For once, Jews are short on alarmism

From Jonathan S. Tobin:

While it is likely that most American Jews have little sympathy for the Netanyahu government, Lauder was dead wrong to blame Israel. One need only read the last major demographic study—the Pew Survey’s 2013 “Portrait of Jewish Americans” to understand the toll that assimilation and intermarriage have taken on Jewish identity in this country. The declining sense of Jewish peoplehood is the result of a lack of Jewish education, as well as a product of living in a free country where Jews are accepted in every sector of life. The implosion of non-Orthodox Jewry would happen even if Israel’s government was doing everything its liberal American critics were demanding.


Yoffie is right that Bennett may not fully comprehend the complexity of American Jewish life and its problems. Nor is he the right person to deliver the message of an Israeli offer of help. But I still think he has a better grasp of the situation than most of those who are speaking about the problem these days. He is at least talking about addressing a crisis, while most U.S. Jews are pretending that everything is just fine.

The most disappointing thing about the Pew Survey was not so much its findings that detailed the shocking decline in American Jewish interest in the essential elements of Jewish identity, like religion and Israel. Rather, it was the determined complacency of the main institutions of Jewish life to what Pew told us.

Love it or hate it, (and we Jews should love it) Israel will be OK. But what about American Jews? Our enemies devote most of their waking hours to destroy us. They can't do it. Although many have tried, nobody has ever been able to rid the world of Jews. But now, compared to the horrors our ancestors went through, we have it pretty easy. We've become complacent. Will this complacency cause the non-Orthodox branches of American Judaism to just fade away?

We hope not.