In honor of the High Holy Days, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times decided to pay homage to the grandeur and sobriety of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur by featuring congregations who will celebrate Yom Kippur with goat yoga and Rosh Hashana with discussions of homophobia and Black Lives Matter.
The Wall Street Journal led the way with a piece by Shayndi Raice. The piece reveled in the newfangled methodologies pursued by nontraditional Jewish congregations:
For 2,000 years, Jews have spent Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in a synagogue abstaining from food and drink, fervently praying and beseeching God to forgive their sins. This year, some rabbis, eager to woo younger people to High Holiday services, are holding programs in a beer garden, replacing deep reverential bows with goat yoga and celebrating the end of the season with glow sticks in a mosh pit.
The piece then points out that attendance has been dropping at brick-and-mortar synagogues in the United States for years. The piece does not mention that Orthodox constituency in the United States has been increasing rapidly at the same time, that the average age of Orthodox Jews is a dozen years younger than the average age of non-Orthodox Jews, and that Orthodox Jews marry far more consistently and bear twice as many children. In other words, the dying congregations are precisely the nontraditional congregations that preceded this round of new nontraditional congregations.
But The New York Times plays the same notes in a piece by Corey Kilgannon:
During the service, the Berkowitzes touched on social and political themes including racism, anti-Semitism, Black Lives Matter, climate change and homophobia. After Rabbi Perry Berkowitz blew the shofar, or ram’s horn, the choir broke into an energetic version of “Walking in the Light of God.”
In other words, secular humanism is to substitute for traditional Judaic values discussions, and traditional Jewish services are to be placed to the side, to be invoked only for purposes of multicultural blending.
None of this will draw Jews toward Judaism, because none of it has to do with Judaism per se. It’s warmed-over Leftism with a hint of lox. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur will survive – and have survived – thanks to people who make Judaism part of their daily lives. And those who use goat yoga on Yom Kippur to draw people in aren’t interested in doing that. They’re merely buying into the lie that substituting politics or culture for religious adherence somehow preserves religion, when the reality is the exact opposite.