Liberal Judaism Needs To Find a Worldview

Letter to the Editor

Published March 09, 2011, issue of March 18, 2011.
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The crisis in the liberal streams of Judaism is twofold (“Liberal Denominations Face Crisis as Rabbis Rebel, Numbers Shrink,” February 18).

The decline of 14% of Conservative families in a decade is jaw-dropping. Yet demography is only one part of the crisis.

There is also a crisis of meaning in the larger denominations of American Judaism. There are meaningful elements of an American Jewish identity — support for Israel, family rites and celebrations, nostalgia and others. But none of these has a spiritual dimension. None defines a Jewish meaning and a Jewish purpose.

Non-Orthodox Jews lack a coherent Jewish worldview. Admittedly, structuring one is a difficult task. Calls by the Orthodox to turn to Orthodoxy are misguided. Most American Jews simply won’t accept the beliefs or practices of the Orthodox. Instead, it is an urgent task to search for such a worldview. My own sense is that it will be grounded in ethics, but let Jewish voices be heard. Let us look for our path.

Lawrence J. Epstein
Stony Brook, N.Y.


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