April 23, 2020
Please, forgive an initial stiffness. I’m used to writing more formal short essays or divrei Torah. This is my first stab at blogging.
I’ve joined the blogosphere for a very specific purpose: research and guidance.
A few months back a fine, British neighbor of mine, suggested that we write a book about the changes in Judaism in the post-World War II period. In conversation, we noted the weak level of observance in the 50’s, and then a major uptick starting in the mid-60’s. He experienced it in the UK; I in the US.
We found the change so dramatic that we decided to chronicle the phenomenon. Since the pandemic broke, we’ve been working separately, and we’ll have to see if we’ll, eventually, merge the efforts or produce two studies.
That brings me to the purpose of my blog: I’m looking for info, anecdotes, advice, etc.
Up until now I’ve been interviewing rabbis, historians and sociologists. I’ve done over 40. I’d like to hear from lay people, non-professional Jews, amateur Jews, if you will, about their recollections of that period in Diaspora Judaism, about 1945 until about 1980. Not from that period? Ask parents or grandparents, please.
Personally, I feel like part of the story. I was born in 1950, in a suburb of Boston. My father OB”M married right after leaving the US Navy, and had my sister in 1947, and me three years later. My grandparents were born in the former Russian Empire (father’s side in Lithuania, mother’s the Ukraine).
We knew we were Jewish, but it didn’t affect our behavior, in terms of Shabbat or diet. We belonged to an Orthodox shul, I went to an afternoon Talmud Torah, and had a big Bar Mitzva. For most of my friends that was the end of it. But then I took a different route.
Through NCSY, a close friend and a local rabbi, I started becoming observant. I went to YU, eventually became a rabbi, and went into Jewish education.
Perhaps, I’m just trying to figure out what happened to me. I don’t know. But I’m fascinated about the period and the movement back to vibrant Orthodoxy.
I hope to write regularly about discoveries I make, but, mostly, I want to hear other voices about what happened back in the 60’s. I hope you will join the discussion.