The Jewish Future I: Judaism & Liberalism
Irving Kristol’s article, “Why Religion Is Good for the Jews” [August], impressively takes on Jewish organizations for fighting the wrong battles, and correctly urges them to rethink their priorities. As a case in point, his analysis of the breakdown of the so-called black-Jewish alliance, which he blames on the failure of welfare-state liberalism—with which the Jews are so highly identified—to solve the problems of the inner city, is compelling. Perhaps, however, he goes a little too far when he blames the creation of the urban underclass singularly on “liberal policies.” The “strong thuggish component” he refers to among some black university teachers is indeed a frightening development, but I wonder if this phenomenon is not best understood as a reflection of the frustration of so many students and teachers with effecting change in the black condition.
I understand, if I do not completely sympathize with, Mr. Kristol’s critique of liberalism, but I fully agree with his chastising Jewish organizations for their mistaken priorities. Jews would be so much better off worrying about what we are and are not doing among and for ourselves than worrying about black militancy, and what Christians may be doing. Although he views the issue through a distracting maze of anti-liberalism, Mr. Kristol is clear in his call for Jews to look inward and get busy educating their young about Jewish traditions and practices. I heartily agree with the course of action he presents, especially with his assertion that the official Jewish community will have to become a lot more Jewish than it is today, and that as a community we must allot the necessary resources to create the schools and colleges needed to stem the tide of intermarriage and total assimilation. His conclusion that Jewish education is the only solution to these problems which amount to the steady disappearance of the American Jewish community is, we can all agree, irrefutable.
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