web analytics
September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



American Jewry's Outdated Orthodoxy

Thus what had begun as a mass public-relations scam — a sort of play-acting by insecure Western Jews seeking a method for making themselves appear more acceptable to the non-Jewish majorities surrounding them — eventually became an avenue for assimilation. For the new generations of Jews growing up in Western freedom and tolerance, there was little if any reason to retain their Jewishness. As secularism and higher education spread, religiosity diminished, particularly among the educated classes in which Jews were concentrated.

Once national identity and ritual observance were abandoned, there was little if anything to motivate retention of Jewish identity, whether religious or secular. The result was rampant assimilation. By the 1970's, large segments of the non-Orthodox Jewish community in America (and to a somewhat lesser extent the non-Orthodox in other Western countries) had ceased to be Jews in any meaningful sense.

This phenomenon was especially evident among young American Jews, as intermarriage rates climbed past the 20 percent, 30 percent and 40 percent marks, finally crossing the 50 percent barrier by the late 1980's.

The response to all this from the non-Orthodox was to dilute their versions of Judaism even further — and to hew closer than ever to the liberal party line. But if the ''Liberalism as Judaism'' approach served as the catalyst for Jewish assimilationism, from the 1970's onward it suffered from other problems as well.

First, there was never any real American consensus that ''progress, freedom and justice'' were synonymous with the liberal political agenda. (This was a Jewish delusion going back to the 1930's.) Certainly by the late 1970's liberalism had become largely discredited in the U.S. among the non-Jewish majority as it became ever more extreme and divorced from the American mainstream.

The civil rights movement, to which Jewish organizations had enthusiastically hitched their wagons in the 1960's, was supplanted to a large extent among black Americans by racist paranoia, radicalism and Afro-Fascism, even — perhaps especially — among much of the educated black middle class.

Liberalism in general seemed more and more preoccupied with things most Americans regarded as wacky or immoral, such as animal rights, homosexuality and radical feminism. Liberalism also was increasingly associated with affirmative action and quotas, which never enjoyed the support of more than about 30 percent of Americans. It was also associated with a sort of national isolationism and quest for unilateral disarmament.

In addition, liberalism was increasingly discredited by the failures of applied liberal political programs and liberal social engineering. Affirmative action had enraged the American majority. The unpopularity of liberal isolationism became increasingly apparent during Reagan years and was proved beyond doubt during the Gulf War. Liberal fads in education were increasingly blamed for the dismal situation in American public schools. Liberal social welfare programs were being identified more and more in the American mind with destruction of the family, rising crime rates, illiterate school children, and sociopathological behavior.

At the same time, conservatism was enjoying an intellectual revival. If in the 1950's it had seemed axiomatic that liberalism and the striving for freedom and justice were one and the same, it certainly was not so by the 1980's. Conservatives had their own program for freedom and justice that was regarded as credible by large segments of the American public.

The ''Liberalism as Judaism'' party line of the Jewish community was proving more and more anachronistic. Liberalism was evolving into little more than a parochial manifestation of Jewish peculiarity and provinciality, an endangered species outside the Jewish and black communities. Judaism was still being used by the ''Liberalism as Judaism School'' as religious artillery support for programs that were no longer regarded as just or moral by the majority of Americans, programs whose costs often outweighed their benefits, programs increasingly discredited by social science.

But the support by the Jewish Establishment for liberalism had never been based upon any serious study of social science methodologies and tools of analysis, but rather upon self-righteousness, compassionate posturing, and the appeal to smug moral high-mindedness. With rare exceptions, Jewish community leaders and liberal rabbis had no training in policy analysis, economics, statistics or accounting. Their liberalism was based on making themselves feel righteous and accepted, not on resolving real world problems.

Self-Defeating Politics

As long as Intellectual America was united in regarding liberalism as just and right, there was no problem. But American Jews had a uniquely vested interest in the preservation of liberalism, having intentionally misdefined it as being synonymous with ''Jewish values.''

By the late 1980's, American Jews and American blacks were the only ethnic groups in the country still endorsing liberalism in any appreciable numbers. In the case of American blacks, this was due to their continued belief that liberalism served their interests. In the case of American Jews, it was due solely to their anachronistic assimilationist self-definition.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “American Jewry's Outdated Orthodoxy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh (in blue shirt, center), benefitted politically - and in a dramatic fashion - from this summer's war.  Photo from Hamas victory rally, Aug. 27, 2014.
Gazan Deaths and Destruction Dramatically Drives Popularity for Hamas
Latest Indepth Stories
1347905461_5613_Mideast_Israel_Palestinians_Rosh_Hashana_05475

“these soldiers are on the front lines of a war that the entire world is fighting”

yesha1

Hayovel’s vision: to share with them (Jews) a passion for the soon coming jubilee in yeshua messiah.”

Tibets spiritual leader Dalai Lama.

Dalai Lama: In the interest of Tibetans today to have peaceful co-existence with the Chinese.

Hamas Quote on Death

However, 40+ countries still use capital punishment for a variety of offenses.

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

Ehud Olmert
Feb. 27, 2014

It’s six K, five K, four K, Graft !
(Daylight come and da jail’s his new home)

In 2012, an initiative was begun in the Knesset led by David Rotem (from the Yisrael Beitenu party), to cut the stipends and pensions paid to convicted murderers and terrorists by 50 percent.

When the Temple was in existence, Jews were religiously obligated to eat roast meat at least once a year.

I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.

In the past, the law school prohibited the singing of Hatikvah.

American non-Orthodox Jews are intermarrying their way into post-Jewish oblivion, and they’re doing so as a direct result of having emptied their version of Judaism of all meaning.

The Taliban is all too willing to obliterate anything attesting to ancient Jewish life and culture.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/american-jewrys-outdated-orthodoxy/2002/12/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: