I, in my bubble of optimistic self-gratification, and my father – mourning the potential loss of future generations. I felt the weight of my Jewish identity on my fragile shoulders. This is an event that took place almost two decades ago, but looking at today’s frightening assimilation statistics, it could have happened yesterday. Getting Back to Basics How do we practically go about nurturing a caring relationship with our Jewishness? Jewish educational institutions and community groups are the necessary lifelines that extend from our homes to our collective future.I almost became a statistic, except for one redeeming factor: I cared. We need to nourish ourselves with more Jewishness in order to ensure their success.So spend some time thinking about how important your Jewish identity is to you.Do you envision a life in which you are conscious of your Judaism, maintain some Jewish tradition, and/or raise your children as Jews?I was the one who adamantly declared that I would never marry out.Not because my parents were against it; they didn’t need to tell me because my traditional Jewish upbringing and day-school education were my safeguards.
It’s just too hard.” I wanted so much to honor my parents. Seeking Legal Counsel The next day I found myself in the car with my father. There we sat for a good few minutes, lost in our separate worlds. ” “Because it’s important that we preserve our unique heritage.” he replied, surprised by this basic question coming from me. “Yes, but what’s so special about our heritage, I mean, why is it SO important that there be Jews in the world? “Because we are supposed to be a light among the nations,” he stressed, wondering where this was going. “So, Dad, if our heritage is so special, and we have to be a light among the nations, and my entire future depends on it, why do I eat Mc Donalds, and why on earth don't we keep Shabbat?! Why would an intelligent girl do that to herself, or worse, to the person she says she cares about?! My heart was heavy with respect for my parents and the desire to please them. Why had it been so fundamentally clear to me that I would marry a Jew? There had been no challenge, no threat, no temptation. But now my exclusive Jewish education and traditional upbringing was on trial. I don’t really know why, but I think it had something to do with my soul. If we want the Jewish People to survive, we need to care about all these things, more than we care about ourselves. All the private Jewish day schooling, extra-curricular activities, tutoring, youth groups, social events, community get-togethers, online newsletters, dating clubs and support groups have a gargantuan uphill battle and built-in disadvantage when faced with the masses of Jews that grow up in homes void of any practical Jewish expression.
I believe this is the factor that can make the difference. We want our children to care about the meaning of being Jewish.
The factor that needs to be nurtured in our communities: caring. We need to nurture their Jewish identity to the point that it becomes innate.
Their children and/or grandchildren frequently do not consider themselves Jews.
The beauty of our 3,000-year faith, rich history and culture often ends within a generation of intermarriage.