After reading the articles on the Pew study about the state of American Jewry and how slowly secular Jews are disappearing, I also read about the passing of Rabbi Ovadia Josef (“What Pews Does — And Doesn’t — Tell Us, Oct. 11, “A ‘Gaon’ In Every Sense,” Oct. 11).
For years, the Jewish community and synagogue leaders have fought the trend of dropping membership and attendance. Now the Pew study provides an answer (“Jews Serious When It Comes To Humor,” Oct. 11).
Brain drain and the gap between rich and poor are internal dangers to Israel.
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While most Jews around the world took pride in the recent news that three co-religionists had won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and that two were from the Jewish state, the bittersweet reality is that those two winners left Israel long ago to do their research, and therein lies a troubling trend.
Listening to Ruth Calderon speak at my synagogue last week, I felt sad, once again, about something that has been lacking for a long time in the Jewish community in Israel and the United States: an easy familiarity with the texts of our tradition. The good news is that Calderon, a Knesset member, has made it a mission of her life to reacquaint Jews with those texts. Given her charm and erudition, she seems to be well on her way.
After more than 15 years as a pulpit rabbi, perhaps the wisest comment I have seen about synagogue life comes from a monastery. In her lovely memoir, “The Cloister Walk,” about her time in a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, Kathleen Norris writes:
As we prepare to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, there is a near unanimous consensus among scientists that the world is getting hotter at an alarming pace and that human beings have had something to do with it. A just-released report by a select United Nations panel leaves little to speculation, stating, “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
The recently released study of the American Jewish community by the prestigious Pew Research Center points to some serious problems in the Conservative movement. The survey reveals declining membership and the inability of the movement to retain its young people. As a rabbi who has been leading free, walk-in High Holy Day services for young Jews for the last 10 years, and as a Talmud professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, I want to make some suggestions to keep the movement robust.
Editor's Note: 5774 will be a special treat for online readers of "Sabbath Week." The Jewish Week is thrilled to bring our weekly Torah commentary together with artist Archie Rand's "Chapter Paintings:" one accompanies, illustrates and illuminates every Torah portion. The art will be available first on the Jewish Week's homepage slide carousel, and then on our Arts page carousel... that is, until the next week, when the next portion, painting and dvar Torah take their turn. Read more about the artist and his work here.