One of the things we have learned in our research is that children of intermarriage are more likely to gain their “Jewish Education” through secular means. This is an important notion as we consider how to develop programs within the Jewish community that will connect these children to a strong Jewish identity. While we may be able to assume that kids will confront The Diary of Anne Frank sometime during their secular school career, we should also be concerned that their image of Judaism is framed by the Holocaust and anti-Jewish feelings.
That is what intrigued me about Rabbi Malka Drucker’s soon to be published book, Portraits of Jewish-American Heroes. If the book finds its way into synagogues and Hebrew schools, that’s wonderful, but it won’t accomplish the important task of reaching children who don’t have religious school backgrounds - a crucial segment of our community. This is especially significant because we know the central role that modeling plays in the identity development of children. So here is the $64,000 question: How do we get such a book into the hands of those who are not affiliated, who are not part of the Jewish community? This book was not published by a Jewish publisher, so theoretically it has a different distribution system, and that may be a good place to start. But what is the next step?