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Almost two weeks ago, the two of us proposed that Jewish communities consider instituting an alternative pathway to joining the Jewish People. As the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 demonstrated, thousands of Americans – many married to Jews, many with Jewish children and grandchildren, and many with Jewish friends – have already chosen to identify as Jews without converting. Though not raised Jewish, these people – amounting to 5% of the adult Jewish respondents in the New York study – affirm their sense of Jewish belonging without necessarily taking on a Jewish religious identity. In contrast, those who have undergone conversion constitute barely 2% of the respondents in the study.We believe this already widespread phenomenon merits encouragement and enrichment. Not only do we wish that more people embrace being Jewish, we seek to deepen their Jewish identification by their encountering the full breadth of Jewish civilization – history, literature, politics, music, Israel, communal life, social action, acts of caring, and, yes, holidays, congregations, sacred texts, and ritual practice. For those who would prefer not (yet?) to acquire a Jewish religious identity but still want a Jewish social/cultural identity, they could undergo what we tentatively called, “Jewish Cultural Affirmation.”We believe that some prospective converts to Judaism feel that religious conversion demands what, for them, would be an insincere affirmation of religious faith. Perhaps they are agnostic or atheist or secular, or even committed to another faith tradition. As a result, many would-be members of the Jewish People have no possibility of engaging in a course of study and socialization leading to public recognition of their having joined the Jewish People, and they have limited access to enriching their familiarity with “lived Judaism,” the actual culture and ethos of Jewish life as lived in families and communities.Continue reading.
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Conservative Synagogue In Westchester County
1666 Pleasantville Road, Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510