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A ll in the family

Reader comment on item: The Orthodox Future of Judaism

Submitted by Jon B. Rosenberg (United States), Feb 1, 2005 at 09:20

I read this editorial with great interest. I think the points made are all very interesting in describing the changing demographics and face of Jewish observance.

Mr. Pipes misses the mark in one major respect. Change....Just as Spinoza, the Holocaust, the Zionist movement, the establishment of the State of Israel have changed Jewish thinking, these and other events have changed the way the world thinks as well.

I am a "secular/traditionalist' Israeli/American. My parents were ardent Zionists who immigrated from the United States in 1948 to aid in the establishment of Israel. They had both grown up in non-Orthodox households,My grandparents were founding members of a Conservative Synnagogue. My grandfather was a career USA military officer (my father was raised Conservative/American and my mother Ethical Humanist). We, their 5 children, were raised secularly and did not keep a Kosher home until....the mid 1960's when we decided it would be a "meaningful" expression of our Jewishness (somewhat like Afros and dashikis were a meningful expression of African Americanism).

As the years passed we became more and more traditional. My parents now keep a kosher home, my father prays daily at an Orthodox minyan, and although they drive on Shabbat and still use the telephone etc. They now count as part of that 21 % of Orthodox affiliates.

Of the 5 children in my parent's family: 1 is still secular but at age 57 admits to looking for a more Jewish context to his life, 3 are traditional (Orthodox synnagogue members) including myself but are not completely Shomer Shabat, and 1 has become Heredi over the past 10 years. My Heredi brother's 5 children are all Heredi as well and includes 2 Rabbis and Torah scholars.

Of my own 4 children who were raised somewhat/vaguely traditional (kosher home but soccer games on Shabat, eat at McDonald's, etc) 3 are Heredi (One is a Rabbi at a Yeshiva in Israel) and 1 is in the US NAVY but attends synagogue regularly and says he plans on becoming more "Orthodox" in the future.

The point not discussed in Mr. Pipes editorial (at least according to my personal experience) is that non-Orthodox Jewish affiliation has not fulfilled the spiritual or cultural needs of the congregation. This renewal is in great part indicated by the increasing percentage of Orthodox affiliated Jews.

As a final note. My vaguely Christian neighbor and friend (she calls herself a C and E Episcopalian -Christmas and Easter only) has 2 siblings, several children, and numerous other family member who have all become "born again Pentecostal' and deeply observant Christians.

This religious revival is not confined to the ranks of Jews.

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