One blogger at the New York Celebrate Israel Parade was so overwhelmed by the orthodox community’s involvement at the parade that she declared the future of Judaism in America to be orthodoxy. To be clear, the writer is not orthodox, but the lack of apparent vibrancy from the non-orthodox seemed to swing her vote for orthodoxy as the future of Judaism in America.
I happen to agree. It is extremely difficult to maintain cultural and social Judaism absent ritual and observance of Jewish law. It can be done, but it is becoming more difficult with each passing generation. The proof is in the pudding.
The brand of orthodoxy that will prevail in America is still up for discussion. The writer of that blog post was referring to modern orthodox Judaism seeing as they are the ones she saw at the parade.
Another person at the parade was overwhelmed to a certain degree by the participation of the non-orthodox. This person felt that orthodoxy was not as well represented as they could and should have been. In this person’s opinion, the parade showcased non-orthodox Jews showing their passion for Israel. The orthodox Jews were like an afterthought. This person is an orthodox Jew.
How interesting is it that two different perspectives can yield such different observations?
I believe that we need a combination of the two to maximize the chances of success for American Judaism. And the perfect opportunity to implement this vision is at the parade. Israel is something we all (with the exception of some fringe anti-Israel groups) can agree upon. Israel activism and AIPAC are full of orthodox Jews. Not just modern orthodox Jews. More right wing Jews strongly identify with Israel as well. The JewsNews sites report heavily on Israeli society, politics, and events. Those are sites that are read and written by right leaning (not in the political sense) orthodox Jews.
It seems to me that a parade for Israel is the perfect time to march together in support of a cause and in solidarity with each other. The modern orthodox community has embraced this opportunity and marches in the parade every year. But aside from a few sporadic people from the more yeshivish side of the spectrum, the Agudah / chasidic / Lakewood communities are noticeably absent from the parade.
I understand that there are political concerns. I understand there may be halachic concerns as well. But I just wish we could see past those, if only for one day to stand together and do something as a united Jewish people. I just wish that for once, we could all join in unison and make a clear statement on behalf of something we all agree upon.
In the future of American Judaism, all Jews are able to work together on the things upon which we agree, and there are many such things. The places where we disagree will still be contested. But it will be more like two opinions from the same team as opposed to two opinions from opposing teams.
If we are to get there, I think the New York Celebrate Israel Parade 2013 is a great place to start.
Link: Times of Israel