‘We’ vs. ‘self’

‘We’ vs. ‘self’

Sylvia Barack Fishman’s article “Too little, too late: when Jews delay family life” (Dec. 23) strikes an alarm that American Jews should heed. She sums up: “the lived Jewishness of young American Jews has been transformed by sweeping postponement of marriage and childbearing, which often delays Jewish connections, as well as personal goals.”

She cites relevant comparative figures: 40 years ago, 77 percent of American women and 65 percent of men were financially independent, married with at least one child — upon having reached age 30! But today, a third of American-Jewish women and over half of Jewish men are still unmarried by age 34. In contrast, “Israelis tend to gravitate toward forming families.”

One underlying factor emerging from her analysis, in my opinion, is the exaggerated emphasis of today’s young people on self: self-discovery (“finding oneself”), self-accomplishment (in all other fields besides family forming), desired qualities in potential spouse as defined by self (no one is “good enough”), self-doubt about readiness for marriage or “falling” into a marital mistake, etc. In order to reverse this unproductive trend, American Jews have to start stressing the “we” over the “I.”

Rabbi Yeheskel Lebovic
Congregation Ahavath Zion

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