From my time as an Orthodox rabbi on a college campus, I saw firsthand the impact of the postmodernist approach on Modern Orthodox young people. The intellectually curious young person finds little guidance to help resolve the tensions arising from a deconstructionist method, or to confront more nuanced definitions of truth in a world of competing truth claims. More often than not, they are told that their questions are without merit or their struggles are a test of their faith in God. It does not take long for that young person to opt out of active engagement and to maintain, at most, only an external fidelity to the rituals and lifestyle of Orthodoxy.
Where do we start in addressing this challenge? The first step is to acknowledge that young people today choose their lifestyle, their religious commitments, and their beliefs. People today feel less of a need to maintain what previous generations believed or felt than perhaps in any generation prior. The tremendous growth of the “nones” in the American religious landscape is testament to this fact. If we internalize the reality that people today choose to affiliate, to identify and to practice their faith, then we have an obligation to respond with integrity and thoughtfulness to the critiques people in their 20s and 30s are bringing to the communal table.
Rabbi Ben Greenberg, “The Millennial Generation: From the Chosen Nation to the Nation that Chooses”, Conversations, Issue 24 (Winter 2016/5776), 78.