According to the first major survey of American Jews in 10 years, 71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry, two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God, and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.
Judaism is in dire straits in America.
With numbers like this, if Judaism was a business, the entire management team would be fired. Bar none. To say its terrible would be a compliment – it’s even worse than that.
Rabbis, executives, organizations – the American Jewish establishment is bankrupt and terribly ineffectual.
Some top-line reflections as I sit in shock:
- The vitality of Jewish day schools and a thorough Jewish education needs to be made much clearer. Jewish organizations need to completely change and revamp their way of doing business. (They wont.) Orthodox people should be hired at the big Jewish organizations – and it is vitally important that efforts be redoubled to focus on educating Jews so they give a damn. (Unfortunate – but accurate quote from the director of the survey: “Older Jews are Jews by religion. Younger Jews are Jews of no religion.”)
- While this is an emergency, I am sure nothing will change. Scary.
- Can one doubt that the liberal American Jewish establishment is partially to blame (responsible) for these numbers? The “universalist” viewpoint of liberalism has only brought Jews further and further away from Judaism, our nation, and our people.
- The ten largest American-Jewish organizations – including the Anti -Defamation League, Hebrew Union College, UJA Federation, American Jewish World Services, and B’nai B’rith, should make huge changes to their entire operations.
These survey results should prompt mass panic amongst people who care. Ze’ev Jabotinsky said in 1937 that, “Jewish religious tradition is not an archaic object of our history, but an active pulsating power which exists today and will continue for all eternity.” Let’s hope and pray that this remains true.
Ronn Torossian is CEO of a PR firm, an author and a damn proud American Jew.