Choosing Survival: Strategies for a Jewish Future by Bernard Susser

By Bernard Susser

All through heritage, the persecutions of the Jewish humans were valuable to their identification and to the team spirit in their faith and cultural history. yet now, with the luck of the Jewish nation of Israel and the prosperity of Jews within the usa, the collective sufferings that experience solid the Jewish identification are disappearing. The compelling query Bernard Susser and Charles Liebman ask in settling on Survival is: Will this luck satirically end up deadly to Judaism? Susser and Liebman paint a traumatic portrait of the decline of Judaism in either Israel and the us and the various--and as a rule ineffective--efforts to opposite that decline. In Israel, as Jews are more and more attracted to cosmopolitan Western tradition, Jewishness is at risk of being decreased purely to communal folkways, whereas political tensions among non secular and secular Jews threaten to drag the nation aside. within the united states, assimilation and secularization is even more durable to withstand. Efforts to reinforce Jewish identification by way of claiming the U.S. remains to be anti-Semitic and via pointing to the Holocaust and the threats to Israel's survival haven't labored. The authors do, besides the fact that, see a hopeful sign up Jewish Orthodoxy which, whereas no longer a workable method to the matter, is effectively passing on its tenets and practices and attracting many non-Orthodox Jews. They determine a number of facets of Orthodoxy that may be emulated by way of all Jews and carry the simplest wish for Jewish survival--its reverence for learn, its skill to set and preserve limitations, and its deep trust in community.For a person eager about the destiny of Judaism and what it capability to be Jewish, making a choice on Survival is an impassioned, troubling, and crucial booklet.

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As has so often been said by the rabbis, Jews and Judaism are related as body and soul. Taking this analogy in a totally non-rabbinic direction we might say, however, that while the soul cannot, under any circumstances, survive without the body, the body can survive without the soul. More concretely: Whereas Jewish religiosity without ethnic identity has proven untenable (the program of classical Reform Judaism having failed), Jewish ethnicity separated from its religious qualities has proven to be remarkably hardy.

The invitation to join a universal human fellowship mitigates the sufferings of centuries by having the Jewish odyssey end in reconciliation and harmony. It allows concrete Jewish interests to be advanced and justified by appealing to a transcending moral ideal. How understandable then that no idea cluster, over the past 250 years, has had deeper or more lasting effects on the Jewish psyche. Nor could the Enlightenment's emphasis on reasoning and inquiry fail to reverberate with comparable intellectual qualities in the Jewish tradition.

If we are to make sense of the Jewish future as seen from America and from Israel, this is the necessary starting point. " Jews survived, so it is said, not despite their persecutions but because of them. It follows then that as persecution declines, we can expect a parallel decline in Jewish loyalties. 1 There is nothing miraculous about Jewish survival, Spinoza asserted. Jewish survival and gentile antisemitism derive from the same source: the Jewish insistence on separatism. In Spinoza's own words: As to their continued existence for so many years when scattered and stateless, this is in no way surprising, since they have separated themselves from other nations to such a degree as to incur the hatred of all, and this not only through external rites alien to the 20 choosing survival rites of other nations but also through the mark of circumcision, which they religiously observe.

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