The Threat Within

This country has been good for us, and we have prospered (“When You’re Here, You’re Family,” May 12). We are safe and integrated into society. But one of the ironies is that this has enabled many Jews to drift and be absorbed into society and gradually lose contact with their roots and brethren. Others choose not to be associated with Judaism for whatever reason. We know that there are millions of radical Islamic terrorists who want to kill us, and that is a definite threat. But for now, the greatest threat to our existence comes from within.

In many ways we are like the Jews of the Age of Alexander and the Hellenists. Leading a Jewish life has never been easy. In every age there are temptations to leave it all behind and take up the ways of the people among whom we live. Just as we were tempted by the Hellenists, we are tempted now.

We have always been a tiny minority, and overall our numbers continue to decline. As our synagogues lose members and close, everyone else is building more churches and mosques. Our Hebrew schools and Sunday schools have suffered massive losses of children, and many children are not learning about their religion. What will they have to pass on to their children? Will they be able to tell their children the story of Passover and how the Jewish people were delivered from the Egyptians?

I once asked a rabbi I knew well why he gave so much of himself at all hours to help bring someone back to Judaism, and he answered simply: Every Jewish soul is precious and deserving of the utmost effort to help them find their way back. I admire him and all the other people involved in kiruv (outreach) that is so very important for the future of the Jewish people.

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