Mainstream American Judaism, in a desperate attempt to remain relevant in a wide-open and freewheeling culture, has kicked open all its doors and windows, and at least one Jew is not happy. Jack Wertheimer, professor of American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, has hit back with a stinging essay in Commentary called “The Ten Commandments of American Jews.”
Nearly a year ago, Jack Wertheimer, provost of the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and a scholar of demographic trends, put a challenge to a former student.
Jews around the nation are deeply involved in interfaith initiatives, Wertheimer noted. But they avoid involvement with their own religion's different movements, letting ideological differences get in the way of conversing with each other over issues dear to each. Do something to mend that divide before the gulf is unbridgeable, he urged Stuart Altshuler, a JTS graduate and rabbi of Mission Viejo's Congregation Eilat.
It took nearly 10 years, but now the other shoe has dropped. In the early 1990s, the American Jewish community was jolted by findings of an intermarriage rate exceeding 50 percent during the previous five years. Now, a new survey sponsored by the American Jewish Committee (AJCommittee) sheds light on the profound social and psychological consequences of widespread intermarriage.