A decade ago, Jewish parents worried that their children wouldn't marry Jewish or have a bar or bat mitzvah for their own children. Today, however, we see a younger generation that is marrying within the faith and looking to raise their children Jewish, while maintaining a strong bond to Israel.
At a time when Jewish organizations that offer Israel youth trips are struggling to compete with the free Birthright Israel experience, the Jewish Agency For Israel is working to boost participation even higher, the quasi-governmental agency told Haaretz.
A Jerusalem conference will unveil the initiative, a project of the Jewish Agency and the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that could ultimately cost $300 milion, in October. The target for implementation is early 2015.
Birthright Israel, the free 10-day trip to the Jewish state for 18- to 26-year-olds, is a great project. It enables scores of people to visit Israel, many of whom would otherwise never have the opportunity.
To reconnect Jews worldwide with their faith, Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, formerly of New York’s Lincoln Square Synagogue, founded the National Jewish Outreach Program in 1987. Prominent hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt donated $1.5 million to jumpstart the organization that helps Jews rediscover the principles of Judaism and learn how to engage in Jewish ritual.
Quick, what’s the fastest growing part of the Jewish community, or at least the New York metro area’s Jewish community? Orthodox? They’re growing, but not the fastest. Conservative? Nah. Reform? Not anymore. Reconstructionist? Nope.
According to the recently released study of the NY Jewish community, the group that has doubled its share of the community, growing from just 15% to a whopping 37% is [drum roll, please]…OTHER. That’s right, “other”. [Source: Jewish Community Study of New York, page 121].