The New American Judaism presents a fascinating approach to Judaism today. Face it, for most Jews comtact with organized Judaism ends at 13 and starts again with marriage and children. For those who do not marry Jews there is a fear that they will be shunned by the community, particularly if the spouse does not either convert or swear to raise the children exclusively Jewish.
Dr. Blecher challenges many "myths" being pushed in the mainstream Jewish world such as the children of interfaith marriages are less likely to identify as Jews and that interfaith marriages themselves harm the Jewish community.
While much the New American Judaism focuses on demonstrating that these "myths" are repeated without any imperical evidence, Rabbi Blecher provides the reader with solid and positive data and anecdotal evidence to show that indeed Judaism is thriving and that interfaith marriages enhance rather than detract from this fact.
Blecher's book should bring American Jews and non Jews in Jewish families (and their families) to a place in which they can see a new and postive and extremely INCLUSIVE approach to Judaism in the US.
A refreshing voice2007/11/23
As one who lost ties to my Jewish identity as a result of the dogma which did not fit, or make sense to me, The New American Judaism provides new hope for a better cultural and spiritual connection. It opens the door to the transformation of the practice of Judaism to those of us who have been disenfranchised by the "traditionalists." I found it very refreshing and reassuring that there is hope that my cultural background may be reconnected to its spiritual roots.
Helping Jewish Americans Help Themselves2008/1/30
Arthur Blecher, rabbi and therapist, proves himself a good historian, management consultant, and writer too. Incisive and clearly put, his analysis exposes a number of myths that impede Jewish life under its relatively recent denominational structure in America. Contrary to common assumptions, the American Jewish population is not declining, nor is intermarriage a threat. If the Reform and Conservative denominations would accept intermarriage as they are beginning to do with same-sex Jewish couples, it would eliminate embarrassing hypocrisy and the alienation of Jewish as well as non-Jewish spouses and their children. Rabbi Blecher also points to the importance of the Internet as a place for Jewish learning and gathering. I was surprised at how much I learned about the history and current workings of my religion. Mazel Tov!
"A must read for every American Jew"2008/9/14
William M. Kurry
I would like to see every American Jew read this book. It is a seminal work on de-mything American denominational Judaism. American Judaism has changed and the old cry of assimilation = no more Jews is the biggest myth.
First, I confess I have not finished the book yet, but did not want to wait to encourage others to enjoy it! Dr. Blecher has a rare gift for intellectual curiosity, perceptiveness, and the courage to speak his mind. When I became engaged to a Jewish man, I agreed to raise our children in the Jewish tradition, but did not want to make a false conversion for the sake of appearances. Everyone asked me if I was converting, though fortunately my in-laws were astute enough to accept that I would be a wonderful wife without doing so. I am overjoyed to encounter a rabbi who sees our commitment to passing on Jewish identity to our children not as a failure or second best, but as a sign of hope for Judiasm.
I am also very pleased to discover Dr. Blecher's careful, impressive scholarship. So many books contain only a superficial nod towards actually doing your homework in service of gratifying the author's ego. It is a joy to spend time in the company of such a learned mind! This book combines a deep knowledge base with fresh ideas about the future of Judaism. I love to see books that make us question our assumptions, particularly when an author is not afraid to challenge an establishment.
His purpose is to make Judaism more meaningful, to invigorate discussion, and get us all thinking. He offers a new perspective on the role of rabbis, synagogues, and Jewish families in their communities. I would love to see this book provoking long needed national and international self-examination for all of us interested in exploring what it means to be Jewish, and what it means to offer this tradition to our children.