The Pew Research Center’s “A Portrait of Jewish Americans” portrays a community in existentially threatening dysfunction.Some of the numbers are already well-known: Intermarriage rates have climbed from the once-fear-inducing 52 percent of the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey to 58 percent among recently married Jews on the whole.But those, of course, were precisely the wrong moves.
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There are theological, moral, intellectual, and “lifestyle” reasons for that.
For those people for whom Orthodoxy was not an option, it was Conservative Judaism that offered a vision of Jewish communities colored by reverence for classical Jewish learning and for Jewish tradition, even if with a somewhat looser adherence to its particulars.
Non-Orthodox Judaism is simply disappearing in America.
Judaism has long been a predominantly content-driven, rather than a faith-driven enterprise, but we now have a generation of Jews secularly successful and well-educated, but so Jewishly illiterate that nothing remains to bind them to their community or even to a sense that they hail from something worth preserving.
They expected less of their congregations, reduced educational demands, and offered sanitized worship reconfigured to meet the declining knowledge levels of their flocks.