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What's the Biggest Threat Facing the Jewish People Today?

What's the Biggest Threat Facing the Jewish People Today?

Red question mark on a pole against a blue sky background

As part of its Rabbi Roundtable series, the Jewish Daily Forward says it "[brings] together leading rabbis from all corners of the Jewish world to offer their thoughts on the big questions." This week, they asked rabbis of varying backgrounds and denominations, “What is the biggest threat facing the Jewish people today?” Here's what the three Reform-affiliated rabbis on the list had to say:

  • Rabbi Rachel Timoner of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, NY, kept her answer short but powerful, saying that the biggest threat is "being willing to sell out our values for a misapprehension of what will make us safe."
  • Rabbi Denise Eger, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, says, "The biggest threat facing the Jewish people is our own apathy. There are threats from outside, but I think the bigger threat is that many Jews are disconnected from anything Jewish, uneducated Jewishly, and simply don’t care about their Jewish identity or Jewish connection."
  • Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs at VelveteenRabbi.com, is a Renewal rabbi who serves Reform synagogue Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA. Her response: "The biggest threat facing the Jewish people today is apathy and lack of interest. For secular Jews, it’s apathy and lack of interest in the spiritual and community aspects of Jewish life. For the right-wing, it’s apathy and lack of interest in other forms of Judaism, except as sources of potential ba’alei teshuvah (those who choose stricter Jewish practice). For those whose Jewish education was lackluster, it’s the risk of 'checking out' without ever discovering our tradition’s richness. And to make matters worse, the disconnect between liberal Jews and ultra-Orthodox Jews makes it hard to see ourselves as part of the same whole. Hidden in this problem I see the seed of its solution: Can you envision a program that connects liberal Jews (grounded in secular knowledge but not in Torah) with ultra-Orthodox Jews (who know the mesorah [tradition] but might not see how it dovetails with secular education)?"

To read the other 14 rabbis' responses, visit The Forward. Rabbi or not, tell us: How would you answer this question? 

Kate Bigam Kaput is the assistant director of messaging and branding for the Union for Reform Judaism and, in this role, serves as a content manager and editor for ReformJudaism.org. A prolific essayist and lifestyle blogger, Kate's writing has been featured in The Washington PostEsquire, Woman's Day, Cleveland Magazine, HeyAlma.com, Jewish Women Archive, and more. Kate, who grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, OH, holds a degree in magazine journalism and lives in Cleveland, OH, with her husband.

Kate Bigam Kaput
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