Full article from the Washington Post here:
- From the Washington Post: Religion (Where it says Church, read also Synagogue)
I read this article (both cited above and reprinted below) from the Washington Post during this year’s time of Pesach, a holiday of the Jewish tradition which by law (and by tradition) calls for synagogue attendance, especially among the more ‘prayer-quorum-service-oriented’ among the Jewish community.
While it is a time set on our Jewish-Hebrew-calendar and in our collective-communal-memory (of both past and present) — it continues to persist as the one Jewish holiday that is most observed by the majority of the American Jewish community — and yet, it is not the synagogue nor the shul that appears to draw us to ‘observance.’ It appears that synagogues are so poorly attended among all of the Jewish movements of our time and even at this time of Passover, that it does make one wonder, especially in light of the collective love and respect for Passover itself, what has happened to (or in) the Synagogue.
Allow me at this juncture to add that it is not the synagogue service which draws us to celebrate together (irony) instead, it is the Pesach Seder which draws our attention and emotion to Passover, or put another way, ‘draws us together’ — and by this I mean, family, friends, and even uninvited guests. I add this because we take very seriously the opening verses of the Haggadah (the ‘HaLachma Anya’), opening the door to those uninvited as well (“let all who are hungry”). And of course, let us not forget those seemingly invisible yet very present, those we continue to long for, such as loved ones long departed who we will never forget under any circumstances.
- Here I would be remiss if I were not to mention the place we set for Elijah, our beloved prophet who with great hope, with great prophetic promise, will draw us all back together again, invited and uninvited alike.
All of this I posit is not the synagogue, it never really was. What we witness with the Passover experience among friends and families now permeates and possibly replaces the Synagogue community observance as a whole. Synagogues, even independent of this Pandemic, have been steadily decreasing in number for many years now, perhaps a generation or two in the making. Aside from those simply going out of business, much of it due to demographic shifts related to birth rate, assimilationist tendencies, internecine political wars taking place within the synagogue (over bloated) structures, endowment spending out of desperation, building funds, unctuous HR considerations, political intrigues worthy of 2nd rate literature, the list is really endless. In essence, the Synagogue of yesteryear has gone from a dip-of-irrelevance to a state of communal toxicity — while the Passover Seder and home celebrations have trended up and show signs of even more prominence — both now and in the immediate future. Yes, of course there is room for real Shuls, and by that I mean those dedicated to be in the service of “learning,” especially those that show signs of people being glad to gather together (rare). I would even reflect that Lerhaus Newshul is full of refugees from numerous synagogues and temples that lost their way and have squandered their purpose for irrelevant trends of desperation and less than honorable intentions. This is something we will continue to study together along with our combined look at Jewish identity of the past and our continued gatherings in honor of what our forebears handed to us, a disparate people reluctant to freedom, yet made those fateful steps forward — together as one people. A people which originally saw very little in common with each other — other than perhaps a shared experience, but the shared experience of Egypt was in time replaced by standing together at Sinai and studying the Torah received there and acting together in moving forward as one.
That is how we have survived and it is all rapidly changing before our very eyes . . .
Here’s the beginning of the article — let’s continue to study what has happened and learn from the Pesach Seder traditions. We learn that it is in the gathering of friends and family, in the studying of the story of deliverance from slavery that we can now step forward on the journey ahead to a better place, to a more ‘Promised Land.’
Yes, please remember there is class Wednesday — but not Sunday . . . .
Warm regards, Chag Same’ach v’Kasher,
P.S. Benji update:
He is home and safe — we are, as of this writing, unsure that he will be able to get back into Israel due to continued Covid Virus concerns along with internecine tensions and issues between the Israeli Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Foreign Relations (not to mention military concerns, as the IDF is administering part of the inoculation program. All in all, it’s probably anti Semitism.
Here’s the article opening. . .
Church membership in the U.S. has fallen below the majority for the first time in nearly a century:
Full article from the Washington Post here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2021/03/29/church-membership-fallen-below-majority/
The proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue or mosque has dropped below 50 percent, according to a poll from Gallup released Monday. It is the first time that has happened since Gallup first asked the question in 1937, when church membership was 73 percent.
In recent years, research data has shown a seismic shift in the U.S. population away from religious institutions and toward general disaffiliation, a trend that analysts say could have major implications for politics, business and how Americans group themselves. In 2020, 47 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. The polling firm also found that the number of people who said religion was very important to them has fallen to 48 percent, a new low point in the polling since 2000.
For some Americans, religious membership is seen as a relic of an older generation, said Ryan Burge, an assistant professor of political science at Eastern Illinois University and a pastor in the American Baptist Church. Gallup’s data finds that church membership is strongly correlated with age: 66 percent of American adults born before 1946 belong to a church, compared with 58 percent of baby boomers, 50 percent of Generation X and 36 percent of millennials.
Burge said many Christians still attend church but do not consider membership to be important, especially those who attend nondenominational churches. But no matter how researchers measure people’s faith — such as attendance, giving, self-identification — Americans’ attachment to institutional religion is on the decline.