Thursday, September 27, 2007

Why Judaism is Disintegrating

The Nation recently ran an article "Progressive Jews Organize" the assumption being that the Jewish community through its places of worship have not been enough involved in social justice issues.

As we read in Our Yom Kippur Service from an article by Tony Karon "In a recent study funded by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (an important donor to Jewish communal organizations), Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman revealed that their survey data had yielded some extraordinary findings: In order to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a "personal tragedy." Less than half of those aged under 35 answered "yes" and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state."

In a September 5, 2007, article in the Forward entitled "Attachment to Israel Declining Among Young American Jews" appears the following: "One finding that Cohen, Kelman and Sasson could all agree upon was the positive influence of a trip to Israel. Cohen and Kelman’s study found that attachment levels increased dramatically, particularly among young Jews, after a trip to Israel. This confirmed previous studies, including one co-authored by Sasson, that had documented the rising sense of Jewish attachment among participants in Birthright Israel’s free trips to Israel."

So the solution for the declining numbers of those who consider themselves Jewish is to send young people to Israel. We have heard that from the "continuity" folks for decades who for decades have funded free trips for Jewish high school students to Israel which they believe will permanently attch them to Israel (Judaism?). It is my understanding that these trips (as well as so-called "missions" for Jewish adults) devote little time to a discussion about the discrimiination of Israeli Arabs and Israeli Bedouins or the treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. I wonder whether the sponsors of these trips are truly able to shield the participants from the extent of the social injustice actions of the Government of Israel.

By the way, considering that the "solution" for the last few decades is to send young people to Israel and there is a decline in those who consider themselves Jewish and since less than half of those under 35 would consider the destruction of the State of Israel as a personal tragedy,

as the young people say, "How's that working out?"

As I have stated frequently directly or indirectly in many previous posts, I believe that the Government of Israel has for at least 40 years violated not only international law but the core values of Judaism especially the one that demands that we pursue justice.

As I have not as often stated here, but firmly believe, the Jewish community, through its places of worship in the United States for the last 50 years, has defaulted in dealing with any issue that is important in the lives of Jewish people.

"More issues arose during the last three decades - women began to question their roles in society, divorces became rampant, decent safe and sanitary housing became les available, drug and alcohol abuse increased dramatically, the high cost and unavailability of healthcare services became a scandal, divorced people and the elderly began to be isolated, the public school systems started to fail, jobs were lost as downsizing became a reality, and serious questions began to be raised about the quality of our air and water. Those growing up Jewish looked for leadership and guidance on these issues – advice that might mean the difference between a life of dissatisfaction and one of meaning. In many communities Jewish institutions (Federations, Temples and JCC’s) represented by their Boards issued no public statement of concern or passed resolutions directed at any of these issues (although some Rabbis individually became involved)." For more on this read this article.

Maybe it would make sense to recognize that the disintegration of Judaism has been caused by two factors: its irrelevance as practiced in the US to issues that are important to Jewish people (not to speak of the "curse" placed by most rabbis on the love of a Jewish individual for someone who is not Jewish when they refuse to perform or bless their marriage); and the attempt to try to foster support for the State of Israel when what many have read and understood over the last 25 years is that the Government of Israel has been an occupier, oppressor and killer of Palestinians.

When will there be an awakening in the Jewish community in this country that if we want Judaism to survive we should have more Y2US (Youth to the United States) programs where we provide funds so that Israeli young people can come to the United States and participate in some of the social justice programs being organized by progressive Jews.

Let them learn what Judaism is and what it stands for.

No comments: