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The Disappearing Twice-A-Year-Jew

With the COVID lockdown all but over, synagogues are assessing the damages it wreaked. To me, the most important of these is the drastic decrease in Jews that attend services only for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also known as Twice-A-Year-Jews.

Official studies are yet to bear this out, but you can ask your local Shuls, Synagogues and Temples.

There are a number of potential causes, each likely played a role:

• The realization that life went on just fine without High Holiday services (or, in less traditional denominations, Zoom was enough).

• The breakage of routine.

• The speeding-up of, what would’ve been a more gradual, phasing-out of an older generation.

Of course, many of the Jews not attending High Holiday services simply aren’t engaging whatsoever.

But even within involved-Jews themselves, High Holiday attendance seems to be at an all-time low.

While no one would claim that this development, in and of itself, is a good thing from a Jewish-community standpoint, it does point to other characteristics of the current Jewish psyche which I would argue are healthy.

Jews are finding ways to engage beyond the annual rote attendance at what can be misunderstood as morose functions.

• The explosion of Jewish practice in the day-to-day (not just twice a year) allows for a more real value system.

• The accessibility of Jewish wisdom and knowledge via the internet (beyond liturgy) deepens appreciation and equips for real-world challenges.

• The increase in celebrating of other Jewish holidays allows for more joyous entryways into practice. I have no statistics for this either – but any Rabbi from between 1970 and 2010 would be shocked about how well-known and well-kept holidays such as, Simchat Torah, Lag B’omer and Shavuot currently are.

Perhaps joyous, meaningful and regular practice is likelier to inspire the once-a-year-seven-hour-foreign-language-marathon than vice-versa.

submitted by /u/The-Zal-Podcast
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