29 January 2017

Assimilation From Within the Synagogue?

3 Shevat 5777

(h/t emes emunah)

Worried about young Jews assimilating out of Judaism? Think a stronger attachment via the synagogue will help keep them Jewish? Not if this is what they find there.

A non-Jewish "motivational speaker" is being hosted at The Boca Raton Synagogue in just a few weeks time. Now, before you assume this must be a Reform or Conservative synagogue, because this is the sort of thing we have come to expect from them, think again.
Boca Raton Synagogue is a vibrant, multi-generational, Modern Orthodox Synagogue serving the spiritual, educational and social needs of its diverse members. BRS provides multiple minyanim, comprehensive Torah learning opportunities, an extensive chesed infrastructure, and rich teen and youth programming. The largest orthodox Synagogue in the Southeast United States, BRS is also actively engaged in Outreach, Israel Advocacy, Multi-Level Adult Education, and more. More than just a Synagogue, BRS is a community seeking to inspire individuals and families of all ages, backgrounds, levels of education and observance. (Source)
And this is not just any non-Jewish speaker. Matthew Kelly is a high-profile, very committed Catholic who no doubt credits his faith with giving him the answers to life's questions which he then seeks to answer for the rest of the world.
Matthew Kelly has dedicated his life to helping people and organizations become the-best-version-of-themselves! ...He is also the founder of The Dynamic Catholic Institute a Cincinnati based non-profit organization whose mission is to re-energize the Catholic Church in America by developing world-class resources that inspire people to rediscover the genius of Catholicism.(Source)
What is the message being sent to young Jews with this choice of a speaker? "Judaism does not have the answers you seek, but this wonderful, successful, and wildly popular Catholic does." Will this motivate the young Jews to seek deeper insights from their own faith or to check out the speaker's purported source of wisdom - Catholicism. God forbid! I can't imagine that this is the kind of motivation the rabbi of BRS has in mind, but that is the message he will be sending should he, chas v'shalom, fail to reconsider and cancel this chillul Hashem

We Jews have no lack of successful, charismatic and inspiring motivational speakers whose knowledge and understanding are rooted deep in 4000 years of Torah wisdom. No non-Jew, no matter his resume, can even come close. Let's keep it in the family where it belongs and prove to the young Jews that there is more than enough reason to stay.

Contact info if you feel inclined to give the rabbis at BRS chizuk to do the right thing: Staff Rabbis.