Why Jews Only Go to Temple Twice a Year

Question: What do you say to the stereotype that Jews only going to temple on the high holidays? 

Rabbi Niles Goldstein: As with all stereotypes, I think there are kernels of truth. I think that the stereotype that so many Jews only go to services during the high holidays is sadly true. There are plenty of Christians who only show up, according to my minister or priest friends, on Easter and Christmas. So I think this is a challenge for religious leaders across the board. All I can really do is try to excite and inspire Jewish men and women to see how much power there is in their faith, not just as a two times a year experience but really something that is ongoing, that will help them evolve and grow and will transform and enrich and challenge throughout the course of their lives. And we're not going to do that by beating up on people through sermons, we're not going to do that by getting defensive and reactionary about anti-Semitism, about intermarriage, about assimilation, that's with the previous generation of Jewish leaders did, and it completely backfired. 

What we need to do is excite people by demonstrating through our own work and our own enthusiasm just how beautiful a religion Judaism is them being proactive and not reactive, by being assertive not by being defensive. And I think if we do that we're going to show by example this is really an amazing fit in more and more people will come. And more and more people have come, and that's a good thing. So while the stereotype I think is still around, there are a lot of pockets in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Minneapolis and a lot of cities all over this country who are really vibrant and robust Jewish communities are really thriving and coming out the woodwork in ways that even 20 or 30 years ago they just weren't. And that makes me, as a younger rabbi, very hopeful. I think a lot has happened just in the last 15 or 20 years that has made me much more hopeful than when I was in graduate school.

Recorded on March 15, 2010

It’s a stereotype that’s unfortunately true—and spans many religions.

Car culture and suburban sprawl create rifts in society, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less