The historian of religion Jaroslav Pelikan wrote that we have a choice either to be “conscious participants” in tradition or its “unconscious victims.” The pandemic has demonstrated that American Jews are without a doubt the former. As Jack Wertheimer so robustly shows, to look at what synagogues across the country have done in the past year is to see the verve and vivacity of American Judaism. Not only have we seen successful efforts at maintaining our communities, but in many cases they are stronger. More people are tuning in for worship and learning, and a newfound love and appreciation for Jewish belonging seems to have awoken in people overnight. One year into this mess, that love has yet to abate. But will it?
The Opportunity of the Pandemic for Liberal Synagogues
Meaning is sought outside of America’s houses of worship by the many young who are “spiritual but not religious.” We liberal Jews must have something to say to these seekers.