I have read the letters to the editor relating to an article published by my rabbi, David-Seth Kirshner, and, respectfully, I believe they misunderstand Rabbi Kirshner’s point (“D’varim: Are we there yet,” July 12, and Letters, July 19). Rabbi Kirshner is advocating for a new dialogue to take place with our next generation, based upon life in America as it is today, rather than upon the reality of their parents and grandparents. While the reality of my parents was that of the Holocaust and my reality was that of a more insecure people who were not generally accepted in mainstream America, the reality of my children is one where Jews are almost fully integrated into American society and American life.
I want my children and their children to lead Jewish lives. To that end, we have sent them to Jewish day school, been active in the Jewish community, and supported Jewish causes. In our home, they have been taught Jewish values and observance. What my rabbi is saying is that this is no longer enough.
Based upon the intermarriage rates, I must agree with him.
To succeed now, I must persuade my children that out of all the opportunities open to them, leading an observant Jewish life is the one most likely to help them to do good in the world, honor their relationships with family and friends, and bring them lasting satisfaction. If I speak to them about prejudice, exclusion, and fear as the reasons they should remain devoted to Israel and the Jewish people, I am not speaking a language they understand. That is not the world they experience.
Rabbi Kirshner is not championing the new status of Jews in America. He is describing a reality. We may not like the reality but I, like my rabbi, believe that we ignore it at our peril.