Letters to the Editor: Judaism’s future

Both Archie Gottesman (Commentary, Dec. 8) and Meredith Musen-Johns (Letter to the Editor, Dec. 22) express concern for Judaism’s future. That’s good news. But they seem slightly lost when they reject the notion of G-d as central to Judaism and in Ms. Musen-Johns’ case object to the use of “non-negotiables.” But in reality I would venture to guess that Ms. Musen-Johns supports non-negotiables when it comes to issues of survival. After all, we instruct our children in absolutes; for example, we tell them not to run across the street when the light is red. In that context, we should also instruct our children that the Commandments are not an à la carte menu and that we perform mitzvot because we are so commanded as Jews. If any doubts persist, Maimonides (the Rambam) laid it out for us in his 13 Principles of Faith.

I was nonetheless moved to read how Ms. Musen-Johns was impacted by her visit to Auschwitz and how it has kept her flame alive. She clearly does not wish to give Hitler a posthumous victory. But what kept the flame alive for nearly three millennia before Auschwitz and what can keep the flame alive after Auschwitz? Not relativism but non-negotiables. So to paraphrase Ms. Musen-Johns, if you wish to have Jewish grandchildren one day, start making it less about what the kids might want once they find themselves and make it more about those non-negotiables. Let’s begin with this one: The Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.

Paul Hauptman

St. Louis