American Jewish: The Impact of New Jewish Hybrid to Judaism

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A highly industrialized place like America where everyone is living a fast-paced life will likely influence anyone, even the most religious people on earth.

It's no wonder why immigrants are expected to adapt than to hold on to their traditions. The best example is the American Jews.

Sylvia Barack Fishman, the renowned author of Jewish Life and American Culture described the Jews of this generation as the "new hybrid form of Judaism".

Let's take a look at the impact of American culture to the Jews living in America.

Identity and Religion

Jews are always associated with Judaism as this is their religion just like Islam to Muslims. However, these days, more and more Jews are identifying themselves as atheist.

According to a survey done by Pew Research Center, one in five Jews describes themselves as non-religious or does not have any religion at all.

Jew immigrants have brought their traditions and culture with them. However, today's generation now relies more on educational institutions to teach history to their children. This is why it is no surprise when religion and other traditional practices are changed, if not completely gone. To remedy this, parents often go on kosher tours and Jewish themed vacations to at least give their kids a glimpse of their custom.

But even so, they are still proud of their Jewish descendants. It's just that they are living in a modern world where often than not, certain practices are no longer applied.

Death and Morality

Happiness is something everyone is craving in this lifetime. But one cannot experience real happiness if he or she cannot experience sadness and mourning.

In Irving Greenberg's book Jewish Valves And The Changing American Ethic, he discusses how American culture widely accepts happiness in the sense that they almost deny the existence of death. Even funerals are glorified with pretty decorations and very expensive coffins.

"He looks like he is still alive." or "He's settled alright."-- Those phrases alone manifest how American culture denies death and mourning. But in Judaism, funerals are ceremonial yet remain very natural. There is no embalming and cremation as they believe that the body should return to the ground where they belong just the way they are. Moreover, the burial must be done as soon as possible.

But American Jews nowadays are slowly adapting to the American way of mourning and even do cremation as well.

Intermarriage

Traditionally, intermarriage between Gentiles and Jews was not allowed. However, after the migration to America, intermarriage was slowly accepted.

Now, intermarriage is now widely accepted in Jewish society. Rabbis and other Jewish scholars are afraid that the tolerance of intermarriage may lead to the extinction of the American-Jewish community.

As mentioned earlier, most Jews now claim to be non-religious. Most of the atheist Jews are involved an intermarriage and interfaith marriage.

In a survey done by Pew Research Center, 37% of intermarried Jews said that they are not exposing their children to Jewish traditions at all.

No one can tell if intermarriage has an impact of lessening the religious Jews in America, however, the numbers are evidence that it may be the reason after all.

This is why Rabbis and Jewish parents want their kids to be exposed to their Jewish roots. One great way is through celebrating holidays and vacations through kosher touring. With this, Jewish kids will have the chance to participate in interactive Jewish programs and be exposed to their heritage.