by Susan Weidman Schneider

Identity and Anxiety

Feminism is the good news in Jewish continuity

It’s not that I’m naive about the demographic panic of 1990’s Jewish life. I understand that the high rate of intermarriage, the thin content of most Jewish education and the diminution of charitable contributions to Jewish causes have all powered the wave of high anxiety sweeping across the Jewish landscape-leaving in its path task forces and commissions dedicated to ensuring “Jewish continuity” (that is, “how to ensure our ongoing vitality as a Jewish community,” as one report says.) The numbers, taken from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey, do represent an almost unprecedented turning away from Jewish connectedness by some Jews. But the bad news has masked the good— and there’s plenty to be learned from the good. If you watch carefully, you can see other numbers, as yet untallied: numbers of women who have never before in their lives been interested in discovering the Jewish component of their identity, and who are now doing just that.

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