Your assessment of the future of American and Israeli Jewry depends on how you define the Jewish identity.
If you define it, as traditional rabbis are doing, by being born to a sort of halakhic Jewish family, the future is bleak. Indeed, the Jewish majority in America and Israel is increasingly being born to non-halakhic Jewish families.
However if you define it, as the Jewish majority is doing, by the results of a sort of Jewish genetic urge for intuitive Torah-guided actions aimed at making our world a much better place for everybody, the future is great. Indeed, our world is getting better through scientific discoveries, social progresses, economic innovations and technology advances, and Jewish people are the leaders here.
The assessment of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of AISH community is bleak since he, like all traditional rabbis, defines Jewishness by being born to a “pure” Jewish family. He says: (http://www.aish.com/jw/s/American-Jewry-is-Disappearing.html?s=mm)
The recent Jewish People Policy Institute study found that outside of Orthodoxy, fewer Jews are getting married, those marrying are marrying later and having fewer children and intermarriage rates are increasing. The combination of these three factors raises the daunting question of the future of American non-Orthodox Jews. Among all non-Orthodox Jews in the 25-54 age group, just 15% are married to a Jewish spouse and have Jewish children. Intermarriage rates increase the younger the generation. Among those aged 40-44, 60% are intermarried. Among those aged 35-39, it is 73%, and 75% of those aged 30-34 have a non-Jewish spouse.
The assessment of Michael Steinhardt of The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life is very much optimistic since, like a good Jewish intellectual, he defines Jewishness by Jewish actions. He says:
The last 300 years is the most enlightened — it is when Jews really shined. I would use the word superior, except people blanch when I use that word. But it’s really what I mean: Jews have accomplished so much, so inexplicably out of proportion to their numbers, in these 300 years, and it’s one of the great failures of Jewish education that that’s not focused on at all. The modern state of Israel is the Jewish miracle of the 20th century, but it’s the secular part of Israel that’s the miracle. It’s the extraordinary achievement, it’s the technology, the military, the development of a society out of nothing using Zionist ideals, taking people from terrible places and making them Israeli citizens. Israel has become, for me, the substitute for religion.
It looks like the non-halakhic majority of American Jewry is on the side of Michael Steinhardt, not on the site of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg. They are sure they are not disappearing – they are changing, flourishing, and advancing the better world for everybody. They are preserving their historic greatness.
However, many in the non-halakhic Jewish majority may disagree with Michael Steinhardt on the fundamental question of the source of Jewish historic greatness. It looks like Michael Steinhardt believes this source is the God/Torah-empty atheism. However, it is strongly believed the source is the in-build God/Torah-based guidance. This guidance is transferred from generation to generation genetically and educationally. Some Jews acknowledge it openly, and those Jews are called religious; the rabbis and synagogues guide them. However, many Jews prefer not to have rabbis and synagogues approving their actions – these are called atheists.
Many intellectual Jews are dreaming to see a friendly spiritual discussion between Rabbi Efrem Goldberg and philanthropist Michael Steinhardt with the sole purpose to find a common Jewish spiritual platform on the Jewish identity and Torah-guided actions in our Judeo-Christian civilization. The following two questions may be addressed at the discussion:
If so many Jews were not asking the rabbis for their advice, why the rabbis who are concerned with the future of Jewish Nation would not approach the Jews who call themselves atheists or non-religious with a convincing Jewish history-based message that says:
We the Jews have been successful because we have in-build spiritual GPS guiding us along the Jewish spiritual values received from our Jewish families and communities – with the help of rabbis and synagogues, if such help is needed, or without such help for those who feel they already know how to do it.
If intermarriage is a contemporary Jewish trend, why the rabbis who are concerned with the future of Jewish Nation would not approach the Jews who decided to intermarry with a convincing Torah-guided message that says:
Your families can be much stronger and purposeful if your families live along the lines of Jewish Torah-guided traditions and we the rabbis are happy to help you.
Anti-Semitism is rising in Europe and in the Middle East:
Germany: in an Islamic attack, two men claiming refugee status assaulted and robbed a Jewish man at a northern port.
Ukraine: a Molotov cocktail thrown at a synagogue.
Iran: Iran’s supreme leader calling for the elimination of Israel.
Palestinian Authority represented by its president Mahmoud Abbas: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we will not agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.
USA: Jewish home in a New York suburb plastered with six swastikas.
|Thus, anti-Semitism is alive and well as has been for over two millenniums.
Many Jews think that anti-Semitism is the intolerance and hate of the Jews as a race or even as humans.
That might be true. However, something more fundamental distinguishes anti-Semitism from any other racial hate. Any other racial hate exists when humans of a hated race are among those who hate them. Anti-Semitism exists even when there is no Jews among those who hate them.
In many Muslim countries, there are no Jews but the hate of the Jews is seen everywhere. In the 15th century Spain after all Jews were expelled, the hate of the Jews remained. In the 19th century Russia, the Jews were prohibited to live in most of the cities – nevertheless, the hate of the Jews was evident in those Jew-free cities.
Anti-Semitism is not just the intolerance and hate of the Jewish people – anti-Semitism is the fearful resistance to the Jewish Torah-guided ideals for the human existence. Those ideals are stubborn and they flourish in many places where there are no Jews – those ideals are the foundation of most religious, political or cultural developments in Western Civilization.
The fate of the Jews and their ideals is unique because, as the true Jews believe, the Jews are fulfilling their God-given mission of the Chosen, which is to help the others build a better world for everybody – a better world on the foundation of Torah-guided spiritual/moral principles. The others do not object to the idea of building a better world – but not for everybody, only for themselves; and not on Torah-guided ideals, on their own ideals.
Many in the historic past hated the Greeks when the Hellenistic empires of the Middle East introduced their ideals to the captive countries. However, when the captive countries freed themselves from the Greeks, the Hellenistic ideals were defeated as well. The anti-Hellenism had not been developed since there was no need to resist the non-existent Hellenism.
Many in the recent times hated the Nazis and Communists when the Nazi Germany and the Communist Russia introduced their ideals to the entire world and implemented them in the captive countries. However, when the captive countries were freed by the USA and UK (in the WWII and in the following Cold War), the Nazi/Communist ideals were defeated as well. The anti-Germanism or anti-Russianism had not been developed since there was no need to resist the morally dead Nazism and Communism.
With the anti-Semitism, it is a completely different story.
The Jews are hated since they are, as the Chosen, successfully introducing the Judeo-Christian ideals into religious, political and social spheres of human life. Those ideals are replacing the old heathen ideals and the contemporary heathen people resist.
The Muslims as a group hate the Jewish ideals since the Jewish ideals are replacing the universal Sharia-based dictatorial morality by the individual freedoms.
The Atheists as a group hate the Jewish ideals since the Jewish ideals are rooted in the guidance from the Supreme Power above, which is mandatory for the humans, while the Atheists want to introduce their own ideals.
Some Western Christians hate the Jewish ideals since the Jewish ideals emphasize the building a better life for everybody here in this world while the old-fashioned Christians are longing for a better life in the Heavens.
Some Eastern Christians hate the Jewish ideals since the Jewish ideals promote the true Western-type democracy over the spiritual slavery by dictatorial government.
The unstoppable anti-Semitism reflects the unstoppable success of the Jewish mission as the Chosen and the true Jews and the true Rabbis should appreciate this as a sort of sign of spiritual success.