I have a great deal of respect for Jews that I know and for Judaism in general (as do most Christians that I know). However, it is also evident that modern Judaism is suffering from a lack of theological purpose. From conversations I've had with Jewish friends -- Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox -- it seems to me that Judaism offers very little to answer the question "so what?" Many Jews I spoke to either don't believe in an afterlife or claim that Judaism as a whole doesn't teach anything about an afterlife. Many also said that the Messiah is only figurative, and that not only wasn't Jesus the Messiah but that there will never be a literal Savior.

All fine and good, but those beliefs leave little reason to be Jewish, and to most (all?) Jews I know Judaism is more of a culture or ethnicity than a religion of substantial spirituality. It's no surprise to me, then, that Jewish leaders are panicking about demographics as Jews intermarry with Genitiles and the children of such unions rarely identify as Jewish.

It is one of the most commonly understood notions about Judaism that its adherents do not proselytize. And yet there in the Boston Globe last week was the headline: "Conservative Jews Set a Conversion Campaign." What was going on?

As it happened, Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, the head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, had set a somewhat limited campaign. At the group's convention he had urged: "We must begin aggressively to encourage conversions of potential Jews who have chosen a Jewish spouse."

Such a desire has more to do with practical reality than with theology. (Gentiles still do not need to become Jews in order to live according to God's wishes.) With the intermarriage rate at about 47% and less than 8% of children of intermarried couples actually identifying as Jews, it is easy to see why the chosen people are in a state of demographic panic.

Honestly, it's amazing to me that Judaism has survived so long after its primary earthly purpose was fulfilled, that of bringing about Jesus' life and sacrifice. There are no more Moabites or Philistines, yet the Jewish people continue to prosper -- how? The only explanation I can think of is that God has promised numerous times to care for his Chosen People, and so they continue to survive despite being so reviled by much of the world throughout history. Eventually they will come into their full inheritance.



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