A distinguished Jewish leader and philanthropist argues for openness and joy to reinvigorate Judaism in America.
After a lifetime of fighting the persecution of Jews, Edgar M. Bronfman has concluded that what North American Jews need now is hope, not fear. Bronfman urges North American Jewry “to build, not fight. We need to celebrate the joy in Judaism, even as we recognize our responsibility to alleviate suffering and to help heal a broken world. We need to understand Judaism as a multifaceted culture as well as a religion, and explore Jewish literature, music, and art. We need to understand our tradition of debate and questioning, and invite all to enter a conversation about our central texts, rituals, and laws. We need to open our book anew, and re-create a vital Judaism for our time.”
Through a reexamination of important texts and via interviews with some of the leading figures in Judaism today, Bronfman outlines a new agenda for the Jewish community in North America, one that will ensure that Judaism grows and thrives in an open society. He calls for welcome without conditions for intermarried families and disengaged Jews, for a celebration of Jewish diversity, and for openness to innovation and young leadership. Hope, Not Fear is an impassioned plea for all who care about the future of Judaism to cultivate a Jewish practice that is open to the new as it delves into the old, that welcomes many voices, and that reaches out to make the world a better place.
When the great mass of Jews immigrated to the United States and Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they didn’t come in order to be better Jews. They came in search of a better life, eager to leave behind the poverty and anti-Semitism in those areas of Eastern Europe where Jews were permitted to settle. It was most important to speak English, support their families, and give their children a good education. The rallying cry was not “Be Jewish,” but “Be somebody!”
A Path to Jewish Renaissance
Edgar M. Bronfman and Beth Zasloff