Teshuva Movement

September 20, 2011

3 min read


Why are so many Jews today turning their backs on Orthodox Judaism?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

You are making an assertion that I don't believe is borne out by the statistics.

Far more Jews are dropping out of other affiliations (fueled by 60 percent intermarriage), while the net gain to Orthodoxy (based on higher birth rates, and "returnees" to Orthodoxy) far exceeds any loss.

It is true that some kids who are raised Orthodox decide to drop out. This is a real minority, and there are many reasons for this, as explored in the book, "Off the Derech" (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1932687432).

However, the far greater trend is for a return to Orthodoxy. The preponderance of outreach kollels and baal teshuva yeshivas has exploded in the past two decades. As an example, in 1975 there were 480 Chabad institutions worldwide; today there are approximately 3,000. You can read a report on this at: http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/world-jewish-population.htm

Consider the following excerpt from New Yorker Magazine:

"The people making this sweeping change in their life grew up in a secular world. They went to good colleges and got excellent jobs. They didn't become Orthodox because they were afraid, or because they needed a militaristic set of commands for living their lives. They chose Orthodoxy because it satisfied their need for intellectual stimulation and emotional security.

"The number of Orthodox Jews is increasing in pockets all over the country. There are more than 1,800 Orthodox synagogues in North America, and about half a million Orthodox Jews in the United States - double the number fifteen years ago.

"Modern Orthodox Jews are lawyers, doctors, bankers, advertising executives, professors, computer experts, artists, writers, and teachers. They are also clerks and secretaries. Many of them are "baalei teshuva," people who grew up with little religious training."

This Jewish return was also predicted prophetically, some 3000 years ago:

"Behold, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine upon the land. Not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but for hearing the word of God. And they shall wander from sea to sea and from the north to the east to seek the word of the Lord..." (Amos 8:11-13)

So the ball is rolling and as the prophet indicates, there is plenty more to come.

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