By Bernard Susser
All through background, the persecutions of the Jewish humans were vital to their identification and to the solidarity in their faith and cultural history. yet now, with the good fortune of the Jewish kingdom of Israel and the prosperity of Jews within the usa, the collective sufferings that experience solid the Jewish identification are disappearing. The compelling query Bernard Susser and Charles Liebman ask in deciding on Survival is: Will this luck sarcastically turn out deadly to Judaism? Susser and Liebman paint a traumatic portrait of the decline of Judaism in either Israel and the USA and the various--and almost always ineffective--efforts to opposite that decline. In Israel, as Jews are more and more attracted to cosmopolitan Western tradition, Jewishness is at risk of being diminished basically to communal folkways, whereas political tensions among non secular and secular Jews threaten to tug the kingdom aside. within the united states, assimilation and secularization is even tougher to withstand. Efforts to bolster Jewish id by means of claiming the U.S. continues to be anti-Semitic and by way of pointing to the Holocaust and the threats to Israel's survival haven't labored. The authors do, in spite of the fact that, see a hopeful check in Jewish Orthodoxy which, whereas no longer a potential option to the matter, is effectively passing on its tenets and practices and attracting many non-Orthodox Jews. They establish numerous points of Orthodoxy that may be emulated by way of all Jews and carry the simplest desire for Jewish survival--its reverence for examine, its skill to set and continue barriers, and its deep trust in community.For a person concerned with the destiny of Judaism and what it capability to be Jewish, identifying Survival is an impassioned, troubling, and crucial booklet.
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Additional info for Choosing Survival: Strategies for a Jewish Future
What transformed a virtually intact traditional Jewish world into one in which the number of traditionally observant Jews plummeted to perhaps 10 percent of their total number at the present time? To be sure, in the same space of time the Christian world also sustained major disaffections and disaffiliations, but not with the severity of those affecting the Jewish community. With the rapidity of a geometric progression, loyalty to the customary Jewish world of belief and practice contracted and then contracted more severely still.
The meaning of ideas such as chosenness and exile would be open for examination. Jewish isolation and insulation would need to be reassessed. Messianic visions would require new content. That such theo-cultural revolutions could remain within the traditional fold is demonstrated by one of the early harbingers of Zionism, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer (1795 — 1874). 22 It was no illusion or trick: The Gentiles were genuinely offering Jews civil liberties. Since it was obvious in Kalischer's mind that such an unprecedented development had to be the work of God, the Emancipation must signal a new stage in the Divine design for both Jewish and world history.
What happens to the Jews, therefore, constitutes history's principle narrative—even for non-Jews. Normative Judaism, to be very sure, is not racist. Non-Jews can convert and share both the Jewish condition and the Jewish destiny. Nevertheless, the axis about which Judaism revolves is a specific people descendent from the Patriarch Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac's son Jacob. Judaism is a birthright, not an acquired taste. Notably, in the Bible, the Jews are described in explicitly familial, kinship terms: They are the House of Jacob, the Children of Israel.