Modern Orthodox professionals have played a key role in the revitalization of American Jewry in the past half-century. This revival is a primary bulwark against looming assimilation. Unless Modern Orthodoxy is reborn, the cohort of leading, community-embracing professionals of Jewish life, including communal affairs, education and spirituality will not be there in the next generation.
In addition, the ultra Orthodox renaissance of recent decades is of little utility for the rest of American Jewry in its struggle to achieve integration without assimilation. The charedi solution — adopted by the co-opted centrist Orthodox camp – is to work out some geographic, cultural or ethical shelter that permits its own culture to flourish. But it cannot much help the 90 percent of American Jews who are committed to full integration and maintaining a vibrant Jewish identity inside the general culture. The continuing second-class status for women, the delegitimization of alternative movements, the exclusion of minorities, the use of monopoly and political force to impose observance on others – all weaken the pull of Jewish identity and culture in the eyes of more integrated Jews. These values turn them off religiously, which weakens their ability to resist assimilation.
A new infusion of an invigorated Modern Orthodoxy that meets the best intellectual, moral and spiritual standards of postmodern culture is a critical ingredient for the strengthening of the center of affiliated Jewry. Much of Modern Orthodoxy’s practices and associations can be adopted or adapted to shore up non-Orthodox Jews’ lives and community. This strengthening is a sine qua non for survival and renewal of American Jewry.
The time is now to support and invest in a rebirth of Modern Orthodoxy. Such an investment will yield a major return in depth and vitality for the rest of American Jewry and the state of Israel.
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, “Can Modern Orthodoxy Be The New Center?”, The Jewish Week (6 May 2016), 20.