For quite a number of weeks leaders in Judaism have focused on the shocking Pew Report that presented a dismal future for Jews. One of the most shocking numbers was the 34% of Jews who believed it was OK to be Jewish and believe in Jesus.
This was only a number, a very daunting number for me until this past week. You might ask, what changed?
I was approached by two different men at my shul, who explained to be that one of the new members who recently became observant wanted to speak with me, but he was to shy to approach me. I made the first move, and went to him. I suggested that we meet for coffee one morning after morning prayers.
A few days later we went to Starbucks, and he began to share with me about his being raised in a Reform Jewish household, that leaned more toward Secular Judaism. Now, as an adult he was returning to Torah, however, he was not pleased to tell me that one of his daughters had married outside of Judaism, and that her former Catholic husband was now a born again Christian. To make matters worse, he had recently seen a posting from his daughter on Facebook announcing that she was now a born again Christian, and in her own words, “no longer Jewish.” He was beside himself, and looking for some answers.
Like most parents who are devastated by such news, his first thought was to lash out at the husband who led his daughter astray. Unfortunately, this issue goes much deeper, and often times we need to look at ourselves first.
What advice did I give him? I told him he needed to love her, and present an environment that was open to dialog. Further he needed to show her that he was interested in her perspective and curious about her new faith, rather than trying to prove her beliefs wrong. Any other response would simply drive her away.
In my last posting, I spoke about the synagogue model and discussed how Judaism needs to present a warm, inviting, and loving environment. However, it is not the synagogue that should be teaching our Jewish children about Judaism. Instead, we need to present a warm, inviting, and loving environment toward Judaism in our homes. This is the one thing that will change the numbers on the next Pew Report and keep Jews Jewish!