Most American Jews are orthodox. No, that's not a misprint, nor is it a sign that I've taken leave of my senses. In fact, the bulk of American Jewry is very orthodox. The problem is, they're very orthodox in their liberalism, not their Judaism -- and therein lies the answer to all the costly studies, surveys and polls commissioned by Jewish organizations in their never-ending quest to understand why Jews are assimilating themselves out of existence.
A majority of American Jewish voters had deserted Jimmy Carter in 1980, leading to speculation that the Jewish community perhaps was moving away from its longtime loyalty to the Democratic party and rendering obsolete Milton Himmelfarb's famous observation that "Jews earn like Episcopalians but vote like Puerto Ricans."
The 1980 presidential election, like the Nixon-McGovern matchup eight years earlier, offered a clear choice between a Republican candidate who was unambiguous in his support of Israel and a Democrat whose record was something less than sterling. Only this time, the pro-Israel candidate was the challenger, former California governor Ronald Reagan, while the more problematic candidate was the incumbent, James Earl Carter.
Is this the level of opposition that was mandated by our Gedolim of yesteryear?
The most fundamental question for this new Post-Oslo era is this: How could Israel have allowed itself to pursue the ''peace process'' in the first place? The answers are very likely to raise serious doubts about the nature of secular Zionism itself and its alleged success in resolving the modernity dilemma of the Jews.
Although it played out more than two years after the fact, the 1976 presidential campaign was overshadowed by the Watergate scandal, with voters still angry over President Gerald Ford's pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency to escape impeachment.
We left off last week in the midst of the 1972 presidential campaign, one of the more interesting in terms of Jewish voting behavior. On one hand you had the incumbent, Republican Richard Nixon, whose relationship with Israel during his first term was quite solid; on the other you had his Democratic challenger, South Dakota Sen. George McGovern, a leading dove on Vietnam with a not especially inspiring record on Israel.
In recent years the American Jewish community has been the target of a campaign that tries to argue that Jews are theologically obligated to support each and every green fad to come along. Several organizations have arisen in the name of "eco-Judaism," which is nothing more than the endorsement of the environmentalist political agenda in the name of Judaism.
There never was much doubt that Jews would vote in large numbers for Democrat Lyndon Johnson over Republican Barry Goldwater in 1964 - a year when even many moderate members of his own party were high-tailing it away from the GOP's outspokenly conservative standard bearer.