Synagogues Reach out to Young to Keep Faith; Numbers of Jews with 'No Religion' a Challenge to Continuity, Rabbi Says

By Stepzinski, Teresa | The Florida Times Union, December 29, 2013 | Go to article overview

Synagogues Reach out to Young to Keep Faith; Numbers of Jews with 'No Religion' a Challenge to Continuity, Rabbi Says


Stepzinski, Teresa, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Teresa Stepzinski

More young Jews are going to Jacksonville synagogues, but several local rabbis say challenges, as detailed in a controversial study of Judaism in America, remain to ensure that current and future generations keep the faith.

Young adult American Jews are increasingly estranged from Judaism, according to a Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life Project survey released in October.

"We definitely see this as a major challenge to Jewish continuity ...," said Rabbi Yaakov Fisch of Etz Chaim Synagogue in Mandarin, adding that "we are not immune to what the Pew study highlighted."

About 32 percent of the youngest generation of American Jews - those born after 1980 - say they have "no religion," but instead identify themselves as Jewish based on ancestry, ethnicity or culture. Meanwhile, 22 percent of all adult American Jews interviewed also said they had no religion, and that group appears to be increasing, the survey showed.

"Differences by generation are very stark. Older Jews are Jews by religion. Younger Jews are Jews of no religion," Alan Cooperman, deputy director of Pew's Religion and Public Life project, said.

However, almost all said they are proud to be Jewish. The majority said the most essential part of being Jewish includes remembering the Holocaust, leading an ethical life and working for social justice and peace.

"That same study found that the young generation is disgruntled with the so-called mainstream: organizational Judaism, the system. But the younger generation is seeking spirituality, warmth and a certain genuineness and they are finding it with Chabad organizations like us ... where they can feel welcome, warm and at the same time that even if they come a little bit, they still get a lot out of it," said Rabbi Nochum Kurinsky of Chabad at the Beaches.

The study is sparking discussion as well as concern in synagogues nationwide, including Jacksonville, which is home to about 15,000 Jews.

Rabbi Shmuel Novack of Chabad Southside said the survey "is a little deceptive because it's based on a certain dynamic which indicates Jewish involvement based on membership."

Chabad-Lubavitch synagogues such as Chabad Southside, Chabad at the Beaches and the four others in the Jacksonville area aren't membership-based.

By essentially overlooking Chabad, the largest Jewish organization in the world, the survey is "worthless," Novack said.

People participating in Chabad may identify themselves as different denominations of Judaism. Chabad welcomes them all, and is experiencing exponential growth, he said.

"Jews of all ages, especially young Jews, are coming more often. They are coming for classes more often, and for formal as well as for informal services."

Novack added that there is a frustration with the business aspect of religion. In contrast, Chabad offers a welcoming, non-judgmental, no-frills, no-membership and no-strings-attached experience, he said.

"You can just come and experience Judaism. I think it is something that appeals across the board to Jews of all backgrounds who want an authentic experience but who may have been turned off by some of the organizational aspects of Judaism," Novack said.

Chabad at the Beaches is about "50 percent retirees and 50 percent young people in their 20s and 30s." The number of young people is increasing. Many older Jews come for traditional reasons such as their parents or grandparents died, or barely survived, the Holocaust. Many young Jews share elders' values but are looking for more.

"They want modern relevance in Judaism," Kurinsky said.

The majority of Chabad Southside participants are young Jews and their numbers also are growing. They have an enthusiasm for Judaism which contrasts with the Pew study's message of dismay with Judaism, Novack said.

"The message that we are trying to say is 'lose the denomination.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Synagogues Reach out to Young to Keep Faith; Numbers of Jews with 'No Religion' a Challenge to Continuity, Rabbi Says
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.