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WHO IS LIGHTING CANDLES FRIDAY NITE?

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by Carol Herman (United States), Jan 26, 2005 at 17:58

Your article portrays a "funny" count. Because "candle lighting" is way, way down. How old am I? 65. And, yes, I went to an elementary school Yeshiva. Why? Because my dad was terrified at what the Holocaust had done. (He lost his sister, her husband, and her 3 young boys). And, even though he threw his own orthodoxy overboard when he came to America, alone, at age 15 ... As I said, my parents sacrificed to send me to The Yeshiva of Flatbush.


Do I practice? No. Do I belong to a temple? No. Was my own son Bar Mitzvahed? Yes. My mom and I sent him for a six week tour of Israel when he turned 13. His Bar Mitzvah, in Jerusalem, was included. (He was one of the few youngsters who didn't smoke cigarettes.) And, it didn"t sway him to even look up Hillel when he went to college.


His dad, on the other hand, married a Phillipino woman. And, both his children; a boy and a girl, had very fancy, reform Bar/Bat Mitzvahs. And, does this rub off as "religion?" No.


But when Jews today "identify" at all ... they identify, oddly enough, with the European Jews who made something of themselves in America. The ones who excelled enough to go into science. Or law. And, who climbed to the top of their professions. So Einstein may remain a bigger Jewish identity than the orthodox. But it was the orthodox men, remember, who married the non Jews , here in the States. This I saw a lot of! And, it comes with the territory of WEALTH ... Just as Donald Trump proves ... as he walked down the aisle of an Episcopalian Church. With a magnificent, and much younger woman, on his arm, for a bride.


Are there signs that a cultural shift has taken place? Yes. Every time I walk into a supermarket, the Jewish foods section shrinks some more. And, today's comedians don't have the edge of the old Jewish stock. But then, when doctors I knew rolled up their sleeves, I saw the nazi tattoos on their arms.


Again, IF religion is a GROUP practice ... then we just don't live within those large families, anymore. You know, I remember parents who destroyed themselves, sitting shiva for young men and women who married out. I even remember back to the days when churches refused to sanctify unions between Jews, and their congregants who dreamt of church weddings.


It's very possible up ahead that there won't be much to show for what had been real choices? I did get that from your article. (And, I laughed at the reform synogogue where so many shiksas were more "into" symbolic gestures of faith, than any Jewish women I knew.)


But, ya know, Jews were migrating to America for a long time. And, so many, "to belong," chose Episcopalian, over other choices. For the friendships. That can take place in smaller communities, where people go ... to ... well "belong." But collecting a Minyan? Where? And, if friendships blossom all over the map; even if orthodoxy remains the haven for Jews who want to experience faith ... You're telling me that you won't get branches?


If the Christian Reformation proves anything; it proves that faith tends to survive in small pockets of FREEDOM. Without a Pope. Doesn't that lesson count for points, too?

CAROL HERMAN, San Marino, CA
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