Michael Koplow’s op-ed takes sharp issue with the Israeli education minister’s definition of American Jewry “as a religious and tribal identity [with] assimilation and intermarriage fatally threaten[ing] both of these components” (“Education minister out of touch with American Jews,”
In Koplow’s view, “American Judaism is more a cultural identity and a value system than it is a religious or ethnic identity.… For many American Jews, intermarriage and secular assimilation do not threaten this identity….”
In sum, as the writer puts it, he prefers an intermarried household when the children are raised Jewish and keep Jewish traditions … rather than a household where the parents and children are all halachically Jewish but do absolutely nothing that marks them as being Jewish.
What of the intermarried household where the children are not raised Jewish and do not keep Jewish traditions? Isn’t that the real dilemma facing American Judaism?
Moreover, the writer ignores in his analysis of American Jewry the growing segment of Orthodox, or for that matter Conservative and Reform Jews, that attend synagogue or temple throughout the year, some more frequent than others.
And, finally, does the writer factor into his statistical analysis the impact of Israel on American Jewry, particularly the thousands of American Jews who have participated in Birthright and other Israel trips?
So, while the writer concludes that what matters in the context of American Jewry is “doing Jewish” (whatever that means) rather than “being Jewish,” I’ll opt for “being Jewish” and feeling secure in the future existence of American Jewry.