‘Secular movements do not have a future’

‘Secular movements do not have a future’

In regard to the Sept. 11 article by Lawrence Bush, I would say that Jewish secular movements really do not have a future because they do not have a real past, either. First, the author does not have a real understanding of Jewish community of the 20th century. It is true that the greater majority of American Jews rejected traditional Jewish theology, but most Jews never became completely secular either. Indeed, many of the authors Mr. Bush cites had the same conflicts that Jews of their day had. Indeed, beyond their first generation, organizations such as the Workmen’s Circle, Labor Zionists, and Hashomer Hatzair had to change themselves to accommodate members who were neither completely secular nor religious. The organizations that refused to do so died a slow death.

Secondly, the author seems to lament the passing of the Jewish People’s Fraternal Organization and the organizations associated with it and state that it was a result of McCarthyite zeal of the late 1940s and early 1950s. This is clearly untrue since by the time these organizations were targeted, they had been already emptied of their membership, with the exception of a small core group of true believers. The reason for their decline was their assistance in following the demands of Moscow even when the interests of the Jewish communities home and abroad were adversely affected.

Thirdly, the author seems to strongly suggest that Humanist Judaism without a personal God is the wave of the future. Again, what the author seems not to understand is that the average Jew wishes to experience some relationship with both Jewish tradition and a personal God in synagogue worship. When you exclude God and substitute a Peretz reading for the Torah reading, you cannot do that. The Conservative and Reform movements, with all of their faults, understood that; the Humanist and Reconstructionist movements do not. This is why the latter two movements will always remain relatively small.