The Changing Face of the American Jewish Family

By :  Leonard A. Sharzer Associate Director for Bioethics Emeritus, The Finkelstein Institute of Religious and Social Studies Posted On Nov 19, 2018 | Conservative Judaism Gender Interreligious

Co-published by the Louis Finkelstein Inistitute for Religious and Social Studies and JTS Press, and edited by Rabbi Leonard Sharzer and Rabbi Burton Visotzky.

In the American Jewish community of the 21st century, as in the broader American community, the meaning of being a family is changing, often at a pace that communal institutions have difficulty keeping up with. Baby boomers, now in their 50s and 60s, hold positions of communal leadership and authority in the Jewish community. They grew up in mid-20th century America, when much of the institutional and communal Judaism we know today developed. …
Jewish institutions are built around family. That includes physical institutions — synagogues, schools, JCCs — as well as temporal institutions — Shabbat, holidays, lifecycle events (brit, bar/bat mitzvah, aufruf, wedding, funeral). The changing face of the American Jewish family and the consequences thereof present challenges and opportunities to communal leaders. This volume brings together scholars from various social science disciplines, congregational rabbis, Jewish educators, and members of non-traditional families to examine the ways in which communal institutions are responding to new needs, to look at what needs are not being met, and to make recommendations for necessary changes.
—From the Introduction by Rabbi Leonard A. Sharzer, M. D.

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