I am very optimistic about the Jewish future—even though many of the pundits continue to cry gevalt, especially in the face of interfaith marriage and (separately) the decline of affiliation with the institutions of the organized Jewish community. The challenge remains: Will the extant institutions respond to the needs expressed by the generation of Jews in front of us? Perhaps my optimism comes from the fact that I have witnessed the leaders of the current generation firsthand. I was on the faculty and administration of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for fifteen years. And for the last nine years, through seminars and lectures, I have watched the current generation of students at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. And I am proud to say that our older son Avi took his place among the rabbinic ordinees of JTS a little over a week ago.
I often say that the wisdom with which we respond to the challenges in our community will determine the future landscape of the North American Jewish community. In most cases, I am talking about intermarriage and issues of engagement and affiliation. But in this case, I am talking about the challenges the community faces in general. Unlike revelation, wisdom comes from the experience of living and, in this case, leading. It is not part of what has been received on high. Rather, it takes time and effort. So, if you will permit a little boasting and credit it to parental pride, Avi and this generation of leaders will indeed find that wisdom and guide us into a bright future which we can enter with full confidence.