Wrong On Secular Jews


Regarding Gary S. Laveman’s Letter to the Editor (“No Judaism Without Religion,” Jan. 13): Sadly, Mr. Lavemen’s letter displays either considerable ignorance or chutzpah or both.

It was a group of socialist-atheist Zionists who founded the State of Israel. Indeed, the majority of the Jewish population of Israel are not synagogue members or patrons.

During the East European Jewish Golden Age — through the 19th century until the middle of the 20th, when Nazism put an end to it — secular Jewish creativity produced not only the political Zionism that created Israel, but also enormous cultural and social achievements. Incidentally, Theodore Herzl was never a member of a synagogue nor were the overwhelming majority of his colleagues and followers, nor were most of the many Jews in the various ghettoes and camps that fought actively against the Nazis.

The secular Yiddish cultural world, in earlier times and currently, has produced and continues to evolve with and to involve an overwhelming majority of non-synagogue Jews. (The sole exception to Yiddish users and lovers of any size are the ultra-Orthodox of Borough Park, etc.)

It’s too bad that Mr. Laveman honors only a small, exclusive group with Jewish identity. It minimizes our peoplehood and its survival. I suggest that he increase his knowledge of Jewish history and of the broadness, variability, creativity and sheer gumption of the various Jewish groups in existence.