Things Are Not What They Seem
A recent poll of Jewish Americans indicates that more and more Jews are leaving Judaism for various reasons and that there is little chance, if this trend continues, that American Judaism can survive much longer.
The secularization of the Jewish
community has been developing for some years and is a reflection of the
secularization of the U.S.A., which also affects the majority religion.
At least one reason for this
development is to be found in the very structure of American religious
institutions which have largely become alternative status systems subsequent to
the rise of self perpetuating oligarchies within congregations of all
The word “oligarchy” is Greek and
means “the rule of the few.” This is now generally found in almost any
congregation, as a few have seized the congregation as they use it to enhance
their self image by self promotion at the expense of the vast majority who have
no part in the activities of any of these sects.
example, the “elite” are constantly standing up during the weekly prayer
services so as to be seen. They walk about in the aisles and talk to the clergy
so as to show they are “in” while the common herd sits there and constitutes
a backdrop to the antics of the ruling class.
In this scheme there are the “ins”
and the “outs,” resembling high school arrangements. The “outs” are
expected to pay “dues” but are greeted with abject hostility best described
as having the status of “a skunk at a picnic.”
The function of treating some devotees
with hostility is to ensure that the accepted “in-group” can view itself
favorably. Obviously, no one is “in” unless someone else is “out.”
Therefore, the “in group” depends on designating someone as the “out”
The “outs” may be immigrants or
those who contribute less than others or those who give the “ins”
competition. Particularly those who have achieved a great deal in the secular
world promote the wrath of the congregation “bosses” who cannot tolerate
achievements of others.
Of course, institutions other than
religion are also subject to this kind of tension. Yet, it is most egregious
within religious denominations because they advertise that “all are
welcome,” which, when put to the test, reveals that “things are not what
Every congregation has occasional
visitors who recognize the state of affairs just outlined. Such visitors seldom
return because they don’t want to join those devoted to status jealousies.
Furthermore, there are many who were once members but left their original
“spiritual home” so as to escape the politics inherent in these
Nothing can be done to change this. It
is a function of the need for recognition which drives its practitioners, no
matter what the consequences.