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The Future of the Eruv Community
The future of the eruv and of the Jewish community in St. Louis Park, in general, is intertwined with the future of American Judaism as a whole, and opinions on this subject can be quite strong. Many people in the Orthodox community are of the opinion that Orthodox Judaism constitutes the future of Judaism. They argue that as marriage outside the faith continues to increase, the number of less observant Jews who pass Judaism on to their children will dwindle while Orthodoxy remains stable and ideologically pure. This is certainly arguable, though it is true that Orthodoxy, in general, is fast-growing and, from observations in the eruv, quite popular; it is also a dynamic and changing movement, as evidenced by the growing popularity of both Haredi and Modern Orthodox groups. However, others such as Wendy Goldberg point out that non-Orthodox groups are still generally thriving and may very well have more staying power than Orthodox opinion would suggest; despite the growth of Orthodox Judaism, the movement still represents a relatively small minority of American Jews. While intermarriage is cited as a threat to the future of Judaism by many people, it is also not unheard of for children of such marriages to be raised Jewish or even for spouses to convert to Judaism. The very fact that this is a topic of such heated debate seems to indicate the continuing vitality of the Jewish faith.
As for the future of the eruv itself, its continued growth seems likely. One issue is the community’s size; young people seeking to eventually marry within the faith are more likely to end up in a community with more Jewish singles. However, while a point of concern for Orthodox Jews, this issues seem unlikely to threaten the eruv as a community. Places like the St. Louis Park eruv seem to stand as forces that will enable all strands of Judaism to endure and be renewed in the future. The eruv reinforces Jewish practices and Jewish values, and residents who might become more assimilated in a different neighborhood are constantly reminded of their faith by living among other Jews in a community with a large and conspicuous Jewish presence. This can certainly have negative effects, such as a diminished capability to live among differing types of people, and it can separate some residents from wider American culture to a large extent. However, the important place of Judaism within the eruv (referred to by multiple people as a “Minnesota shtetl”) means that it will undoubtedly continue to serve as a center of Jewish life in Minnesota and attract more Jews who want to maintain a strong connection with their faith and their community.