One of the most enlightening and disturbing articles on Jewish life that I’ve read in awhile appears in the Spring issue of Lilith, the Jewish feminist magazine, in which Rabbi Susan Schnur interviews her daughter and two other 20-something young women (rabbis’ daughters, each, and observant, to varying degrees). Each attends or recently graduated from liberal colleges.
Asked how they thought their Jewish campus experience would “feel most foreign” to Rabbi Schnur, they had much to say, and their frank responses are sure to be the topic of sermons from those preaching the dangers of our increasingly open society.
The young women said it is considered “racist, or otherwise discriminatory, for a Jew to want to date or marry only other Jews.” They called exclusively Jewish dating “offensive” and “outdated.” And they agreed that the notion of dating a Jew just because he is Jewish is “antiquated.”
They noted that few Jewish students on campus have two Jewish parents, and that the level of Jewish illiteracy among Jews is “extremely high.”
Those nuggets are just for starters. The young women go on to say that religion in general is seen on liberal campuses as “just bad,” and that Jews don’t see themselves as a minority or view society as divided between Christians and Jews.
These young women feel they don’t need a Jewish partner to live a complete Jewish life, and they aren’t looking for Judaism “to prescribe what they should do.
“A shul, a rabbi, those don’t seem so important,” one of the young women said. “We are the text, the text comes from within.”
I admire the self-confidence in one’s Jewishness expressed here, as well as the candor. But before drawing conclusions about a generation based on three samples, I’d love to hear from other 20-somethings about their views on the subject.