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Default Judaism

The Jewish middle class is disappearing.

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Published: November 6, 2011


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Visitor Comments: 39

(31) Feigele, November 14, 2011 1:31 AM

Only the Upper-Class!

Most of the middle class can no longer afford Jewish education after having lost their jobs, homes and being deep in debts, so how can the poor class afford anything! What leaves us with only the so-called “upper-class” who can afford such luxury. I am not talking about Jewish home education but Jewish schools and Jewish temples. When I raised my three small children, I sent them to temple for one year, we had just bought a house and my husband, architect, just had lost his job. Putting my pride aside, I went to see the rabbi to explain that I could no longer afford the $1,500 per child tuition and if he could give me a discount. He replied, it would not be fair to the people who pay full tuition. Well, I really got disgusted but I was proud that I had had the chutzpa to ask. I have not turn my back on my Jewish religion, it’s instilled in me, as I was brought up this way, mainly by respect for my parents who could barely afford to send my sister and I to Jewish schools but still went out of their financial way to send us there anyway and for a Jewish home too.

(30) Kenneth H. Ryesky, November 13, 2011 4:15 PM

Gebrokts & Default Judaism

One item where your observation of the disappearing "Jewish middle class" is relevant is the eating or eschewing of gebrokts on Pesach. My mother-in-law's family always ate gebrokts during Pesach (at a recent birthday party for her, she and her sisters all confirmed, emphatically, that their mother always made matzoh ball soup on Pesach). In fact, my wife still uses her mother's recipe for matzoh meal muffins. But their brother, who moved to Israel and is now a rav in Bnei Brak, does not eat gebrokts during Pesach. And none of the bakeries that I know of in the New York area bake with matzoh meal for Pesach. My rabbi (who does not eat gebrokts) informed me that the bakers told him that they would be out of business if they proffered gebrokts to the public. It seems that everyone is trying to out-frum everyone else, taking on additional stringencies where none are required by halacha. This is leaving those who, 40 or 30 or even 20 years ago, would have fit in well with the "Jewish middle class" with no comfortable place in the Jewish community. Last Pesach I decided that someone had to be the one to call this gebrokts madness for what it is. I therefore refused invitations to eat at the homes of those who DID NOT serve gebrokts. Rebbitzin, do you serve gebrokts in your own kitchen during Pesach? And if not, then are you not part of the problem of the disappearing "Jewish middle class?" [You can reply publicly or privately.]

(29) Anonymous, November 10, 2011 10:07 PM

Middle class -- regarding economic situation or Jewish committment

When I first saw the title, I thought that htis might be referring to the disappearing Jewish middle class from an economic perspective. With the tuition crisis and the general high cost of Jewish life, the economic pressures of living a fully committed Jewish life are extreme, unless one is affluent. When I read the article, that did not seem to be the topic. Nevertheless, I cannot help but think that the two issues are related -- and the extreme economic pressures on the Jewish middle class may be part of the reason why the 'middle class' from a Jewish committment perspective do not move up the scale. Food for thought.

(28) Sandy, November 10, 2011 11:56 AM

Excellent, but think about this category of viewers...

Kol hakavod, Lori, for a very thought-provoking presentation of this issue. As I watched, though, I imagined how your video would be perceived by my less-connected Jewish friends and relations who happen to be unmarried (and some, but not all, don't have children either!). When a person doesn't see marriage -- to a Jew or anyone else -- as an important thing, how can one rebut the claim that it simply doesn't *matter* if one's children or grandchildren are Jewish... that the important thing is just to be a good person? I'm seriously asking because I've gotten into conversations about this with single friends, and felt like there was no way to bridge the gap.

(27) Steve, November 9, 2011 10:30 PM

You're not speaking of the economic JMC, but that's a factor to be considered.

I mean the socioeconomic factor--the fact that the majority of N. American Jews are solidly ensconced in upper-middle-class comfort & privilege. And, sad to say, they do not always act in a very welcoming manner to the minority of Jews who are "still" working class. If poorer Jews go to a synagogue or other Jewish venue, & experience ostracism & even insults by those financially better-off, why should they not seek out friendlier company elsewhere?

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