I read with pride – because he is the spiritual leader of the congregation I belong to -Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky’s comments on the results of the recent Pew survey on Jewish identity (“Local rabbis talk about the Pew survey,” October 11). His message of inclusion is one which more Jewish leaders need to hear.
Rabbi Pitkowsky’s comments on progressive Jewish organizations like J Street and the New Israel Fund were particularly welcome. The Pew survey found that J Street’s message of a two-state solution to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians resonates with a large majority of American Jews, particularly younger ones. The fact that young American Jews feel free to voice criticism over Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinians should not be regarded as an abandonment of Jewish identity but a positive engagement with the Jewish future. The American Jewish establishment should no more seek to stifle this engagement than it should feel it necessary to squelch criticism of our own government or Israelis’ criticisms of theirs.
J Street members, and I am one, love Israel. We want to see a secure, prosperous, and peaceful future for Israel, within borders in which a large Jewish majority can carry Jewish culture, values, and history into the future.
Far from ostracizing organizations like J Street, mainstream Jewish organizations ought to embrace it, for two reasons: First, because it represents the views of the majority of our people in this country, and second, because J Street and other progressive Jewish organizations can provide the necessary framework to keep younger American Jews within the Jewish communal fold.