The King of Jewish philanthropy announced that modern Judaism has failed the next generation. In a wide ranging interview on Shalom TV, Michael Steinhardt railed on lackluster Jewish education, the truly sad state of American Jewish and Israeli political leadership, as well as younger Jews giving money to non-Jewish causes. I suggest reading the review and watching the interview.
While there is some truth in what he says generally, and we could improve modern Jewish education specifically, especially in making Hebrew School more interesting to the iPod generation, Steinhardt just jumps off and blames every ill in our community upon the system that he believes isn’t worth beans (proven by his lack of putting his money where his big mouth is).
Here is the core of the education critique:
“I think that many of the trends that we have seen – such as the fact that 55-60% of non-Orthodox Jews are marrying ‘out,’ such as the fact that only 15% of total philanthropy of Jews goes to Jewish causes – are reflective of that fact that non-Orthodox Jewish education in America has been, and continues to be, a shandah – an abysmal failure.”
That is it! The Education is at fault. Just like the lack of peace in Israel is the reason why younger American Jews aren’t connected to the state. Yes the reason there are “Jewish barbarians who have never experienced a Shabbat dinner” on your
political buy in Israel Israel experience program is because the education system (which we all know needs work) has failed.
Could it have anything to do with the fact the preeminent Jewish funders have chosen to dump hundreds of millions into a 10 day crash course that caters to so called barbarians?
There is no question that new, innovative ideas need money to succeed. But so do the old ones.
Everyone can complain about the state of Jewish education, but not all of us have the ability to do something about it.
I look forward to the next generation of activist investor type philanthropists who complain about the problem, invest in it and work to fix it. But then again, they probably won’t donate to Jewish causes.
Editor’s note: Please also see a direct response from Ben Weiner at Jewcy: Stop Blaming Hebrew School.