I have always wondered how the loyal synagogue attendee who separates himself, consciously, from Jewish service organizations such as federations and the myriad ofJewish alphabet organizations adds to the strength of the Jewish communityin the United States. What a great contribution the secular Jews of yesteryear made, as stated in the essay, to Zionism, the labor movement,and Yiddish culture, at a time when the “shared sense of pride and grievance” kept Jews together. Do we mourn the loss of earlier grievances? Do we mourn the fact that our society is more open and has “diluted” our Jewish connections? I, for one, don’t.
Is marrying in and having Jewish children the ultimate value or is living a Jewish life, within or outside of the synagogue, the real expression of Jewish values? The argument, of course, is that with intermarriage the connection weakens. But opening the synagogue to the intermarried apparently has not been successful. What needs to be promoted by synagogues and other Jewish community groups is education of Jewish history, of Jewish leaders, of Jewish influence in the development of democracy, of Jewish artists and authors and what they are saying. The history is so rich as to be irresistible. With knowledge one must be proud to be a Jew and to manifest that pride by participating in and supporting the institutions that provide a sense of community and connection while advocating for a better life for all Americans and for supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.