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Thursday, October 03, 2013 

Changes in American Jewry that aren't for the better

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 Jews in America say they no longer feel any attachment to the similarly named religion. But the most galling part comes at the end of this article:
Perhaps the most important discovery lies in a little detail about how Jews see themselves. The following data point reveals just how far Jews have come in the U.S., not only in terms of their own position, but in terms of their ability to think critically and compassionately about other minorities: “Jews think several other minority groups face more discrimination than they do.” More than 70 percent of respondents said gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination in American society, and an equal number recognized that Muslims are also discriminated against. But fewer than half—only 43 percent—said they believe Jews face a lot of discrimination.
They may have left religion, but not their leftist politics. I have a hunch that, if this polling has any meat to it, they would never even dare suggest Muslims would discriminate against gays and lesbians.

The poll says that Orthodox Judaism could be growing in the USA. Unfortunately, this poll overlooks something that, as any realist would admit, is not good news: the "Orthodox" they speak of could very easily include Haredis like Satmar, Bobov, Skver, and even, worst of all, Neturei Karta. If there's anybody allegedly Orthodox who could be especially negative towards Israel, it's them. Why, they could even be the exact reason why anybody left the Orthodox stream, as their isolationist, negative-to-women/abuse victims approach can make abundantly clear. After reading about what some former members went through, I can't blame most defects for becoming disillusioned with Judaism. Even non-Haredi Orthodox aren't saints and have made terrible mistakes that could rightly or wrongly discourage people from religion. They have a chance to change that, and they'd be advised to do so ASAP.

An interesting find in the polling also says that:
According to the Pew results, among those who define themselves as Jews by religion, just over half consider Jewish identity “a matter of ancestry and culture,” with a majority considering belief in God to be unnecessary to be considered a Jew. Belief in Jesus as the messiah, however, still constitutes a disqualification for being described as Jewish for most respondents.

Among those polled as a whole, 62% said “being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and culture,” as opposed to only 15% who considered it a “matter of religion.”
If this means they feel their race should come first and their religion second, that's actually a worthy way of viewing things. Personally, even I've pondered that a sufficient distinction is needed even on matters of being of the Jewish race and its founding religion.

Unfortunately, going back to an earlier point, some of the pollees have a very poor grasp of reality:
Seven in 10 Jews said they considered themselves either very or somewhat attached to Israel, and over 40% of Jews surveyed stated that they had visited the Jewish state.

However, just under 40% consider Israel to be making “sincere” efforts in making peace with the Palestinian Authority.
Not the other way around? In that case, I'm almost wondering if I should really care about people who think Islamofascists are even remotely worth concern.

And again, based on what I've stated above, for anyone who considers Orthodoxy the most recommended sect, is this good news that it could be growing in the USA? The sad answer is "no". The Satmar, to name but some, are giving Judaism/Orthodoxy a bad name, abusing tax dollars and villifying victims of child abuse, proving to be potentially worse than the Reform. It's kind of ironic that the Satmar may not like the company of the Reform and vice-versa, because their opinions on Israel coincide. I suppose that's the only good part of all this, that their dislike for each other's MOs might be what keeps them from collaborating in their efforts to delegitimize Israel. Then again, it would surely be naive to think they couldn't.

Update: on the plus side, rabbi David Eliezrie from Orange County, California, says that the Chabad movement's network of synagogues are growing, and visitors even include non-Orthodox. There's also a legitimate argument that Pew's polling may be skewed the wrong way.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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