I aim to sell my house since I live in a bad public school discrict and move so that my kids can attend a good public school, and if my kids are not religious after that...so what...I don't want them to suffer like me anyway.

(51) ERROL, August 11, 2009 6:23 PM

Let the youth tell you

Allow the youth to tel you whats missing in their lives.this way we can personalise and custom create introductory programs that will allow true Judasim to fill the huge voids in their lives.Lets speak their language with no pressure or perceived embarrasment.The introduction must be gradual and must take place in the home towns.Israel and its importance must be slowly introduced,because as wonderful as Israel is it is not a good example of our meaningful religion for the uniniciated(I know I live in Jerusalem)When the youth are showing a spark of interest and can be placed under the protection of a religious organisation then they can come to Isreal and undergo a transformation that is sure to set them on the right and everlasting path.The fact that something huge mut be done starting now is beyond dispute,not only in the USA but worldwide,including Israel.Lets all do what it takes.

(50) Daniel Cohen, August 11, 2009 5:45 PM

We are all doing a great job

We are all doing a great job, always willing to re-think new ideas, etc. Aish, chabad, Ohr Sameach, Breslov,etc.. However our loss Jews have to also give it a chance as well.Our job is to never give up, save as many as we can... Shalom DC

(49) Chava Dorit, August 11, 2009 5:14 PM

It's the GALUT - let's LEAVE IT ALREADY!

Remaining in Galut is not helping the nation with the largest number of Jews in the world besides Israel. Now is the time for Jews to pack up their bags, come home to Israel -- and discover what Judaism is really all about. Living in Israel is the basis for all Torah. The more Jews come home, the more evident Jewish unity will become, and the more problems we will solve - together, and the more our people will appreciate who we are and what we're on this planet for. Let's rectify the "sin of the spies" - that is, we need to ACCEPT Israel as haShem's great gift to us as much as the people rejected it in response to the 10 spies' report. Conditions are still the same - there are "giants" in the land, etc., but we can overcome them with G-d's help. WE CAN OVERCOME EVERYTHING WITH G-D's HELP!!! The crisis, in short, has been brought on by the fact that AMERICAN JEWS ARE LAST IN LINE. All the other countries' Jews, for the most part, are home now; what's left is probably a million all told. America still has the most Jews in Galut in the entire world, nearly 6 million. In a country that believes in being proactive, I'm surprised that more Jews haven't thought ahead as they should. Israel is our future!

(48) Ephraim, August 11, 2009 5:02 PM

The schidduch system is hurting the frum world

The second you declare your intent for marriage you are subject to a background investigation in line with an FBI background check; if frum from birth singles are having a tough time getting married imagine what baal teshuvas are going through!

(47) DB, August 11, 2009 4:49 PM

To Aurimas (2)

God bless you. I spent some time in Lithuania and comprehend how much history you and your supportive friends are rising above. You are absolutely correct that non-Jews are interested and should be accommodated.

(46) tzivia, August 11, 2009 4:39 PM

what I just read

What I just read in the comments from readers is: 1) Jews are not welcoming to newcomers. 2) Jews are judgmental. 3) Anti-Semitism is intimidating. 4) Jewish education should be subsidized to be more affordable. 5) Jewish education emphasizes rules, not philosophy or spirit. 6) All Jewish women are similarly flawed. 7) Jewish men are hard to find. My experience supports 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7. 6 and 7 seem to be regional - though in areas where there are concentrations of Jews, "out-of-towners" may be invisible. My responses to 4 and 5 are, as others respond, a) If we all want education more comprehensive and cheaper, who do we expect to pay for it? and b) Most education occurs at home - do we teach philosophy and spirit or only rules? I have a question which will not be answered in this forum but is relevant: Does the survey indicate that the proportion of self-identified observant Jews is the same in every part of the country and in every size of community?

(45) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 4:21 PM

The unity of the Jewish people

It is important that we not denigrate any members of the Jewish people. The comment "dopey Reform rabbis" implies many things and also says something about the speaker. Are there no "dopey Orthodox rabbis?" Cleverness or stupiidty is not confined to any one branch of Judaism, and if you are Orthodox surely you know that unless all Jews are united Moshiach will not make an appearance. Try understanding other Jews before you criticize them!

(44) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 3:51 PM

The frum Jews need more inspiration

I think that there needs to be a kiruv element in frum schools as well. I was brought up in a Frum environment, and went to a Bais Yaakov type school, but unfortunately some times when you are born into something you are lacking in its understanding and/or appreciation. We are raised with this is the way things are done, with no questions allowed, otherwise one may be considered an outcast. I think if you want frum people to "sell" their product (being a frum jew) then they have to believe that there is a real reason why others should want it. You can't be a good salesman if you don't believe in the product you are trying to sell. There has to be more hasgafa in school curriculum, and girls should feel they can voice their questions in an open acceptable manner.

(43) David, August 11, 2009 3:46 PM

Is there a need for HaShem

I grew up like many Conservative Jews in the 60s and 70s. Mild to moderately observant. I got enough to know feel Judaism was important to me and the world. Important enough not to break way but not important enough to get too close. When I had children Judaism became more important because I wanted my children to know more than me. I became more educated to educate my children. We involved the kids with observances in our home and the synagogue. They went to afternoon religious and actually learned. We supporting and reinforced that learning at home. They got the basic literacy and used it. I have come to believe that is not enough. Greater immersion is needed. But, that is not my point. My daughter, 25, highly intelligent and educated believes in all the ethical principals of Judaism. Not because HaShem gave them, not because our ancestors followed them, not because it is inherent in being part of K'lal Yisrael, but because it is the right thing to do. God, any god to her was made up by people who couldn't explain the world any other way. Now in the 21st century we know better. So, she says, who needs a god. Just do the right thing. I suspect this is pervasive. Unfortunately, I haven't found an answer. Just posed another problem.

(42) Jacob Stern, August 11, 2009 3:21 PM

Various reasons

Indeed Jews in America are in assimilation problem. One basic reason is lack of studying our Jewish culture. Another reason is the fact that many don't live in a concentrated community like the traditional Jews do. One more reason is that many are born with minimum idea about their Jewish heritage so society influences them to drift apart from feeling Jewish. The solution is to start studying and enriching your Jewish culture knowledge, move to Israel or make ties with Jewish communities and friends and do your best not to be influenced by other cultures. Judaism has a lot to offer in a positive socially and self enriching manner and many Jewish caring organizations like Aish.com that would do it great.

(41) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 3:13 PM

remembering to remember

The world is very forgetful. To remember the first tv show the family together the rules defined by culture neighborhoods and faith struggling to survive 4 wars generatiions gone and a generation determined to control the above politically has watered down the impact each cultural faith had on America. Remember is the key, remember from whence ye came. Preciious is the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints. WE must remember all the pain and the roots .. they will never be disolved without great consternation by all the members. We can never diminish the truth for when we leave truth still remains. Liberalism has been the culprit to unwind a spring but the spring will snap back soon.. it cannot stay unwound. It was meant to be curled and useful. The force of man to straighten a curve will not change anything. Stop trying to stop faith. It will return. Keep the faith be the truth and the truth will preserve the faith I love judiasm

(40) Tammy, August 11, 2009 3:12 PM

Parents must model how to live, continued

It is both simple, yet difficlut. WE must be the examples for ourselves, our children, neighbors and friends. We must demonstrate an obvious pride at being religious. We must make it the only attractive option for our children while lamenting the sad state of affairs of the world outside. Finally, as I said before, we must teach our children not to have such an exclusive attitude towards others, specifically other Jews. Tolerance, warmth and love can go a long way in bringing others closer. When our children are so closed minded that they make foolish comments like 'she wears pants, she must not be Jewish', that erodes their respect for others. I always tell my children that Hashem made Jews of every color and level of observance. There are some who will wear jeans and no kippah, and others who will wear long black coats and fur hats and the entire spectrum in the middle. Only G-d knows what is in a person's heart and we are NEVER allowed to judge others, especially not by their appearance.

(39) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 3:11 PM

It starts at home, parents must model how to live!

I think a tremendous amount of prevention would occur if the frum people emphasized the JOY of being Jewish to their children along with tolerance and acceptance of others who are not frum or have different levels of observance. If parents demonstrated obvious pride and simcha, especially during the 'difficult' times and stressful situations in our religion, ie, erev Shabbos, erev Pesach, etc. children would absorb that happiness and would want to cling to that all their lives. They would also be magnets for others as they would walk around with a healthy and satisfied personna. The concept of 'Is shver tzi zan a yid', has no place in our lives. If, when we shop for our kosher meats, we always lament about the high costs, or how difficlut it is, our children absorb these messages. If, before Succot, we complain about having to drag out the succah and build it in the rain, our children will accept the message that being a Jew is just a pain. But, on the other hand, when mothers express joy that they are privilaged to eat only kosher food, which has the most sympathetic slaughtering rituials that take 'tzaar baali chaim' into account, our children will in turn sense that joy and pride. When Abba, builds his Succah happily, encouraging the children to help, despite the difficulties, Jewish pride is fostered.

(38) DACON9 (DAVID), August 11, 2009 3:06 PM

SOLUTIONS

1) STOP THE GHETTO PHRASES (yidden ) we are JEWS OF ALL COUNTRIES. young Jews do not want to be spoken as if they ae in the euro ghettos. 2) THIS IS ORE DIFFICULT: Jews think that to be observant you have to wear black hats/suits etc. THAT IS NOT OBSERVANCE. JUDAISm IS WHAT ONE DOES NOT AS MUCH AS WHAT ONE WEARS. otherwise we should wear long robes and park our camels outside the malls. 3) EVEN MORE DIFFICULT: rabbis must be able to speak clear without marbles in their mouth, even their hebrew is ghetto like. 4) RABBIS BRUSH OFF UNRELATED QUESTIONS IN A ARROGANT ATTITUDE.Rabbis forgot or never learned how to be a person to speak to people with warmth and care and compassion. 5) SPEECHES(SHIUREEM) INSPIRATION not degradation. Talk about the greatness of Jewish history bibliical history biographies of our warriors even modern day warriors. Spiratual warriors ,founding fathers of Israel warriors biblical warrior. INSPIRATION OF THE WONDERS OF OUR HOLY LAND, OF OUR PEOPLE , THE LAND THE NATION THE TORAH. HOW MANY LAWS did moshe rabbeinu bring down from the mountain? ONE SET..why do many follow 2 or 3 other sets of laws? MOSES bring those to us... ARE THOSE FOLLOWS OF OTHER SETS OF LAWS ABSOLVED FROM SINS IN THE FIRST ORIGINAL SET? CAN I CHANGE MY STATUS FROM A TORAH JEW TO A SECULAR JEW? CAN I SELL MY KEDUSHA OF KOHAIN? IS EBAY KOSHER ENOUGH TO SELL IT ON ? EMAIL:jewswithviews@gmail.com

(37) Layah, August 11, 2009 2:36 PM

Judaism is an incredible treasure that has been greatly misrepresented

You cannot "guilt trip" people into living as Jews. In a society such as here in the U.S., it's a CONSUMER issue, one of choice, and most Jews are sadly opting out. However, if assimilated or otherwise non-Observant Jews are shown the incredible beauty and meaning of living life as an Observant Jew, and it is properly explained to them the specialness of being Jewish, they won't PICK any other way of life. That was certainly true for me. Unfortunately most are brought up in Hebrew schools or families that are turn-off's to Judaism, rather than turn-on's. Fortunately the kiruv organizations are doing great jobs in straightening out at least some of the damage that has been done. I was brought up as a Conservative Jew and was totally turned off. I had no idea that Judaism was about both the most MYSTICAL, as well as how to live your life on a day-to-day basis. Also, we never studied TORAH, which is the key to everything. I turned to other streams, and even Eastern religion and Yoga. However, once I learned (thank G-d) what Judaism was REALLY all about, I was stunned. THAT is what is truly sad: most Jews, because of ther Jewish neshama, are searching for meaning in life and a connection to Hashem. They look everywhere OTHER than where their soul can truly be fed!

(36) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 2:16 PM

25% vs 75%

I have not previously heard the statistics discussed in R. Salomon's video, but I guess it isn't entirely surprising. I am in my mid-30s now and have wanted to marry a Jewish man for at least the last 10 years. None of my relationships with Jewish guys have worked out, and I am at a point where I feel like I need to get married soon and start having children, or explore other options like a sperm donor or adoption or even marrying a man who isn't Jewish. Marrying out of the faith was never even a consideration before, but should I really be a childless martyr just because there are no Jewish guys who want to marry me?

(35) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 2:06 PM

Ritual and rules have become more important than the principles and concepts

I had a Jewish education in which I learnt all the "don'ts" of Judaism, but never the "whys". Ritual and rules seem to be more important than the principles and concepts upon which they are based. We live in a world today where people won't follow rules and rituals just because their parents did. They need a good reason. We need to understand the "whys" of Judaism.

(34) shimon, August 11, 2009 2:06 PM

emphasis on spirituality

the crises in america is a function of lack of knowledge and spirituality. Unfortunately the religious sector is to blame for that. for many years the spiritual aspect of judaisim was sucked out and the people were left with a religious shell of doos and dont's that every one rebeled against. However since the opening of the knowledge of kabballah to the masses in the last 15 years, there hase been a wave of jews that are comming back to their roots (balei teshuva) and this time thrugh understanding the spiritual aspect of judaisim which I am part of. This is the knowledge that the neshama of american jews is yearning for .what we are seen in american jury today is spiritual starvation . if more and more rabbis will adress this problem we will reverse the trend. on a last note, if we will not recognize who we are or denay our roll as jews in this world, someone else will remind us who we are and not in a very nice way. the goim are our mirror when we misbehave spiritually they get angry and the the result is antisematisim .you see they need us to give them some of the light of haboreh .thats why hashem tells us you are OR LAGOIM

(33) Alix, August 11, 2009 1:37 PM

I blame it on intermarriage

and the liberalism of the Jewish community which does not protect its own interests. Yes, I blame the libs! They love to intermarry and denigrate Judaism. They have substituted the Democratic party for a religion and that includes dopey Reform Rabbis.

(32) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 1:32 PM

Leading by example

If observant Jews live their life in a positive way and greet other Jews with love and caring, the kindness will go a long way. Not yet religious Jews are a lot more comfortable to ask questions to frum Jews who are friendly and approachable. We need to stop judging and start loving.

(31) Stephanie, August 11, 2009 1:28 PM

Divided, but not conquered (from an Egalitarian Conservative)

I think Aish has provided so many wonderful events for Jewish people - especially young Jewish people - to meet and affiliate. Not to say that Aish isn't organized enough to work on its own, but it may think about events combined with other large Jewish organizations to bridge the divide within our own community. There are Orthodox who will not date Conservative, and Reform who cannot fathom being "frum." Men and women (who are just as important in this discussion, since they carry the matriarchal bloodline) may be divided in HOW they see Judaism. They need to have a forum (event) to come together for more positive experiences. I have been just as guilty as the next Jewish person for secretly judging people who practice the faith differently, and it simply has to STOP. We can't keep saying "I'm more Jewish than you are," or "You just don't get the modern world and live in a different century." At this point, we might want to focus on THAT we practice Judaism, rather than HOW we practice Judaism. With recent events tying Jewish people to shameful occurrences, NOW is the time to come together and work out some common ground. I have been taught in recent years that the Torah is a 'living law.' Therefore, it is an evolving spirit that has to produce unity and peace. It cannot be used to divide us any longer. We need to have a more conciliatory view toward one another, and we can no more afford to be biased against our own. This will implode our faith, and make us work against ourselves and our future. Don't give up hope - we are ALL Jewish, and NO ONE is more Jewish than the next. This special identity was given to us at birth (B"H), and lives with us throughout generations.

(30) ruth housman, August 11, 2009 12:54 PM

the identification of religion with being Jewish

Hi, I am not sure quite how these surveys see what it is to identify with Judaism, but I do perceive, among young people, perhaps something different that might be even more important, and that is an increasing sensitivity of what it is to be a mensch, or how it is one lives one's life in a meaningful, humane and sacred way. I am not sure it's so much about "religion" as in identifying with all the tenets that are on paper as to how to eat etc. namely kashrut and other laws that God finds most important but it is a knowledge of how it is to be a humane person who witnesses and performs the sacred in life, in all that he or she does. Yes, I do understand and totally honor the need to "know" our roots and to reverence who we are and for us all to have a sense of rootedness in a profound and beautiful heritage. I am also saying, if this is happening, I also see, in the bookstores of the world, a burgeoning spirituality section that has to be with man's search for meaning, and this I hope, will pull us all, through!

(29) Aron, August 11, 2009 12:53 PM

Fed up with being insulted in the shuls.

I'm a Canadian of Jewish origin &, to the best of my knowledge, the mentality in the Jewish community is the same in both countries. Over the past decade i joined 3 unrelated synagogues. In each one, hardly anyone ever greeted or approached me when I was in attendance. When I took the initiative & struck up a conversation, I was either snubbed completely or responded to with a curt, dismissive wisecrack. Recently I started going out with a Christian lady (we're both divorced). I made it clear to her that I have no interest in Christianity, a fact which she accepts totally, but I have no problem with occasionally accompanying her to her church. What an incredible difference in the atmosphere between the church & the shuls! In the church, complete strangers approach me, & are warm & kind. There is no trace of that sneering, cynical attitude that I've constantly encountered in the shuls. Yes, I know that a synagogue is not exactly meant to be a social club but, on the other hand, is it not disgusting that I am treated like an outsider by my own people, while I find just the opposite in my lady friend's congregation!

(28) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 12:37 PM

suggeations re. american jewry in trouble

Dear Rabbi Salomon, Here are some of my suggestions for dealing with the crisis in American jewry: 1. Parents need to take a more active role in their childrens Hebrew school education especially if it consists of only 2 hours 3 times a week. They should strongly encourage them to continue their Jewish studies after their Bar/ Bat Mitzvah.StudiesbyDr. Sylvia Barack Fishman of Brandeis University show that ones connection to Judaism and the likelihood of their marrying a fellow Jew increase incrementally with each additional year of Jewish education post Bar/Bat Miitzvah. 2. Many people become disconnected with Judaism as a result of bad experiences at synagogues. Many find rabbis and other members too judgemental. I believe a more tolerant and welcoming attitude is needed. 3.Parents need to articulate to their children why it is important to marry a fellow Jew not only for their own happiness but for that of their future children.Appropriate resources should be made available to help them in this difficult endeavor. Parents should not feel that they are "politically incorrect " or "racist" for having these views. 4. Advantage should be taken of available Jewish websites such as Aish.com and programs such as Partners in Torah which allow people to enhance their knowledge of Judaism in a way that can fit their busy schedules. 5 Finally, I can highly recommend reading a book entitled " How to get the most out of Judaism even if..." by Gil Mann. This can be downloaded free of charge from Beingjewish.org. It is an easy read and may be of benefit especially for those Jewish adults who fthink that Judaism has little to offer.

(27) Stanley T, August 11, 2009 12:31 PM

They're scared off by the rituals

If you go to Shul and don't know what any of it means, you're going to be bored stiff. That's why I think we need to start teaching young Jews that Judaism HAS the answers. They don't need to look at Hinduism, Yoga, Scientology or any other cult. The question is, how do we tell them - in an interesting, entertaining way - that Judaism has so much to offer? It took me 20 years of classes to learn the little I know, and I was determined to learn. We need to break through the barriers with simple answers to the questions everybody has about life. Editor only, not for publication: I've written something along these lines (about 100 pages worth). If you're interested, please email me.

(26) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 12:16 PM

I agree with Esther - reduce or eliminate the cost of Jewish day schools. I also kvelled at the line about Jewish birth control. Torah education is an excellent way to bring people back as long as it's in a non-judgmental way (so...eliminate "bad Jew" from vocabularies). I think the Pardes Institute in Yerushalyim is a good example of this, staying true to Torah yet accepting everyone's value as Jews and encouraging them lovingly to come back to the Torah.

(25) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 11:26 AM

The Truth

I am married to an individual that converted to Judaism over 20 years ago. We are semi-observant and have raised our children as Jews. To this day Jews that are born into the faith do not accept my spouse or children as Jews. This problem, call it prejudice or racism, is so severe that when one of my children married a completely non-observant but born Jewish individual his family would not accept the marriage. It is my opinion that American Jews treat religion as membership into an exclusive country club rather than a spiritual journey. I believe that the solution is to embrace the non-Jews into this religious family, especially those that demonstrate an interest in joining it. For your information, my children are the product of a mother who was born Jewish.

(24) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 9:41 AM

Jewish identity.

To day it is very difficult for a lot of Jewish family's to identify with being Jewish, the reason, Shull fee's are very high and in this financial downturn, it is very difficult for family's to go to a Synagogue and teach children, because there is little money coming in. The reason is that not meny synagogues recognize this fact.

(23) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 9:41 AM

Rabbis with sensitivity are needed!

Overall, the frum community makes things very difficult for the not-yet-frum Jews as well. We judge them and make them feel less than us. We need to put out better PR about G-d and Torah. We, the frum Jews, need to plant seeds on a daily basis. Frum Jews need to be inspired to realize that they have many more opportunities to reach out than they appreciate. The Project Inspired movies are good, even great, but the fummies need to see many more examples. My time was wasted on Tisha B'av when all I saw was mostly a rehash of what you presented before. The frummies need to be told of the less dramatic examples of kiruv, perhaps not the full blown sucess of creating Jews who are shomer shabbas, but also people at various stages of becoming more open to Torah and mitzvot. It is too daunting to assume that we can all create shomer shabbas Jews out of completely assimilated ones. I plant seeds all of the time. My results more often than not surprise and delight me. If you get in touch with me I'd be happy to share more details. I think it is also important for us to be very real with other Jews. A friend recently said to me, "I will never be as frum as you." I responded, "You will always be my friend. My goal is not to make you just like me. My goal is not to make you as frum as me. We are friends. Period." We must have relationships of unconditional love for our fellow Jew. And if we are not sincere, THEY will see us for the sham that we are. Rabbis have the toughest job because they are held to a higher standard. I do not expect them to be perfect. But they must work harder on their interpersonal relationship skills. Too many rabbis really trip up in dealing sensitively with people and the problems that they inevitably have. I know that realistically not all rabbis can be trained to be social workers, or psychologists. However, they can have sensitivity training!! And they MUST. Insensitive rabbis are some of the biggest turn offs to Yiddishkite!

(22) Folke Holtz, August 11, 2009 9:40 AM

Make a lot of Chevrot.

Make a lot of Chevrot! make Judaism attractive. Put more Ruach in everything traditional and move mkore towards a spiritual experience. On the other hand be more welcomed and inclusive towards the couple in mixmarraige. Do not view this as a problem but an opportunity in order to welcome new converts. Refrain from makeng it hard for nonobservance and the converts in nonortodox Judaism. Make them instead more observant by doing Judaism more spriritual strong. Refrain from those Rabbis in Israel who nulified ortodox conversion. Noone will ever have anything to do with Judaism if there is not love and compassion. By that you will not win them all but quite many, and the Judaism will grow to the highest point in history.

(21) Anonymous, August 11, 2009 9:31 AM

Be genuinely more accepting and welcoming

I know of an intermarried couple. They are very sincere wonderful people. The non-Jew very badly wants to convert. The non-Jew is really committed and is making every effort to learn whatever is necessary for the conversion process. From what I have been told more than one rabbi has made the process much more difficult than it should need to be. This is at least one case where a couple, who happens to have a child, COULD be a strong Jewish family that would put out positive energy in the Jewish community. It appears to me that perhaps well meaning rabbis are putting excessive obstacles in their way. It is having a very negative affect on the Jewish spouse!

(20) Mark, August 11, 2009 9:04 AM

Halacha and NOT Chumra

We base our religion too much on the practices which are Chumra based. So it always seems to be our religion is about saying NO ! DONT do this and NO ! DONT. We need to impress on people that things are permitted and not forbidden and to CELEBRATE in the rituals of our religion. DO we need to wear black and white uniforms in order to be frum ? And how can we seem to be approachable to thos off the derech if they percieve these clothes as a barrier.

(19) Michael, August 11, 2009 6:43 AM

who are we ?

I think the problem is that today's Jews don't have any clue of what makes them different than a non -Jew (besides some history). If they knew that they have a greater responsability, if they knew that having a Jewish wife is what will give them the greatest happiness because the Jewish soul-Dna is different , then they would be more careful. I think we need to spread the word to all Jews : what makes you different and why marrying a non-jew makes you lose that difference...

(18) , August 11, 2009 3:46 AM

Desert them.

Yup, I think they need to get scared... Sometimes a good fear shocker can wake someone up. I say, EVERY Jew that is aware that there's a G-d, and that is committed to Judaism, and lives in America, should just pack up, and make Aliyah. CLOSE DOWN THE SYNAGOGUES. If by then Jews feel that Judaism is important, believe me they'll come running to Israel.

(17) Ziporah, August 10, 2009 8:31 PM

Let's build strong Jewish communities

The best answer to the "Crisis of American Jewry"?: The loving support of living amongst fellow committed Jews. The key to the survival of American Jewry is creating and/or fortfying Jewish identity and pride in our communities. I grew up in North Carolina, amongst a modest Jewish population. My parents, from Brooklyn and Queens, understood and tacitly reinforced that assimilation and an understated Jewish identity were our keys to acceptance amongst the goyim. The antisemitism we experienced, on the contrary, was anything but understated! Upon moving to the Miami area, I first experienced what it felt like to live openly and proudly as a Jew...It's wonderful! My husband and I, both Baalei Teshuvah, now live as Torah observant Jews, committed to living and raising our children in a religious community (despite the exorbitant cost of living!). It seems to be a tremendous challenge to raise Jewish children without the insulation of a Torah-observant community, and expect them to identify strongly and enduringly as such.

(16) Anonymous, August 10, 2009 5:43 PM

Response to 10-Michael- better value

Admit it - The real issue isJewish men like yourself see no value in Judiasm. Have you ever wondered why there are Jews who place value in Judiasm or why Jews are still around when all we seem to do is cling to some ancient rules and rituals. It's up to you to find out. At least know what it is that you are letting go of.

(15) Rosen, August 10, 2009 4:44 PM

listening

I may be one of the relatively few young Jews who understands the importance of Jews marrying Jewish. I try to tell some of my Jewish peers who are in relationships with non-Jews that it will potentially cut off Jewish continuity, however, the difficult part of any communication process is receiving and listening. Listening can be a mitzvah, but people probably more often than not want to do what is comfortable in the moment and not doing what's right in the long run...Since I want to be in a relationship with someone Jewish, it may not be so easy nowadays since fewer Jewish families implement the shidduch system. Personally, I feel that intermarriage essentially eliminates the purpose of being Jewish, or that the Jew who intermarries is the last Jew of a particular family line of Jewry. It may all depend on one's Jewish soul and the desire to maintain the Jewish faith with the very least outcome or goal being a Jewish intramarriage....Now, what I may suggest for young Jews in their 20's and 30's is that they can join activities at the Moishe House where the young professional Jewish community can network, at virtually no cost - www.moishehouse.org. Perhaps the less the cost to find someone to date and marry Jewish, the more likely he/she will find their bashert either thru a shidduch system or at the Moishe House (the latter may be more informal since its aim is for general Jewish networking at events like game nights and Shabbat).

(14) Sonya Sarah Rivka Davidson, August 10, 2009 4:43 PM

TIme to have another convention

The split in American Jewery occured because of one meal and two conventions in which common ground could not be found. It is time in America for another convention, I am sure all three would be happy to get together again. That will lead all Jews to reconsider the choices they have been making.

(13) Eliyahu, August 10, 2009 11:05 AM

Sad but true.

The truth of the matter is, religion as a whole is taking a back seat. Whether it be Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, the numbers are plummeting. People tend to be doing one of three things, avoiding religion all together, indulging in religions with more of a mystical background with less rules and regulations, and or grew up with mixed family's like I did. My fathers family was Irish Catholic, and My mothers family was Russian Jews. Due to my mothers family's lack of religious practice, I didn't even know I was Jewish until I was 14. But unfortunately it is these time, I believe that religion is needed the most. I mean it is hard for American Jews to be religious, in a world today where it is all or nothing. When Jews can't get the Shabbos off from work, nor can they get the holy days off. Makes it difficult to be 100% religious, and makes you question if it's worth doing if it can't be done 100%. This is just my opinion.

(12) Sarah Leah, August 10, 2009 10:08 AM

Our safety net

When we lose our Jewish community, we lose our safety net. The protection a community provides are like the walls of a city. Within it, holds our traditions, our education, our culture, our family, our identity. It's our network that we rely on in good and not good times. I believe, by reestablishing our communities, we put Judaism back on the map. We begin to breathe life into dry bones. We build them back, one Jew at a time and those of us who have Kosher communities need to throw a lifeline to any Jew. Open your home on Shabbos, invite someone to study with you. Bake a challah for a neighbor. Reach out your community so it can grow bigger. The reality is, every Jew is responsible for each other. The whole Torah can be learned on the principle to love your neighbor as yourself. Community, it's our safety net.

(11) Mary, August 10, 2009 5:45 AM

Let people come to their own conclusions.

Google it. Look at what has been happening at the Jewish Film Festival in San Francisco see "Sparks fly at ‘lightning rod’ film screening of ‘Rachel’" and then discuss "American Jewry in Trouble." To me a lack of discernment is spreading. A person needs discernment for everything in life, including what foods to eat, poisonous or not, or gardening, what is helpful to grow and what is not. We would not leave a baby with a person who could not discern. They might not discern between hot and cold, between liquor and milk, between a bed and a stove. A lot of Judaism is about making distinctions.

(10) Michael, August 9, 2009 10:21 PM

Admit it....

Many Jewish men (myself included) think non-Jewish females are better value....

(9) chana, August 9, 2009 8:28 PM

The lack of observant grandparents makes it harder- good middos can make the difference

I am 33 years old and my grandmother is a cultural Jew. It was my father's grandmother who still kept kosher and lit Shabbas candles until she was put in a nursing home.She was part of the inspiration for my father to become a Baal Teshuva, bringing the rest of his immediate family with him. Most young Jewish people today probably do not have anyone in their close family who was really observant. This might make it harder for them to relate to religious Judaism. What could still help them is when religious Jews act with courteousy and tact, reflecting good character traits which appeal to the soul. This will affect people more than the best arguments because they will want to be like people who are kind and more refined and truthful than their secular peers. If each observant person could work on themselves to show happiness and gratefulness and patience, then that would be the best way to show that Torah is the way to go.

(8) Hector Miranda, August 9, 2009 8:14 PM

Lack of warmth on many communities

Many communities speaking certainly in general terms are not open warmth to others and between themselves. A lot of tight faces and snub demeanor. Jews are humans and as humans we all need warmth, acceptance and a less judgemental approach. Thanks

(7) Esther D., August 9, 2009 8:11 PM

You're right: you marry who you date!

I grew up in a city where there were virtually no Jewish people that my family associated with. So... what happens? You start dating and fall in love with the person you date, that's what happens. My mother kept telling me to marry Jewish, but there was no one I knew who I could date and fall in love with. Now, I tell my son and my nephews to date within the faith and how important this is. Will they listen to me? I don't know. But I hope they do. I truly understand the importance now, but as a kid I did not. My mother said to me while I was growing up, "To be a Jew is to suffer." I didn't want to suffer, so from my own personal choices, I distanced myself from my background. I had the choice to offer in conversation if I was Jewish or not. Maybe what my mother said was wrong, I don't know.... but when that is what you are fed all growing up, the choice seemed easy to get away from suffering. My point, Rabbi, is perhaps America needs to change its heart, because I see, hear and feel a lot of anti semitism. In this day and age, you'd think it'd be gone, but it is not. I'm going to go out on limb and say that what turns Jewish young people off into not identifying themselves is because of the response towards them from others. We all want to be liked and to fit in, and this is most important in the early adult years. This lack of identification is clearly linked to how others view us out of their ignorance. We have a long way to go to bring them "back to the fold." A strong Jewish community in all cities could be the answer to this dilemma. By the way, I grew up in Redondo Beach, Ca. and I am happy to say that NOW there is a strong Jewish community and identification there, but it wasn't the case when I was a teenager.

(6) Anonymous, August 9, 2009 8:10 PM

I too feel that many young Jewish adults feel very aliented by the extremist religious environment has has been become the norm. Where has modern orthodoxy gone???If they are not ultra-religious they are made to feel like an outsider. If they feel like an outsider then their attitude is why bother at all. Therefore, many young Jewish men and women feel rejected and subsequently give up. How sad!!!

(5) sharona, August 9, 2009 7:57 PM

Some good oppertunites that people should know about

sometimes people look at a nice article and enjoy it as a nice read, but don't really grasp how important it is to follow Torah and mitzvos. Mainly because sadly, they're taught very little about their heritage, and so they don't realize that it's not Only a nice thing we have, it's an obligation we need to keep. For individuals like these, it is good to have a mentor who will nicely guide them. For example, the organization Partnersintorah.org where they learn with someone on the phone or in person. This way we can build connections with each other and continue our legacy for generations to come. There's also Eternal Jewsih family that helps couples who are intermarried, become commited Torah Jews. - Education should start in the child years, but many have a hard time with tuition. Oorah helps with that and has helped many,BH. Any of us can and should reach out to fellow Jews, so we can unite as one

(4) Anonymous, August 9, 2009 7:36 PM

Eliminating Judgments is a Good First Step

I am converting Orthodox. I will say that of the many kiruv organisations, Aish being one of them, the one thing that turns many prospective balei teshuvot away is the tendency of Orthodox people to judge things as evil. For example, there was an article on this site about tattoos that was written in a very snotty and judgmental tone. This doesn't help those Jews who want to make a return to the faith. When people intermarry, often relations are cut off for a period of time. This is totally unacceptable and totally against the Torah to not accept your own children. You don't HAVE to accept, love, or validate everything they do...but regardless they are your children, a gift from the Almighty. All you can do is tell them how you feel (without labelling "you bad Jew" "you abomination," etc.), love them, and pray that they will return. Same with homosexuals. When someone comes out as homosexual they should not be asked to leave a community or made to feel a less-than Jew. I don't think anyone realises that when you cut people off, they go off the derech. They do not feel guilty and then come back to the Torah. They feel guilty and think "there's no way I can become better, there's nothing here for me." In short: offer solutions AFTER the fact. If someone has a tattoo, what should they do to make teshuvah? If someone cremated their relatives, what should they do? Do NOT just say it's wrong. It's obvious that it's wrong. How should one make teshuvah for an averah like tattoos or anything else? So, really, articles should go like this: description of behaviour according to halakhah, sources in Scripture, reassurance that everyone sins, how life could be better without this sin, and how to make teshuvah and return. Thank you for listening!

(3) Esther, August 9, 2009 7:06 PM

Make quality Jewish education free.

If Jewish day schools were free, many Jews (not just Orthodox Jews) would send their children there. Many families like being Jewish: they care about being Jewish, they like some of the holidays, and they would love their kids to have a stronger education than they had. But only families that are already Orthodox are willing to pay $15,000 per year per child for a rigorous Jewish education. (And among Orthodox families, the high price of day school acts as Jewish birth control, limiting the number of children people have.) To all the Jewish philanthropists out there, with significant sums to give away: how about opening up Orthodox day schools to your community? How about taking a thousand kids in public school, and paying for them to attend day school instead? I'll bet that you'd find the intermarriage rate among those kids would drop - from the over 70% average today in the American Jewish community, to the 3% of kids who attend full-time Jewish school.

(2) Aurimas, August 9, 2009 5:40 PM

Jews not interested? Goyim are!!

There is a growing interest in Torah study among non-Jews. I discovered that Torah studies and listening to Jewish rabbis can greatly benefit me spiritually and intellectually. I spend a lot of efforts studying Judaism and encouraged many of my friends to do so. Ordinary jews are certainly ecouraged about their tradition when they see that outsiders are increasingly growing to appreciate it. If Jews were more supportive in my efforts to promote Judaism among goyim, I could have achieved much more. Aurimas, Lithuania

(1) Anonymous, August 9, 2009 12:19 PM

Did the Halacha change??

Rabbi, you mentioned "20 years ago"...well twenty years ago we were sitiing together at weddings & other Jewish affairs......we were sending our children to Day Schools that were co-ed........did the Halach change?? Why are many events "separate seating?" This could be a tiny factor of why the numbers of people who would date out of faith be higher!! Where did the "gray" go....must we choose to be either "black" or nothing at all??

 

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