Evanston Jew has written a post suggesting that Jewish philanthropy dollars would be well spent by building an infrastructure for the purpose of socializing amongst Jews that is outside the realm of the religious… a sort of secular meeting place for Jews. He suggests five such projects. His rationale can be summed up by this excerpt:
“A Jew who is not religious or does not attend synagogue on a regular basis can not rely on religious services to provide something of a Jewish social life.”
I could not disagree more.
It's not that I am opposed to his suggestions per se. It's just a question of priorities for very limited resources. It would be a much more efficient use of Jewish funds if they were spent on education.
As for places for singles to meet... why do we need to create a environments that already exist? A center for singles that is Jewish? How so? Because its attendees are born that way? If one is Jewish in name only why not just immerse oneself in the culture and “do as the Roman’s do”?
What exactly is the point of creating a secular environment for Jews? Even if there are secular Jews who do not want to intermarry, I would challenge them and ask them why? What do they need their Judaism for? Why do they care? Marry a non Jew. What difference does it make to them? Does the Jewish philanthropy need to provide a secular environment to advance their secularism?
Of course I do not really want to see intermarriage at any level of observance. I am only pointing out that a lack of education about one's own religion is the key here. One should know why it is not permitted to intermarry. It should not be for some vague notion of... say... of parental disapproval with no basic understanding as to why it is wrong.
That being said, the Torah world is woefully short on providing singles of any age with a legitimate venue for meeting. But it should be done through existing agencies that deal with it. Not by seeking expensive new vistas of limited value.
If one wants to marry Jewish I think it ought to be for the right reasons and that can only come about with education. Otherwise what is ultimately accomplished? True their children will be Jewish but it is highly unlikely their children will even care and they will probably assimilate out in any case. And if not them, then the next generation. We need to stem that tide and creating secular venues will not accomplish that.
Besides, what exactly is the point of two Jews getting married and living a life devoid of any Judaism? …Or Judaism filled with heretical inaccuracies about it such as Conservative or Reform? Even if they practice a ritual or two, in the end it will be totally meaningless and will almost certainly have no meaningful impact on their children and even on less future generations.
If one does not choose the Torah way of life as inherited from our forefathers ...handed down from Sinai, I see little if any value in such a Judaism.
One who has been born into a secular family and not had the opportunity to learn about Torah Judaism should be provided that opportunity. One who knows about it and has rejected it can hopefully find his or her way back. For those who have so totally rejected the Torah that there is no hope of ever winning them back, well frankly, I am not interested in providing them with a secular Jewish venue (not that they would ever want one).
So the bottom line is that spending our resources on the kinds of things suggested by Evanston Jew is an extreme misuse of philanthropic dollars. I would instead promote those very same dollars to be used in education at every level, including adult education... or Kiruv.
As for providing meeting places for singles... Yes! Of course. As I said, we need to do that. And we haven’t done enough. But it ought to be done through the many fine religious organizations already doing it, such as Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis’s Hineni. One of her most successful projects is in getting singles together. If anything that should be expanded upon. But a place like "Makor" (described in Evanston Jew's Post) which is dedicated solely to young people to meet, hang out, and watch movies… Instead of a good Kiruv organization? I don’t think so.