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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Natan Sharansky Worries about US Jews

Our biggest problem today is the future of American Jews -- 41% of world Jewry.
Sharansky at the President's Conference.

Sharansky at the President's Conference.

Natan Sharansky took the stage at the President’s Conference – he took my heart years ago when the Russians told him to walk straight across the bridge to be released and so, just to show he was his own person, he walked in a zig zag pattern.

I have lived much of my life on the sidelines of Sharansky’s life. When he was imprisoned in the Soviet Union, I was “second in command” of the local chapter of the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. Once I stood beside Avital Sharansky as she attended demonstration after demonstration to get her husband released. All she ever wanted, this quiet woman of grace and modesty – was to live a quiet life with her husband, to have children. I was always worried that by the time they released him, if they ever did, it would be too late.

She had two daughters; she is now a grandmother. She lives the life she wanted and I’m so happy for her. As for Natan Sharansky, he is one of these amazingly smart, funny people. You know, the minute he walks on the stage, that you are going to smile, you are going to laugh. The first thing he did was jump up and down a bit to show that the microphone is way up there, and he, being quite short, was down there. They came and they adjusted the microphone. He began to speak, and I began to type. What follows is my best attempt to type live. There are missing sentences, discrepancies – but hopefully, his voice and humor come through.

Natan Sharansky at the President’s Conference – Tomorrow 2013

You know I am not a diplomat. My first association was my childhood memory from the Soviet Union when children were mobilized to front a celebration – but soon found out that it can be a great tool. When I start talking to people about how we are celebrating 90 years of president – people thought, you Google it, we are almost at the top of the world – average life span of 80 years plus in Israel; Russia is 65 years. So if they make aliyah from Russia, the Jewish Agency pays his trip and he gets a bonus of 15 years.

And people look and see Shimon Peres. 75% of Israelis believe that the future of Israel will be better than today; 70% of Americans. If you make aliyah, the Jewish Agency will pay for your trip and you’ll change from a pessimist to an optimist.

And Israel is the startup nation – and then you look at the statistics. If you make aliyah from France and the Jewish Agency will pay for your ticket – and your children will have a better future in technology and advancement. Aliyah is on the rise

33% increase from US

50% from Hungary

etc.

And so, we really have to continue to celebrate Shimon’s birthday.

Israel has the lowest level of unemployment of any country in the western world.

Clearly increased antisemitism in the last few years – we are dealing with a lot of security of Jews in Latin American, Europe, and Asia. We must continue to watch 20,000 Jews in Turkey, 12,000 in Iran, 10,000 Jews in Venezuela, 2,500 in Morocco, 200 in Yemen.

But if you ask me, where is the biggest problem you are facing – I answer, in the United States. 41% of Jews live in the United States and we don’t know how many will not be part of our Jewish family tomorrow.

And the biggest Jewish community in the world – 43% in Israel. And we still face the de- legitimization of our state. We know the answer is the strengthening of the bond between the communities.

We need to bring more people to Israel – and Israel to more Jews in the world.

Last point – Tikun Olam – fixing the world – someone once asked him – do you have a Hebrew word for Tikun Olam – we have opened centers in Ethiopia, Mexico, Russia – all to teach about Tikun Olam and the betterment of the local population.

….

I stopped typing here because my battery went too low. What I can tell you is that Sharansky spoke of the Jewish concept of making the world a better place – tikun olam – and of the many things that Israel does on a regular basis to make that happen.

He’s an amazing speaker – if you ever get the chance to hear him…go…

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5 Responses to “Natan Sharansky Worries about US Jews”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I pleaded with all of you not to vote for President Obama. I did not support him in the primaries and find him an extremely weak leader.. I don't ask for your agreement but merely point out that I believe Israel needs the protection of the U.S. and that America is losing its prestige throughout the world. Many of you no doubt disagree but I believe the world is laughing at us. We cannot even retrieve a spy who went from China to Russia. Our military and non military secrets are known throughout the world. While our economy seems solid I fear this will not last until the end of the Obama administration. Families are feeling the pain of Obamacare. Small businesses are failing and young families and seniors are struggling. It is amazing how this president doesn't seem to know how to cross the aisle. You may say things were not better under Bush, to this I answer I did not vote for him. I don't know if Romney would have been better but this country is in trouble domestically and internationally. The American population is indeed ignorant in that they continue to elect the same political hacks repeatedly.

    Add to the list Obama's attempt today to dismiss the Snowden as an unimportant incident unworthy of his attention. Here is one of the press reports from Senegal:

    "Obama said he won't engage in "wheeling, dealing and trading" to get Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of espionage, extradited to the USA. "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get to a 29-year-old hacker," he said."

    In reality, Snowden is more than a "29 year old Hacker." He has done more damage to America's ability to prevent terrorists before they strike than any other former government employee. The Russians have gone through his laptops. For all we know, the names of American undercover agents are now known to them, but Obama dismisses the Snowden affair as inconsequential.

    Obama's batting average has been perfect recently, one mishap after another. Ask yourself, who knows more about conducting foreign affairs in a time of real danger, Obama, who got his training as a community organizer, or Putin, the former KJ B officer. This country allows people to have massive pensions while others live in poverty seeking food and medicine. I don't have the answer but certainly this is something to think about during the three weeks.

    America is in trouble and the walls seem to be tumbling down. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG, FORMER PRESIDENT , RABBIS FOR ROMNEY.

  2. Great to have a transcript of Natan's speech. Much appreciated. Keep up your good work. Thank you

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    Yeridim from Israel to the US continue to outnumber olim from the US. For 2012, the number of yeridim to the US was 4,153. The total number of olim from the US and Canada combined was 2,525.

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    " This country allows people to have massive pensions while others live in poverty seeking food and medicine. I don't have the answer"

    You don't have the answer because it conflicts with your blind Republican ideology. Your man Romney is exhibit A here; he amassed a $102 million Individual Retirement Account; most of us are limited to contributing a few thousand dollars a year and how he amassed that much has never been explained. And it is the Republicans who are cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, preventing the expansion of Medicaid, and forcing layoffs and furloughs of government workers who have done nothing wrong.

    ' Snowden is more than a "29 year old Hacker."'

    True. Please explain that to Rand Paul.

    "Obama's attempt today to dismiss the Snowden as an unimportant incident unworthy of his attention"

    That is a lie. The US government is doing everything it can to bring Snowden to justice. But Obama is correct that the US should not go to war over him. Do you think that we should start a war with Russia over Snowden?

  5. Charlie Hall No ones IRA is limited. Only the tax break is. This goes to your lack of information.

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