Measuring the unaffiliated
In order for the new Pittsburgh Jewish Community Scorecard to be meaningful, you have to include the people who have left the Jewish community in your survey statistics, or your survey will be useless. Institutions like the Federation and the synagogues are doing what they believe to be best for the Jewish community. Obviously, the unaffiliated and the interfaith couples do not agree.
In order to get a true appraisal of what is wrong with the Jewish community, you have to ask those who have chosen not to be part of it. The Scorecard must incorporate the opinions of the unaffiliated and the interfaith marriages or else you will never know what you are doing that turns them away.
Furthermore, when you question people for the Scorecard, you have to classify who they are. Did they receive a formal Jewish education? Were they bar/bat mitzvah? Were they confirmed? Did they go to Jewish summer camp? Only then can you correlate the effects of a formal Jewish education (or lack thereof) with the opinions that people will espouse.
Ask people if their synagogue welcomes the interfaith couples. Ask them if they think their synagogue should welcome the interfaith couples. Ask if their synagogue does outreach to the unaffiliated.
All the religions are suffering from a lack of enathusiasm about religion, and the resulting lack of membership. People are not buying into religion, so other things have to make the religious institution relevant to their lives.
The Jewish community is doing a lot of very good things besides religious traditions, but you are not sharing it with the general public. You are not broadcasting your activities to the general public and inviting them to participate.
Jews are very active in a number of different social and economic issues. You can take the Jew out of the synagogue but you cannot take the Judaism out of his genetic code. If Jews are passionate about something, the unaffiliated Jews will also be passionate about that subject. Tell them what you are doing, and you will get their attention.
In the meantime, put the Scorecard on the Internet, and advertise to anyone interested with a QR code so that they can go directly to the Scorecard and tell you what you want to know.
A matter of concern
It should always be a matter of concern when our faith is negatively portrayed in the media. There could not be a more damaging image of Judaism than that which is currently being displayed nationwide through the arrest of two New Jersey “rabbis” that allegedly engaged in the abduction and torture of men that have refused to grant their wives a get (ritual divorce).
If the individuals that have been charged are convicted, it will demonstrate the hypocrisy of many of those that claim to be holier than the rest of us. The genesis of this mess, though, is the bizarre practice among the ultra-Orthodox of requiring that the husband agree to a divorce requested by his wife no matter how irreparably damaged a marriage has become.
I cringe when I envision the gentile world responding to a news story involving us with the sentiment, “Oh, those crazy Jews.” I can hear it being uttered en masse today. God help us.
Upper St. Clair