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The surprising future for American Orthodox Judaism



"The greatest uncertainty in demographic predictions of American Judaism was the prominent notion of the 1950s that orthodoxy would die out. There were only a few core societies and scattered enclaves of Jews around America who were seriously aware. . "

A legal professor at Columbia Law School since 1

974, Richard Stone is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Great American Jewish Organizations and a venture capitalist who primarily invests in Israel.

"Most Jews who would have identified as orthodox at that time were not seriously aware. For many, orthodoxy was more social than a religious category. Most immigrants who came to orthodox in the great wave that emerged between the turn of the century and the 1920s, did not establish serious orthodox education systems for their children.

"The vast majority of these children, although identified as orthodox, were slightly different in actual practice from Jews who identified themselves with the liberal churches . In one generation, most descendants of Orthodox immigrants made the easy transition to the Reform or Conservative. There were stigmas suggested by the term Orthodox, which related to issues of class, wealth, Americanization, and obsolete, unintended behavior.

"The influx of Holocaust refugees greatly strengthened the existing Orthodox infrastructure. Orthodox societies began to grow and overcome the resistance to orthodoxy that had prevailed in the American-Jewish community. Jewish day schools where children could receive a serious Jewish education text, grew at great speed in both modern and haredi society.

"This drastically changed the previous odds of preserving orthodox in a new generation of American raised children. By the 1960s, there were critical masses of real orthodox Jews of many different stripes. The need and the tendency of the Orthodox communities to concentrate on their own geographical locations created Orthodox neighborhoods, primarily in New York and the surrounding areas, but also in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver and even in unpredictable places like Memphis , Tennessee, Savannah and ultimately Los Angeles and others.

"The arrival and destination of the refugees was the original catalyst for this demographic surprise. Another important factor was Israel's growing viability which inspired even the Jews who did not yet call themselves Zionists.

" Worldwide Jewish saw an extraordinary moment where Israel emerged triumphantly from "6-day war." This intensified pride in being Jewish, facilitating the ability of the American Jewish community to recognize that the strong Jewish religious identity was not an obstacle to other aspirations.


It turned out that many orthodox Jews with minimal secular education were extremely successful in a number of other companies. There is now a class of haredi orthodox billionaires and one hundred millionaires much larger than commonly known.
"In the 60s and early 70s, a legitimate introduction of ethnicity developed outside the Jewish community, while at the same time the stereotypes of the definition of American aristocracy broke down. of Jewish identity and facilitating an increase in Jewish compliance, at least at the more modern end of the Orthodox spectrum, this evolution of American society also opened the door to a surprising number of secular American Jews seeking spirituality by becoming orthodox .

"At the same time, modern orthodox society at large schools attended significant numbers and flourished professionally and economically. In the 1970s, the Orthodox was by no means an obstacle to success in the professions or in the companies which graduates of outstanding secular institutions of higher education tend to be populated.

"Even more significantly, in Orthodox communities, refugees and children of refugees have begun to gather serious wealth without the traditional education profile. Much of this wealth was due to the large increase in property values ​​over the past fifty years throughout the New York metropolitan area. It also emerged that many orthodox Jews with minimal secular education were extremely successful in a number of other companies, now a class of haredi orthodox billionaires and one hundred millionaires far greater than commonly known.

"A dramatic result of The wealth accumulated in the Orthodox Orthodox community is that thousands of Jewish men are studying in Yeshivas full time for much longer periods than ever before. [Illustration] Hareidi-religious Jews in Manhattan

Flash 90

"There is now a multi-faceted orthodox world with an infrastructure to enable it to continue to grow, perhaps geometrically, as an orthodox family on average has far more offspring than generated in the non-Orthodox Jewish world.

"The non-Orthodox Jewish world continues to claim adherence to a particular majority of Americans self-identified as Jews. Yet, it has morphed into another kind of Jewish community, which future seems to be in doubt. Only a small percentage of students educated in reform and conservative institutions receive a Jewish education that likewise compares with their secular education.

"Many non-Orthodox children are now four or five generations removed from knowing family members who were grounded in Jewish knowledge or compliance. For at least two generations, the majority of Jews outside the Orthodox community have interfered. This has resulted in a continuing movement of the liberal churches towards accepting as Jewish, anyone who wants to be a Jew, many have assimilated and have little or no Jewish identification.

"Those who seek to preserve Jewish identification often define their Judaism as an aspect of liberal political values ​​and ethics. Even for those who accept this type of Jewish identity as legitimate, it seems difficult to produce anything but decline in the non-Orthodox Jewish community.

"It therefore seems that orthodoxy is about to dominate American Judaism and the Orthodox Jews will grow dramatically both in numbers and influence. Haredi orthodoxy is already significantly larger than modern orthodoxy. The growth of Haredi orthodoxy is likely to be greater than for any other segment of the Jewish community.

"Predictions of American-Jewish demography have often been wrong in the past and there could certainly be future developments that would believe the predictions suggested herein. However, if the current trends continue, there will be many consequences for the predicted result. An orthodox dominated American-Jewish community will continue to be prominent in many secular areas of action. On the other hand, Jewish prominence in some areas, such as entertainment and popular culture, is likely to decline.

"The tendency of Orthodox Jews to protect their values ​​and interests is likely to continue to produce political influence in proportion to the number of Jews in the general population. Orthodox Jews have the financial resources, sophistication and motivation to play an essential role in issues of real interest to them, my guess is that the pro-Israel lobby in America, although becoming orthodox-dominated, will continue to be very effective. "


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