Even the Orthodox face assimilation

Assimilation — away from Jewish life and into secular life — has long been a chief concern of the Reform and Conservative Jewish communities. But it’s not often thought of as a concern within the Orthodox world.

But the temptations of the broader culture are there for everyone. And certainly, Orthodox congregations want to reach the non-observant Jews in their midst.

The “Orthodox Union,”:http://www.ou.org/ which represents Orthodox congregations in North America, has just awarded grants to three synagogues for programs meant to counter assimilation.

One of them is Young Israel of New Rochelle, which will receive a $20,000 grant. Young Israel is setting up five teams — focused on learning, Shabbat, event planning, marketing and finances — that will develop community outreach programs.

An OU committee that awarded the grants released this statement:

“Outreach can be defined in many different ways. It is essentially reaching out to Jewish men and women having little or no affiliation with the synagogue and Jewish community, or to those new to Torah observance, to develop a heightened sense of Jewish identity and identification. By engaging in outreach, the synagogue not only ensures Jewish continuity, but expands the potential to welcome new members, while invigorating its community.�

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.