Regarding “Chabad’s Presence Making Big Waves In Oceanside” (Feb. 12), as a former president of a Conservative shul and longtime trustee, I have seen and been saddened by the decline of the Jewish presence in my community, North Bellmore (not far from Oceanside and also competing with Chabad.) The disinterest in and inability to financially support local synagogues, I believe, is based in economics, a lack of knowledge of Judaism and a spiritual disconnect from God in both a communal and personal way.
The testimony of some of the Chabad participants in that they’ve begun to bring Shabbat into their homes is wonderful. I strongly doubt that it will last, as there is no community attachment. Judaism is not a personal religion. It depends on the connections we have to one another and the continual strengthening of our commitment that comes with sharing and urging one another to keep on the path. The sages knew that a single family, by itself, could not be expected to remain observant as is seen by the fundamental requirement of a minyan to enable a complete prayer service.
While the article focused on the education of the children, the real question is where will the adults be when the children are grown?
Synagogue membership can be expensive, but so are many other aspects of life that aren’t food, clothing and shelter. It’s all about making a choice to nurture your soul and connection to the Jewish people or not. The challenge for those of us who believe in the synagogue concept is to help others make the choice to do these things by being open about our love of Judaism and to speak openly to others about how it has enriched our lives. All too often we shy away from this, as we fear being negatively perceived by family, friends and coworkers. Chabad knows this and has come to fill the gap created by our silence. Should we blame them or ourselves?
North Bellmore, L.I.