In a recent interview with the Jerusalem Post, among a number of interesting comments, R. Norman Lamm said “With a heavy heart we will soon say kaddish on the Reform and Conservative Movements.” I keep wondering whether Lamm was speaking in hyperbole or that he really believes that in the near future HUC, the URJ, JTS, and the USCJ are all going to close their doors. Are all of these institutions and movements facing severe financial and ideological crises? To varying degrees the answer is yes. Is there a serious possibility that they are going to close their doors? No. There may be a serious reorganization, but there is no way that Reform and Conservative Judaism are just going to disappear. If Lamm was hoping for a large influx of congregants and supporters with no home, he’s going to be waiting for a long time. In the past two hundred years the majority of the Jewish people have voted with their feet and declared that Orthodoxy is not for them. See here for a discussion by Samuel Heilman of the demographics of Orthodoxy in America. For a discussion of general trends in demographics and affiliation see this post at Three Jews. As numerous commentators have pointed out, the largest denomination among American Jews is “unaffiliated.” What Lamm may not understand is that there are many Jews who are seriously committed to Jewish learning and observance who just don’t see their home in Orthodoxy. Whether it is the issue of egalitarianism, how flexible halakhah should be, theology, take your pick, they are not going to be writing checks to YU in the future. Back in the day Dennis Prager used to say that we need Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and I would add Reconstructionist, Jewish Renewal, Post-denominational, etc, because they all contribute something important to Jewish life. While I may not daven at some shuls, I sure am glad that their doors are open for those who do want to enter. I would agree that Reform and Conservative Judaism, along with much of American Judaism, will probably look very different fifty years from now, but if Lamm wants to bury the Reform and Conservative movements, maybe he should make sure and say the Kaddish de-Itchadata, which while recited at a burial, speaks of renewal.