The Jerusalem Post gives us news that apparently the apparatus of North American Judaism is threatened by this recession. Or at least, the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion rabbinical schools are threatened. It actually does go farther than that, I’ve been told; the URJ is restructuring now, into new sort of units so that the needs of, say, western Canadian Reform synagogues are being addressed primarily from Los Angeles. I’m sure that LA knows intimately the sorts of issues western Alberta might deal with and be able to address them. Anyway.
I would be immensely saddened to see the original Cincinnatti campus of HUC close down, as I’m sad when we lose any piece of our history. The bottom line here, however, is that we’ve faced these kinds of problems before and come out possibly much stronger than before.
When our First Temple was destroyed by Babylon and we were exiled, we turned to the Torah. When our Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans and we were exiled again, we turned to the rabbis and the synagogues as the primary mode of worship. Some of us still pray for the return of the Temple, some of us don’t.
While I would certainly agree that this is an oversimplification, what I’m trying to say here is this: our institutions have been threatened before and survived, and they will again. And no matter what happens, we will emerge. At worst, there might be some radical restructuring required, but if American Judaism is in a state of crisis right now, wouldn’t we need it anyway?
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