Editorial: Jews Must Learn to Contend With a Religious America

May 19, 2004

Source: The Forward


On May 19, 2004 The Forward published an editorial noting, "America is changing rapidly. If American Jews don't grasp the significance of these changes, then we just might be left in the dust one day, notwithstanding our remarkable success to date.

America has played a unique role in the life of the Jewish people, particularly in the postwar era. That role, simply put, is irreplaceable, but it is by no means guaranteed. We can never afford complacency, nor assume confidently that today's policy - say, toward Israel - will necessarily be tomorrow's...

America is an increasingly religious country. According to Harvard professor Diana Eck, "We the people of the United States now form the most profusely religious nation on earth."

If only 4% of Swedes attend church weekly, the comparable number in the United States, according to one survey, is 44%. And whereas just 13% of the French said religion was very important to them, more than half of Americans replied affirmatively...

Whether Jews are entirely comfortable with the trend or not, the growing religiosity of Americans is a fact with which we must contend, as it has profound political, social and cultural implications for the country, and for minority communities like our own."