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Combating Jewish Disinterest in the Centerist Path

In 1971, about 41 percent of American Jews were part of the Conservative Judaism movement, a centerist path "deeply rooted in tradition, yet informed by modernity." However, a 2013 Pew Research Center survey indicated that just 18 percent of American Jews identified with the movement. Rabbi Steven Wernick believes that's due to the "wildly successful" experience of Jews in America: "For the first time in Jewish history, where you have the opportunity to opt out, the question becomes, why opt in? And so for those religious movements that have been in the center...making that argument has been harder."

As the denomination celebrates its 100th anniversary, it has put a new emphasis on  re-imagining synagogue visions about how to build relationships, especially with young people, among whom 41 percent say they have no formal religious affiliation. In a 3 1/2-minute news video prepared by Kim Lawton for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a source for cutting edge reporting on religion, Wernick says the next generation "is not interested in committees and in boards. The next generation is interested in purpose and meaning." You might also want to consult a good primer on Judaism, its background, various movements and development, offered by ReligionLink, a resource for journalists provided by Religion Newswriters Association, a membership organization that promotes and supports quality religious reporting. For more help, see our related feature articles, "Best Resources on Congregational Vitality" and "Best Resources for Community Engagement."

 

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