Jewish / Synagogues

“This ‘failure to communicate’ doesn’t strengthen synagogue life; instead, it encourages more members to leave the synagogue complaining about the lack of relevancy to their own lives”

On each Shabbat, many worshipers open their siddurim and proceed through the service with little to no knowledge of Hebrew. Rabbis know that most worshipers are unable to follow the service in Hebrew. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center Report, only 11 percent of Jews can read and understand Hebrew; they know that many people don’t believe in the omnipotent conception of God as described in the Torah, and many people don’t see the purpose of prayer. The congregants also know that the rabbi knows about the confusion in their beliefs and lack of Hebrew skills, but the two rarely say anything to each other about it. For decades, rabbis have ignored the problem and maintained the mindset: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” This “failure to communicate” doesn’t strengthen synagogue life; instead, it encourages more members to leave the synagogue complaining about the lack of relevancy to their own lives.

Myron H. Dembo, “The Indifference to Adult Jewish Illiteracy”, Jewish Journal (8-14 May 2015), 10.