How do you convince a young generation of Jews increasingly detached from their past that connecting to their heritage and community is important and beneficial – to their fellow Jews and to themselves?
“We can’t coerce or guilt them,” noted Jack Ukeles, a consultant on policy-oriented research studies for a number of Jewish communities around the country.
The dozen or so communal leaders and academics around the table on Monday night, at the last of a four-part series of conversations on Jewish Peoplehood, nodded, almost glumly, it seemed.
A population shift of dramatic proportions is changing the face of New York's Jewish community as Russians and the Orthodox (many of them poor) now comprise nearly four in 10 Jews in New York City, according to the 2002 New York Jewish Community Study.
While the overall Jewish population in the city, Long Island and Westchester has remained stable in the last decade at 1.4 million, the makeup of the 643,000 households in which they live is radically different than in 1991, suggesting major changes in the city's political landscape and the Jewish community's funding priorities.
Suddenly in Jewish Westchester, land of spacious homes and ample backyards, nothing seems to fit.
Westchesterís Jews, once limited by upper-crust restrictions, are experiencing a 40-percent population surge in the past 10 years, only to find that their infrastructure of schools and shuls now seems too small, tight around the seams.