5/11/09

JP: Rabbi Norman Lamm Says "We Will Bury You" to Conservative and Reform Judaism

In 1956 Nikita Kruschev proclaimed about capitalism in the West, "We will bury you!" ("Мы вас похороним!").

In later years the Russian leader clarified and explained that he meant to say, "We soon will say Kaddish on you."

In a Jerusalem Post interview this week, Orthodox Rabbi Norman Lamm has followed in the footsteps of Chairman Kruschev. Lamm once was the President of Yeshiva University and still holds the ceremonial position of Chancellor.

He presents his opinion of the religion of 78% of affiliated American Jews, namely that their faith groups are doomed to die out, "We will soon say kaddish on the Reform and Conservative Movements."

Lamm is paid over $344,400 a year by YU to give one annual lecture (cf. Lamm compensation in 2004). You would think that a person in his cushy circumstances would try his darnedest to stay under the radar and away from any humiliating public controversy. No such luck.
Non-Orthodox Judaism disappearing
Matthew Wagner

The Reform and Conservative Movements are disappearing, Yeshiva University Chancellor Rabbi Norman Lamm said over the weekend.

"With a heavy heart we will soon say kaddish on the Reform and Conservative Movements," said Lamm, head of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

"The Conservatives are in a mood of despondency and pessimism. They are closing schools and in general shrinking," he said.

"The Reform Movement may show a rise, because if you add goyim to Jews then you will do OK," added Lamm, referring to the Reform Movement's policy, starting in 1983, of recognizing patrilineal descent.

The National Jewish Population Survey of 2001 found that of the 46 percent of US Jewish households belonging to a synagogue, 33% were affiliated with a Conservative synagogue, a 10% fall from the 1990 survey. In contrast, the Reform Movement was up from 35% to 38% and Orthodox Jews rose from 16% to 22%. Two percent were affiliated with the Reconstructionist Movement and 5% with "other types" of synagogues.

Sociologists familiar with US Jewry believe that similar trends continue.

"Reform is out of the picture, because they never got into the picture, and the Conservatives are getting out of the picture," Lamm said.

"The future of American Jewry is in the hands of haredim and the modern Orthodox. We have to find ways of working together."

He supports outreach to Reform and Conservative Jews, "but not by watering down what we believe and not by demonizing them either." ...more...
[hat tip to jerry]

2 comments:

Robert said...

Rabbi Lamm may be right -- up to a point. The Conservative Movement is tired and in disarray (I'm a Conservative Jew myself). But I can see some degree of convergence between Modern Orthodoxy and those members of the Conservative Movement who are fairly characterized as "Conservadox." On the West Coast, at least, there seems to be sufficient tolerance and mutual respect to make this possible. But I'm from Northern California and rumor has it that people such as us are not taken seriously as we live west of the Hudson (or at least the Appalachians).

Theophrastus said...

I visited a haredi ba'al teshuva yeshiva a while back, and that's what they told me about Modern Orthodoxy -- it was going to fade away.