I’d like to offer a much simpler proposal: Just stop dumbing down Judaism. American Jews overwhelmingly receive excellent secular educations; they are exposed to the most challenging, rigorous, thought-provoking material available in science, philosophy, history, and literature. Yet they rarely encounter Judaism at a level more intellectually challenging than a kindergarten class. And as long as that’s true, Judaism will never be able to compete with the secular world for their attention.The author goes on the attribute the sustaining power of Orthodoxy to the seriousness which we devote to study. She writes:
But in the non-Orthodox community, Jewish education never comes close to the intellectual rigor of secular studies. Almost every American Jew who has attended a non-Orthodox Hebrew school can attest to this; just last week, the Forward ran a piece by an associate professor, Michah Gottlieb, deploring the lack of opportunities for serious Torah study at his childhood synagogue. My own experience is equally typical: During 12 years of Hebrew school, the numbing boredom was punctured by only two classes that offered comparable intellectual stimulation to my secular public schools–and both were taught by Orthodox rabbis. The difference was that they took classic Jewish texts seriously, insisting that we read, analyze, and debate them with the same rigor I encountered in secular history or literature classes.
The problem is that it’s hard to make the effort to delve into texts when you’ve been constantly told that these same texts reflect no more than the imaginative fancy of misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, superstitious males whose agenda was the preservation of their own power within a hierarchical and patriarchal system. When you are so busy reforming and reconstructing what you don't like about Torah and mitzvos, it's hard to make an about face and think that there is something there worth paying attention to.