We shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that American Jewry is in trouble. We have been overemphasizing what feels good at the expense of what does good for the Jewish people for quite some time.
Allow me to explain.No, no, it behooves us to be "multicultural" in the "Canadian context" and all that blather, or else how will we ever demonstrate our innate virtuousness to everyone who is already predisposed to hating us because of Zionist Israel? (It's that kind of thinking that gives rise to, say, an organized Jewish response to floods in Pakistan.)
Many Jewish organizations have taken to pursuing political agendas that at best are distantly, and usually not at all, connected to Jewish concerns. For example, B’nai B’rith International has taken positions on immigration reform and Latin American free trade. The National Council of Jewish Women has spoken out on the earned income tax credit and the line item veto. The ADL has taken stances on same-sex marriage, immigration and reproductive rights. And the Reform movement’s URJ biennial advocated for “righteous, healthy eating,” health care reform and statehood for Washington, D.C.
While I certainly understand the desire to repair the world, spending time and energy on these issues doesn’t help us to create more committed Jews. If a group of law school students devoted years to charitable endeavors, their efforts, while highly laudable, would in no way advance their study of jurisprudence. To be effective attorneys, they must still concentrate on law. To be effective Jews and effective Jewish organizations, we have to concentrate on specifically Jewish matters.
Some might argue that we can both advocate for political positions and inspire Jews to be more committed. That’s just not happening. A multitude of studies demonstrates how non-Orthodox Jews are becoming less and less involved in Jewish life. Very simply, too many Jews are becoming citizens of the world at the expense of being committed citizens of their Jewish community...