‘Old school’ advice: Hope, doom, abstention don’t unify

Dear Families,
I admit it — I’m old school! We still get the Dallas Morning News delivered to our house and, of course, we get the Texas Jewish Post. (I also read lots of things online so I’m not totally old school.)
Last week Jacquielynn Floyd wrote in her metro column about our new president. Whether I agree or disagree is not important — what is important is that her advice could also be given to us Jews about Judaism. Floyd wrote that there seem to be a few “general camps of response” that she called “the best-hopers,” “the doom-shouters” and “the tune-outers.” Let’s forget politics and think of how these apply to being Jewish and the future of Judaism.
“The best-hopers” — There are those Jews who say that Judaism has always been on the way out and that assimilation may be bad and intermarriage is rampant, but they believe that Judaism and Jews will survive forever. They point to statistics about Jewish practice and say that more Jews are coming back to rituals, even if they are changing the rituals for the times.
“The doom-shouters” — There are those who say that things are the worst they have ever been with more intermarriage than Judaism can survive and this time is certainly to be the end. They point to statistics that show that if it weren’t for the Orthodox, there would be fewer and fewer Jews every decade and the rituals that are practiced are so far from “real” Judaism that the day will come when it isn’t even recognized.
“The opt-outers” — There are those who say that they know they are Jewish — you don’t have to belong, you don’t have to support, you certainly don’t need to practice — just knowing is enough.
All of these groups have something in common — they are all talking about being Jewish at least! However, none of the groups has an answer — each one is simply telling the story to themselves that resonates for them. What could each group be doing?
Hope is good but Judaism is an action-based religion — our rituals connect us to belief and action. Hope for the best, yes, but demonstrate your belief through action. Judaism requires us to stand up and act.
The bad news and the sad history of Judaism leads us to seeing more of the same, but we must change that mindset. Never forget but don’t live in it. Judaism and Jews have survived and will continue.
Walking away is never an answer that works for the community and for the individual. We need community and we must work for it — doing can lead to believing.
Many of those questioning our country’s politics say that we only have to last for four years — not a good answer for politics and for Judaism. We’ve lasted for thousands of years and, with commitment, we are headed for thousands more. Let’s not divide into camps against one another but work together!
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is the director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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