The End of The Golden Era?©
"The main thrust of Jewish demographic change over the . . . post-World War II period, and more intensely since the 1990s, included overall quantitative stagnation at the global level, considerable aging due to comparatively low fertility rates. . . and a dramatic migration . . . from Muslim countries and Eastern Europe to Israel, and to . . . western countries. In turn . . . negative balances of . . . births and deaths, and of weak propensities to raise (as Jews) . . . the children of intermarriages, further impacted Jewish population size and distribution. . . . Entire Jewish communities dried up completely . . . and others shrank significantly. . . Israel, from a relatively small and marginal Jewish community at the end of World War II, emerged (with the United States) as one of the two leading centers of world Jewish population, . . . In the US, however, much because of the same reasons . . . the historical momentum of Jewish population growth reached a standstill at the end of the 20th century."
Prof. Sergio DellaPergola
In his book, Jewish Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin tells of the 1964 Look magazine cover story entitled, "The Vanishing American Jew." Its demographic observations paralleled those of DellaPergola (above) in painting a bleak picture for the future. Commenting on the story, Telushkin offered up a quote from his friend, Michael Medved, who said, "It is now more than thirty-five years later. Look at the Jewish people, and look at Look magazine."
DellaPergola, Look magazine, and Medved frame a long running debate about the future of Judaism, a future which inherently reflects on the prospects for high levels of Jewish Achievement. Is the Golden Age secure or endangered? Will it continue or fade? Many pick up on Telushkin's implied perspective, expressing confidence about the future while others are alarmed. To explore this topic, first consider the reasons some expect Jews to continue to thrive. Then contemplate the threats which may bring the Golden Age to an end....