Russians are key to American Jewish continuity

Yesterday, in what could be considered a modern-day miracle, hundreds of secular Jewish youth gathered for half a day to discuss Jewish issues, and learn history & culture from Orthodox Rabbis and educators. And more fascinating for anyone familiar with American Jewry is that this is an occurrence which occurs every single week – week after week – at the fellowship programs run by the largest Russian-American Jewish organization, Russian-American Jewish Experience (RAJE).

For the secular American Jewish community, which is withering, Russian American Jews are the sole bright spot in otherwise dismal demographic studies. They are the only community where intermarriage rates are decreasing – this, while according to the first major survey of American Jews in 10 years, 71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry, two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God, and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year. Despite this, few programs are targeting this community – and it’s a shame.

The Russian-American Jewish community is vastly misunderstood – and undertargeted and it’s a mistake as Judaism is in dire straits in America. It’s quite ironic that these Jews were freed as Soviet Jews, but risk being lost to Judaism as American Jews. Despite Jonathan Sarna’s remarkable study “ Toward a Comprehensive Policy Planning for Russian-Speaking Jews in North America”, little has changed. The 15% of American Jewry who are Russian speaking – an estimated 750,000 Russian-American Jews – are the rare bright spot for the American Jewish community. What is needed is more education, as this community has an intense hunger and appreciation for Judaism. In Israel, Russian Jews have changed the country for the better – and in America, so too, can Russian American Jews help better shape our community.

Ronn Torossian is a board member of RAJE, and passionate about philanthropy and Jewish education.

About the Author
Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer of 5WPR. Headquartered in New York City, the firm is one of the 25 largest independent public relations firms in the United States. 5WPR has been named “PR Agency of the Year” by the American Business Awards; and Ronn Torossian is the winner of the Silver Stevie Communications, Investor Relations, and PR Executive of the Year of the Year Award by the American Business Awards. Ronn’s book, “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations,” received rave reviews. He is a member of the prestigious Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and is an active board member of a number of non-profit organizations. Ronn Torossian is a frequently sought after communications expert, often appearing on FOX News, CNBC, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, and other major media outlets. He resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his family. Email: rtorossian@5wpr.com Facebook: Ronn's Facebook Twitter: Ronn's Twitter Page
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