Changing generations’ understanding of problems facing Judaism

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a conversation with other young Jewish professionals about the problems facing Jewish life today.  The conversation was facilitated by two rabbis from a synagogue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The rabbis mentioned that they had recently conducted a survey of congregants in their 50s and 60s who when asked what they believe is the biggest problem facing Judaism today, responded BDS.  Their finding was so surprising to me that I felt the need to clarify thinking that perhaps they were asked about problems on college campuses or with perceptions about Israel.  But, BDS was in fact what these individuals thought to be the biggest problem facing Judaism.

As an American Jew, I believe that it is critical for the Diaspora Jewish community to support Israel.  What is of particular concern to me are the generational differences in what people feel are the problems facing American Judaism today.

It seems that many more older American Jews are likely to love and feel strong connections to Israel, but that is not as much the case with younger American Jews.  Although the Birthright program has helped to change this, fewer young American Jews have traveled to Israel compared to their older counterparts.  Without having spent time in the country or having experienced the world before Israel became a state, there seems to be much less of a connection. In order to improve the state of Judaism, we need to focus on what Jews in America can relate to.

I noticed that One Table, an awesome organization that I have successfully used many times, is becoming more popular. One Table is an organization that sponsors Shabbat dinners for young people across the country – they are simply there to help you put together and enhance your Shabbat experience- a really wonderful initiative that is easy to implement! It is an initiative like this that will help engage more young Jews and I would love to see more like it! I hope the older generations can get on board with the changing landscape so they can continue to support millennials and younger generations in their quest for modern Judaism!

About the Author
Growing up, Pamela Slifer went to a Jewish Day School and attended Jewish summer camp. In college, she served on the Hillel student board as the Israel and Education chair. After college, she worked as an assistant director of a Hebrew School on the Upper East Side for two years and while in this position, staffed two birthright trips. She currently teaches a mixed 3rd/4th grade class at a Jewish Day School in Manhattan.