Freedom: The Promise And The Challenge

"Freedom to observe, freedom to neglect," in the words of one 19th-century rabbi

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And yet Rabbi Harris, neither the first nor the last Cassandra on the subject of American Jewish survival, worried too much. Even as a substantial share of Amer­ican Jewry leaps from the marital altar into the melting pot, another portion enjoys a religious renaissance that derives its energy and many of its models from the Or­thodox sector. From day schools to Hasidic praise songs, from daf yomi Talmud groups [that study a page of Talmud every day] to glatt kosher bistros, this revival touches observant Jews in every denomination.

Three hundred fifty years from the beginning, we have learned that American freedom is capacious and indis­criminate enough to enable virtually anything the Jews of Lakewood--or for that matter--Brookline or Great Neck or Skokie or Pico-Robertson or Buckhead--have in mind.

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Samuel G. Freedman

Samuel G. Freedman, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, is the author most recently of Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry (Simon & Schuster), winner of the National Jewish Book Award.