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Permit No. 1206
The Charlotte
Vol. 17N0.8
Elul 5755/Tishrei 5756 September 1995
First in a Series-
American Jewish Life In 50 Years
Is There A Demographic
Time Bomb?
By Yosef I. Abramowitz
“Rabbi Yohanan said: Since
The Temple was destroyed,
prophecy has been taken away
from the prophets and given to
fools and children. ” — Talmud
For five years on Monday
nights, Jewish identity issues were
dramatically and amusingly played
out on “Northern Exposure,” the hit
CBS series about a New York Jew
ish doctor living in small-town
Alaska. Was Dr. Joel Fleischman
going to live with Maggie
O’Connell? If so, would their home
be a Jewish one? How do you de-
fme who’s part of your community
and who can say Kaddish for the
dead? And can importing bagels
from New York maintain one’s Ju
daism far from the centers of Jew
ish life? Fleischman wrestled with
these issues, escaped finom them and
ultimately returned to New York.
“Mazal tov,” says O’Connell as Joel
re-enters the land of his ancestral
past, leaving her behind.
The tension between the Jew
ish doctor and his non-Jewish love
interest, and their struggle to ac
commodate his troubled yet un
yielding Jewish identity, may hold
a clue in real life to what Jewish
life might look like in SO years here
in the “lower forty-eight.”
*The decisions we make today,
where to allocate money and to
what projects, will affect the Ameri
can Jewish community for genera
tions to come,” says Professor
Robert Chazan, chair of the depart
ment of Hebrew and Judaic Stud
ies at New York University and
chair of the Graduate Fellowships
Committee, which funds graduate
training for future Jewish leaders.
‘To have the greatest impact, how
ever, we must think not S or 10
years down the line, but 25 or 50.”
A peek at the future, at Rosh
Hashana 5805 (2045 C.E.) is im
portant as the Jewish community
today takes stock of 5755 and as
sesses its priorities. And despite the
fact that “Northern Exposure” was
canceled last season, the prognosis
about the Jewish future may not be
all bad. But that all depends upon
who you ask.
“When the United States cel
ebrates its Tricentennial in 2076,
the American Jewish community is
likely to number no more
than 944,000 persons,
and, conceivably as few
as 10,420" Elihu
Bergman, the assistant
director of the Harvard
Center for Population
Studies, wrote in Mid
stream in 1977, unleash
ing a storm of debate and
eventually widespread
rebuke. While Jewish so
ciologists and demogra
phers are split between
optimists and pessimists,
none of today’s pessi
mists come close to
sounding the death-knoll
as does Bergman. But even the op
timists, like Steven Cohen, a profes
sor at the Melton Center at Hebrew
University, predict that in 50 years
the 5.8 million strong American
Jewish community of 1995 “will be
smaller than it is today.”
Here are the grim vital statistics:
Half of all weddings involving
a Jew are to a non-Jew and that
number exceeds 2 out of 3 in many
“new frontier communities” like
Los Angeles, Colorado and in
smaller Jewish communities, like
Alaska, where there are 3,000 Jews
The Jewish population is increas
ingly moving out of high density
Jewish cities to places where there
are fewer Jews, so the interfaith
marriage rate is likely to climb even
higher. Of the interfaith marriages,
more than two thirds of the children
are being raised in another religion
or with no religion. “Almost all,
over nine in ten by my calculations,
of the grandchildren of today’s
mixed marriages will not identify
as Jews” says Cohen. Intensifying
this demographic time bomb is the
lowest fertility rate in the country
of any religious group. If there was
no interfaith marriage, the commu
nity would still be shrinking.
Professor Vivian Klaff of the
University of Delaware, a moder
ate in the demographic debates.
Intensifying this
demographic time
bomb is the lowest
fertility rate in the
country of any religious
group. If there was no
interfaith marriage, the
community would still
be shrinking.
projects a Jewish population that
will shrink about 15 percent to a
little over 4 million people in SO
years. **Lowered fertility combii^
with an aging population, and an
increasing level of assimilation is
likely to lead to a decline in the
population,” he writes in a forth
coming study of the Jewish family.
And in their new book on Jewish
life, Jews and the New American
Scene, Seymour Martin Lipset and
Earl Raab predict that the cohesive
body of Jews will not only be a
smaller portion of the American
population by the middle of the next
century, it will be smaller in abso
lute numbers.”
Despite the strong negative
trends in Jewish life, however, there
are optimistic and youthful voices
who contradict the conventional
“There will be 7-8 million
Jews in 50 years,” says Abby Hol
land, 18, the immediate past presi
dent of the Reform Movement’s
National Federation of Temple
Youth (NFTY). Her optimism is
echoed in different degrees by An
drew Ashkenazi, 17, head of the
Hadassah-sponsored Young Judaea
youth movement; Eitan Gulton, 18,
head of the United Synagogue
Youth (USY) of the Conservative
movement and by Jeffrey
Greenber;g, 18, head of the National
Council for Synagogue Youth.
See Time Bomb-page3
Blumenthal Jewish
Home Kicks-Off
Charlotte Annual
By Seth D. Levy • Executive Director
In August 1994 the Blumenthal Jewish Home initiated an Annual
Drive in the Charlotte Jewish community to raise money for its Endow
ment Fund. The drive was very successful, raising over $40,000 while
securing fmancial commitments for future gifts. In September 1995 the
Home will once again ask members of the Charlotte Jewish community to
open their hearts, allowing the Home to continue the Mitzvah of provid
ing the highest quality of care to residents in a safe, warm, home-like
Jewish environment.
The goal for this year’s campaign is to raise an additional $50,000
from the Charlotte Jewish commimity. These funds will go into the Home’s
Endowment with interest from the endowment being used to underwrite
the cost of medical care for some 57 indigent residents. Currently sixty
(60) percent of the Home’s residents are medically indigent. Since it is
the policy of the Blumenthal Jewish Home to continue to provide care
for our residents even after they have run out of money, this results in an
annual deficit of $5(X),(X)0 in costs that is not reimbursed by Medicaid,
Medicare and Specis^ Assistance. Currently fourteen (14) Jewish com
munities are contributing fifty (50) percent of the deficit but we desper
ately need the continued financial support of individuals and families
living in the Charlotte Jewish community. The Home faces many chal
lenges as we enter a period of health care reform. Lower reimbursement
rates, numaged care and tougher regulations all will have an impact.
The Chairperson for the committee overseeing this campaign i$ Stah
Greenspon. He is joined by committee members Audrey Madans, Evelyn
Berger, Ruth Goldbeig and Bennett Lyons. These dedicated volunteers
have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this campaign. Twenty-
five (25) individuals have volunteered to become solicitors for the Home
and will be contacting members of the Charlotte Jewish Community, ask
ing for support for the Home 5 Endowment.
Thank you in advance fw your generosity and mostly for your car
ing. I know that it is impossible to contact all members of the Charlotte
Jewish Community and if you are interested in making a contribution to
the Blumenthal Jewish Home’s Endowment Fund, or would like to re
ceive additional information, please contact one of the committee mem
bers listed above or Seth D. Levy, Executive Vice President at (910)
CAJE Announces Melamed Winners
Sheri Leonard, Linda
MacDonald, and Wanda Schwartz
were recently named the first armual
recipients of the Carolina Agency
for Jewish Education (Charlotte,
NC) Melamed of the Year Award
for their outstanding volunteerism
on l)ehalf of Jewish education.
Each nominee was selected by
a Shalom Park religious school as a
noteworthy individual who made
major contributions to the cause of
Jewish continuity for their respec
tive school and the community by
enriching the Jewish educational
envinmment and setting an example
of excellence.
Sheri Leonard, Charlotte
Jewish Preschool’s award winner
was cited for her work as the found
ing (Dhairperson of the school’s Par
ent Teacher Organization (PTO)
during the 1994-95 school year.
Debby Block, Director of the Char
lotte Jewish Preschool described
Sherri in her letter of nomination as
the person who “singlehandedly in
spired the entire parent body to be
come actively involved with their
children’s education. Sherri’s lead
ership of the PTO promoted posi
tive parental attitudes toward the
Preschool and toward Jewish edu
cation. Through Sherri’s infectious
enthusiasm and diligence, the Pre
school has become a strong, hap
pier and financially stable Jewish
community organization.”Linda
MacDonald, selected by Temple
Beth El Religious School was de
scribed by Temple Beth
See Winners-page 7
In The News
JFS Pa*e4
Book Review »^.Page 6
Point of View^^..Pagel4
JCC....... ^Pagc 20

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