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amother






Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 1:14 pm
why are there so many secular Jews? aren't they the overwhelming majority of Jews today? when I say secular I don't mean integrating with the outside world and enjoying music, newspapers, I mean many religious people do that - I mean why are there so many Jews who are not particularly observant at all (eat non kosher, ham etc)?

I'm asking because I'm interested only, like what caused such a large majority of the Jewish people to become non observant of Jewish customs and to feel Jewish in "culture" only? (I'm a "cultural" Jew, etc etc). also, since we believe that following the Torah in every aspect of life is our mission here as Jews and that's what we (try) to do, how do you feel towards secular Jews, who live a different sort of life?

personally I am a BT from a family of 'traditional' parents and lots of secular cousins etc who are all very kind people and though not 'religious', I'm inspired by a lot of them
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Ruchel









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 1:27 pm
Why?

Because they lost faith hence only keep what "makes sense without a G-d" (not stealing etc).
Because they aren't used to keep mitsvos and it's hard to begin.
Because they were never told WHY, so they don't do it.
Because they don't know any better.
Because they don't believe in G-d, or in religion, or in Orthodoxy.
Because it's a revenge against G-d for the Shoah.
Because they do not see the advantages but see the inconvenients plenty.
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zaq









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 1:39 pm
Possibly as many reasons as there are secular Jews.
Because being shomer mitzvos is hard, while human nature is to avoid pain and seek pleasure.
Because when you're a tiny minority, you get tired of being picked on, harrassed, being odd man out, and you think that by dropping religion you will pass for one of the majority.
Because as a rational logical intellect, you don't believe in the mythology and don't feel the need to live your life according to this mythology.
Because you think the purpose of Judaism was to introduce the idea of social justice to the world, and, having done that, religious Judaism has done its job and has nothing more to add.
Because as a child you had many questions that not only weren't answered to your satisfaction but may have resulted in your being told never to ask or even punished, and that resentment remained with you for life.
Because you believe that the Torah is man-made and as such carries no obligation for you to observe.
Because your desire for a mate who happened to belong to another nation was stronger than any attachment you had to your own people and traditions.
Because you had little or no Jewish education and think Judaism is either about gefilte fish or about "being a good person" which you already are.
I could go on and on, but I don't think I need to.

More interesting to me is "What possesses a nonJew living a fine, normal, decent life in Oshkosh to think she or he ought to become a Jew?"
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amother






Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 1:48 pm
what about Jews who grow up in the most secular homes, with no Jewish influence and become religious?
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Ruchel









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 1:49 pm
Good question.

There are many reasons, good or bad.

Falling in love with Judaism.
Falling in love with a Jew who wants a Jewish family.
"All Jews are rich"
"Jews all help each other"
Having Jewish ancestry
Guilt over the Shoah
Wanting to be religious but not believing in Yoshke
A weird "Jewish" feeling

or a mix!

For information, these are reasons I have heard or my DH has heard personally.
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zaq









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 2:05 pm
amother wrote:
why are there so many secular Jews? aren't they the overwhelming majority of Jews today?


In truth it may have always been that way, except that in ancient times maybe the secularists were simply absorbed one by one without a ripple and now they remain visible. Don't forget that 4/5 of Benei Yisrael died in Mitzrayim during the 3 days of darkness and only 1/5 were redeemed. Presumably the 4/5 who died were the "frei Yidden" of their day.
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zaq









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 2:07 pm
Oh, I forgot a very contemporary reason: being angry at G-d because of the Holocaust, or no longer believing in Him at all.
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suzyq









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 2:09 pm
At this point, I think it's mostly because it's all they know. Lots and lots of Jews grow up without any exposure to observant Judaism - they have no clue that there are people who follow the Torah.
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AlwaysGrateful









  


Post  Fri, May 20 2011, 3:32 pm
History, people. (And I'm not a history buff.)

If their ancestors came over before the war (possibly generations before), they "couldn't" keep Shabbos, had no Jewish schools to send their kids to, and were under a lot of pressure to assimilate into American society. Just the second of these could have made a huge dent in the number of kids that stayed frum, but with all three of them together...

If they came over after the war, then it was either (as some prev posters said) that they were upset at Hashem, or just that they were lost, trying to rebuild their lives, and decided that they had to assimilate in order put their lives back in order again. They fell for the line that "This is America, it's nothing like Europe!" Or they were young enough when they came, and lost their parents, so they were unable to hold on what they had never fully internalized.
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zaq









  


Post  Sat, May 21 2011, 10:44 pm
Add to that the spectacular job that Communism did stamping out religion. Very few Jews born in the Soviet Union had any kind of Jewish upbringing.
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DrMom









  


Post  Mon, May 23 2011, 2:46 pm
AlwaysGrateful wrote:
History, people. (And I'm not a history buff.)

If their ancestors came over before the war (possibly generations before), they "couldn't" keep Shabbos, had no Jewish schools to send their kids to, and were under a lot of pressure to assimilate into American society. Just the second of these could have made a huge dent in the number of kids that stayed frum, but with all three of them together...

If they came over after the war, then it was either (as some prev posters said) that they were upset at Hashem, or just that they were lost, trying to rebuild their lives, and decided that they had to assimilate in order put their lives back in order again. They fell for the line that "This is America, it's nothing like Europe!" Or they were young enough when they came, and lost their parents, so they were unable to hold on what they had never fully internalized.

^^^This. At least for American Jewry.

I don't think it's so surprising that someone who did not grow up shomer mitzvot continues to be non-shomer mitzvot. The question is, *assuming that more Jews were observant in the past*, what caused so many to become non-observant in recent generations?

The creation of the Reform movement had a big impact, IMO, on Jews falling from observance, at least among Ashkenazim. Once you have a movement which tells you it's okay not to observe mitzvot, and people start to identify w/that movement, their kids grow up thinking that mitzvot are optional, and it degenerates from there. In contrast, in communities where there was no Reform movement (among Temanim, for example), even those who are not by-the-book observant know their way around a shul, often attend shul, keep kosher, know lots of Torah. They know that they are *supposed* to be observing mitzvot, even if they aren't. The Reform movement told Jews that ignoring mitzvot is okay, 'cause hey, they are optional anyway.
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hadasa









  


Post  Mon, Jun 13 2011, 6:10 pm
Just as a BTW, the Lubavitcher Rebbe disagreed with the term "secular Jew" because "secular" (or "chiloni") means "non-holy", but every Jew by definition is Kadosh. A better term is "non-observant (yet!)"
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