Novelist, playwright and director Herman Wouk is best known for his literary work. But in one of his earliest books, This Is My God, he explains with power and passion his decision to become an observant, orthodox Jew. Now, in his 80s, he has published a second religious book, provoked by a historian friends remark that American Jewry is dying. Wouk understands his friends pessimism Jews are being absorbed into the larger secular culture, or marrying out of the faith, in increasing numbers. Yet at the same time, Wouk sees a growing interest among secular Jews in recovering a sense of their Jewish identity. He is more optimistic.
He ends his book with an admission that if there is to be a revival of what he calls yiddishkeit among American Jews, it will come not from his own orthodox community, with its increasing self-isolation, nor from the Reform or Conservative communities, which he sees as more reactive than pro-active, but from the existing body of strong secular Jewish leaders, now involved in Jewish social services and in support for Israel. It can come, he says, and it will come, if these leaders, as individuals, become, not necessarily religious, but more knowledgeable about their history and culture. The thing is to make a start, he says.