Nearly 50 years ago, Time magazine, in a report about Jewish opposition to “religious practices” in public schools, described a rise in Jewish secularism that disturbed some leaders of the American Jewish community.

Jewish support for a secular agenda added “fuel to the flames of anti-Semitism,” Time quoted Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Synagogue as warning. “The danger” to American Jewry, said Michael Wyschogrod, assistant professor of philosophy at Hunter College, is not the threat of conversion to Christianity, but “secularism, the disappearance of the word ‘God’ from the minds and tongues of millions of Jews.”

In 2011, the emerging strength of Jewish secularism (or secular Jews, not necessarily the same) that Time wrote about has grown into a presence that represents about four in 10 of the country’s self-identified Jews, according to studies, and which is subject to less criticism from Jewish and outside circles.

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