The “Hot Topic” in all Jewish communities throughout the world is how best to ensure the continued existence of our people. What must be said at the onset is that the existence of the Jews is not in danger. God has already promised, in numerous verses in Tanach, that without qualification the Jewish Nation will always survive.
This is not the problem.
The challenge is threefold: assimilation, indifference, and the disconnect that too many Jews feel toward Judaism. Parents are concerned about the drifting away of their children. Philanthropic organizations worry about the diminishing of donations. Schools are dealing with lower enrollments. Israel is faced with fewer tourists and olim, and the general ambivalence about the centrality of Israel in the hearts of young Jews. The challenge, then, is to keep as many Jews connected with Judaism as we can, since our existence is assured.
The initiatives to address this challenge are varied and innovative. Free trips to Israel, scholarships for camps, reduced tuition at school — these are just some of the solutions suggested and implemented. The rationale for these solutions is that the more Jewish exposure and experience a young Jew receives, the more likely he or she will remain connected. In fact, a week in Israel, two weeks in camp, and a weekday evening at Hebrew High do not improve the likelihood of continued involvement in the Jewish community.
“If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it,” is a common cliché, which also has deep meaning. We know the answer to this challenge. It has worked in the past and it is working in the present. The more Torah and mitzvot an individual, family and community incorporates into daily life, the more Jewish continuity is ensured.
It is that simple.
Give your children a quality Jewish education, with intellect, emotion and experiences, and they will develop a respect and love for Judaism. Observe Shabbat at home, and they and you will not consider it a burden, but an empowerment. Observe the laws of mikvah and you will consider it not oppressive, but liberating. Your marriage will improve and so will your parenting. Every mitzvah performed, every piece of Torah studied, empowers you and your loved ones with commitment and staying power.
Birthright, camps, etc. are Band-aids. This proven, true solution that has ensured our survival until now, and will continue to do so until Moshiach comes and beyond, will ensure that we have knowledgeable, committed Jews dedicated to Torah and Israel.