What to do about “the tragic state of American Jewry”


Caroline Glick in “The tragic state of American Jewry”:

“The American Jewish community is steeped in multiple crises. They threaten its present and its future. The crises … are a product of another, more basic quandary. Throughout Jewish history, Jewish continuity and survival have been rooted in Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. Torah literacy … was for thousands of years the basic pillar of Jewish exilic identity. It was through familiarity with the Torah and its laws that Jews were made aware of their uniqueness and maintained their ties to one another, to Jewish communities worldwide and to the Promised Land.

Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and with the rise of secularism in the US generally and among American Jewry in particular, Zionism and Jewish peoplehood became more prominent focuses in the formation and cultivation of Jewish identity for American Jewry.

Likewise, the emphasis that Jewish educators have placed on Holocaust education makes it difficult for Jews to understand that anti-Semitism is an enduring prejudice. Today Jews are hard-pressed to understand that anti-Semitism exists even when there aren’t death camps and that not all anti-Semites are Nazis. Some anti-Semites are their progressive professors.

The hard truth seems to be that the salvation of American Jewry can only come with the restoration, at wider and wider communal levels, of the three foundations of Judaism to their proper positions in a meaningful, substantive way.”

Caroline Glick has presented a very precise diagnosis of the state of American Jewry and how to fix it – to rejuvenate the American Jewry spiritually by returning it to the three spiritual cornerstones of Jewish people – Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael.

Torat Yisrael defines the Jews as the people guided by the prescripts of Torah; Eretz Yisrael defines the Jews as the people living in the Promised Land; Am Yisrael defines the Jews as One undivided Nation.

The problem is that these three cornerstones of Jewish people – Torat Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael – are defined differently by about 15% Orthodox minority and by about 85% non-Orthodox majority.

The 15% Orthodox minority defines these three cornerstones from the belief that the true faith is based on the Fear of God and this Fear of God has to be addressed and mitigated by prayers and rituals.

From the Orthodox thoughts:

Every Jew has a real soul emanating from the Essence of G-d. If we just tap into it, we would find that every Jew at his core wants to fear G-d and follow His command. It may take effort to reach that core but is the purpose of Hakhel. There really is not any other way because our character and upbringing is very different and we naturally have an ego that does not allow us to get beyond it, unless we tap into the soul, which is really one piece of the collective Jewish soul.

If it isso, most probably the 15% Orthodox minority defines the three cornerstones in the following way:

  • Torat Yisrael means to study the Torah and derive from it the guidance for prayers, rituals and moral behavior inside the isolated Jewish communities;
  • Eretz Yisrael means to gather all Jews in the Promised Land to do Torat Yisroel;
  • Am Yisroel means to create in Eretz Yisroel the spiritually isolated Jewish Nation.

The 85% non-Orthodox majority defines all that in a completely different way. Based on their actions, it looks like the true faith for them is based on the Jewish mission to build a better world for everybody and together with everybody. That is what the 85% non-Orthodox majority is doing every day without or with some prayers and rituals – secular (hiloni), traditional (masorti), and some modern Orthodox (dati).

For the non-Orthodox majority, those three cornerstones of Jewish people should mean the following:

  • Torat Yisrael is to study the Torah and derive from it the guidance for social, political and economic actions in the Judeo-Christian world (in America and elsewhere) to build a Torah-guided better world for everybody;
  • Eretz Yisrael is to defend the State of Israel as the best part of the Judeo-Christian world and make it as a sort of the Chosen Country;
  • Am Yisrael is to create in the entire world, first in the USA and the State of Israel, the Jewish Nation of the Chosen – not to govern over the others but to work with the others on building a better world for everybody.

The rabbis have to understand the meaning of the three cornerstones of American Jewry as it is developed – as a possible interpretation of the Torah guidance, not as a violation of the Torah guidance, – and lead the renewal of American Jewry to change “the tragic state of American Jewry” for better.

Published by Vladimir Minkov

Vladimir Minkov Ph.D. is a nuclear scientist, published author and writer. He is the co-author of "Nuclear Shadow Boxing", a scientific history of the nuclear confrontation between the Soviet Union and USA during the cold war and is the author of many books on the Jewish identity in the Judeo-Christian civilization. Having lost much of his family in the Holocaust and finding his search for spiritual development stifled in the Soviet Union, Vladimir migrated to the United States in the late 1970s. Here in the USA Vladimir work as a scientist on various peaceful applications of nuclear energy together with American and Soviet/Russian scientist. After his retirement, he concentrated his efforts on the study of the morality of the Judeo-Christian Western Civilization connecting the morality of public life with the morality of religious life with the emphasis on the USA and the State of Israel.

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