In a sense, Orthodox Jewry in the United States operates on two tracks. There is the leadership track, normally comprised of rabbinical figures and lay persons, which is experiencing a serious deficit. At the same time, there is the rank and file of Orthodox life – and in this respect, the news is quite good. The rabbinic deficit is compensated to an extent by our reliance on the inspiration provided by the great Torah leaders who gave direction to our community in the post-Holocaust years. It perhaps should not be surprising that there has been a serious decline; it takes a number of generations until rabbinic leadership develops fully in a particular community.
When we look at the ordinary routine of Orthodox life, the quiet devotion of many families and the heavy emphasis on Torah study, what seems to emerge is a religious society in which the whole is greater than the parts. We must not dismiss as inconsequential what is lacking in our religious life, yet what is lacking does not detract from the reality that in important ways this is the best of times for our people.
About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick is president of the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. He has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years.
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