Are Politically Conservative Jews "Turned Off" by the Jewish Establishment?:

Ha'aretz publishes an example of a very typical article in Jewish publications these days, accusing the American Jewish establishment of being too conservative, and too supportive of Israel, and therefore turning off young (which is for some reason used as a synonym for leftist) Jews.

I want to raise the opposite issue, which I've never seen addressed in print before: whether what is actually, judged by the "mainstream" American political spectrum, the pervasive liberalism of the American Jewish establishment and laity, including the (non-Orthodox) religious establishment, "turns off" right-leaning American Jews. I can't imagine I'm the only one who has some ideological religious sympathy with Reform Judaism, but can't stand the prospect of going to a synagogue and hearing, e.g., an incredibly ignorant and religiously irrelevant op-ed-masquerading-as-a-sermon on gun control from the rabbi (which, I should note, actually happened to me in a synagogue in the D.C. area).

Moreover, you can't be a "proud conservative" Jew in many congregations without attracting at best pointed questions, and at worst blatant insults, from your fellow congregants. Long-time readers may recall that I have previously posted some anecdotes along the latter lines, though I can't find the links now. Not to mention putting up with the left-wing sermons, left-wing religious action committees that claim to speak in your name, people who won't date you if they find out you're a Republican(!), et al.

Given that conversion to Christianity by American Jews outside of marriage is relatively rare, it strikes me as remarkable that I can name off the top of my head at least three prominent American Jewish conservatives (a small breed to begin with) who converted to Christianity in their later years, and I know of several others who are rumored to have converted, or at least flirted with it. And several major leaders of American conservative evangelical Christianity were born Jews. I'm not questioning the sincerity of any of these individuals' conversions, just wondering whether a (if not necessarily THE) factor that led them to seek another religious community is discomfort with the way individuals of their political ilk are received in the Jewish community.

So, I'm really just wondering: has anyone ever studied, journalistically or academically, "alienation" from the Jewish community among political conservatives, the way folks are constantly ringing their hands about alienation among leftists? If not, it would make a great sociology or religious studies thesis.

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  2. Are Politically Conservative Jews "Turned Off" by the Jewish Establishment?: