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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Should Israel Help Save America’s Jewish Community?

Israel has invested more than $125 million trying to bring young Jews to visit, with meager results.

Israeli olah proudly showing their new ID cards. Instead of investing in strengthening Jewish centers in diaspora, Israel must focus on one narrow mission: bring everyone home.

Israeli olah proudly showing their new ID cards. Instead of investing in strengthening Jewish centers in diaspora, Israel must focus on one narrow mission: bring everyone home.
Photo Credit: Oren Nahshon/FLASH90

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On the list of really difficult dilemmas, this has to be in the top 10. Should the State of Israel, fast becoming the biggest—and certainly the most Jewish identified—Jewish center in the world, make an effort to save the second largest Jewish center from disappearing?

According to an AP report Monday, headlined “Israel reaches out to save US Jewish community,” more than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month to discuss the “daunting mission” of saving Jewish life in North America.

In my opinion, Israel must invest only in one, narrow, even narrow minded effort: bringing Jews from the West to Israel, before it’s too late. Be the immigration country you’re supposed to be. Instead of spending money on strengthening Jewish identity in countries where such an identity is borderline meaningless—create better incentives for Jews to make Aliyah.

The economic crash is not going away any time soon in the U.S. and Western Europe, even as things look less terrible than they did 5 years ago. Israel should make it its business to entice a million Western Jews to make the move, by offering them a better life in the Jewish State.

Having made the move myself, with my family, only two years ago, I can tell you that besides the great weather and spiritual advantages, Israel also has a robust economy, where an educated Jew can make a future for himself or herself, and a fantastic healthcare system, where no one, but no one is left behind. But Israel should invest in making its system easier for newcomers to navigate, and, most crucially, create attractive housing opportunities across the country.

According to AP, Israel has invested more than $125 million trying to bring young Jews to visit, as a way of strengthening their ties with the Jewish homeland. More than 300,000 young Jews from around the world have been brought over by Birthright, with funding from Israel and Jewish philanthropists.

But studies show that the effect of the trips is usually short termed.

It’s no secret that assimilation and intermarriage are shrinking Jewish American communities at an ever faster pace, the notorious Pew study has found that young American Jews are growing increasingly estranged from Judaism.

Moreover, many American Jews, especially the younger ones, who are mostly socially liberal, have serious doubts about Israel’s security policies. Would they accept help from Israel, which they’re often more likely to boycott?

American Jews who are anti-Israel have reached that position over two or three key issues, all of them born by media distortion and outrageous political hypocrisy: the right of Jews to live in the disputed territories; the right of women to pray at the Kotel wearing talit and tefillin; and, maybe, Israel’s African illegal migrants problems.

“An Israel which doesn’t address these issues is an Israel which in the long run endangers the relationship with world Jewry,” Donniel Hartman told AP. He said Jews who don’t believe Israel shares their liberal values may disconnect from it.

It used to be that U.S. Jews saw themselves as Israel’s lifeline, raising millions of dollars and lobbying government on its behalf. At least that was the common perception. But today Israel is an affluent country, with a thriving economy, a stunningly innovative high tech industry, and the strongest army in the Middle East.

It is also the superior intellectual and religious center of the Jewish world, far exceeding the accomplishment of the U.S. Jewish community. And so, despite the fact that many American Jews aren’t happy with it, Israel is the natural choice when it comes to saving their communities from oblivion.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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39 Responses to “Should Israel Help Save America’s Jewish Community?”

  1. Stephen Boak says:

    Yes, i believe they should be their to support them & help anyway possible, just as it also helps jew, christian or arab in Israel, dont forget your neighbours in there day of trouble.

  2. Wessel Erwee says:

    They should!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


  4. Add up all those KKL pushkes, the decades of IEF (It was ALWAYS an emergency) drives, add 5% interest, ship it back, and write us off. Really, after 30 years of republican sabotage and obstruction, we could use it. When I started sending money to Israel, I couldn’t yet read the comic books my grandfather gave me 11 cents to buy: the comic books cost 10. By the time I was in the first grade, I’d filled 2 pushkes. Whenever we did anything, any activity, any treat, something went in the pushke. Sending money to Israel was something we brought with us from Russia. Just return the loan and write us off. Or show a little menschlichkeit. Either Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh La Zeh, both ways, or Medinat Israel is just another bunch of annoying foreigners.

    Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/should-israel-help-save-americas-jewish-community/2013/12/17/


  6. Carolin Knox says:

    The way Israel can help all Jews is to keep building……the day will come when we need to come to Israel, and will need more housing!

  7. Also, bringing kids to Israel isn’t aimed at saving the diaspora community, but at encouraging aliyah and future contributions, i.e., a self-interested investment.

  8. Best most cost effective way is persecution. Let young Jews also know what is wrong with alternative religions (usually behind persecution and not ‘friends’.

  9. They are not neighbors.

  10. …should help who and how?

  11. What?Americans should help Americans???

  12. Rina Gray says:

    I don't think we should. First of all many Jews in USA didn't want to be "saved". They didn't see themselves as a victims, porbably up to the time. when they get punch in the face by black teenager. We have enough of lefties Jews in Israel. We don't need more. We are welcome everyone, who want to be Jew and live in Israel, but if they think they have to be more special, than any other Jews olim, they are wrong. Israel can be good for people, who want to be Jews and who come to Israel not for the free ride and money. There is not allot of money in Israel.But we are all Jews there and if someone try to punch us, we fought back.

  13. why is it even a question? we must all return home!!!!!

  14. Matt McLaughlin says:

    israel is high on somethin'. Who wants to live in that dusty occupied island where 1.5 billion muslims want you dead?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Great idea, the sooner the west is rid of its Jewish problem the sooner we can correct all the destruction that these people cause. There is a reason these people have been removed from 109 countries through out history.

  16. Robin Rosenblatt says:

    It is important to do, but many Jews here know little about Israel and have abandon Israel. I been asking Jews to help with the Israel Longhorn Project <http://longhorproject.org&gt; and their response has been very poor. The other day I was ask how a 19 year old Christian could join the Israeli Army. I gave the family the information. It just shows the problem in the Jewish Community many of them think Islam is a religion of Peace when it is a religion of hate, violence and war!

  17. Wanda Haugen says:

    Your comments make me cry. You have a great history…you have overcome inumerable odds. Do you even care?? Israel is not a problem..She is a blessing!!!

  18. Marsha Roth says:

    This comment is shameful:
    “It’s clear to us that if you are not part of the Orthodox world and are not connected to Israel, you assimilate,” said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency. “We need to show how much your life is more interesting, more significant if part of your identity is also a deep connection to Israel.”

    The United Jewish Appeal gave a Bronze Medal to my Grandfather, Abraham Roth, in 1962 for 25 years of raising huge funds for Israel. My Grandfather escaped the pogroms in Europe as a boy & came to NY. My Grandmother followed with her older brother. Her 2 other brothers went to Israel about 1904. Regardless of where my family went, we are ALL caring respectful Jews! My daughters went to Hillel Hebrew Academy. Millions of Jewish families love & support Israel! We are Jews wherever we live. If raising money to help Israel & practicing Judaism anywhere in the world isn't enough for Natan Sharansky, let him try it without American Jewish support! Shame on his narrow minded criticism!

  19. Dan Silagi says:

    Israel is indeed an affluent country; part of the industrialized West. At least secular Israel is; haredi Israel is another story altogether. Why would a young secular American Jew want to leave a democracy for a theocracy, where he (or she) would have to jump through rabbinical hoops in order to get married there?

    If you want more young Americans to make aliyah, the first step should be to eliminate these barriers and truly make Israel a welcoming place for all Jews, but especially secular Jews.

  20. James Johnston Ferguson says:

    yes YIsrael should protect anyone who is jewish ! especially America..

  21. Not to sound like a greedy gentile, but American life is improved by Jewish people. If you take the Jews out of America, America gets a bit more lame. I know you guys have to think about your own culture, but the diaspora have done many great things in their countries. Why can't you guys just secretly declare that all of earth is holy and all of earth is Israel, eliminating the diaspora? Dual-citizenship? I'm begging you guys. Don't leave! We need you.

  22. Stephen Morgan says:

    It's not dusty!

  23. Bobby Harris says:

    i believe that soon all of the jews will be going home to Israel one thing since the committee is now discussing plans I can see that soon they will have what is called MASS EXODUS just like it was in the time of moses when he led the jews out of Egypt to the land of Israel it will hit here soon as the economy is getting much worse now America is falling apart and will soon will be entrapped with bad things to happen here. and its not getting better 2014 will be much much worse than 2013,much worse so better be ready. I think its time to get all of the jews out and back home to Israel at once where they will be safe. and get jobs as there is hardly any jobs here in America jews will get laid off and lose jobs home car everything its bad here……same as all other American gentiles too

  24. Yori Yanover says:

    Roasted Locust · From a universal and religious point of view, America and the world will only benefit from a massive Jewish immigration to Israel. God tells us through the prophets that His message is delivered through the Jews to the rest of the world. When we rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem, the whole world will be elevated spiritually: For My House will be a house of prayer for all the nations, Said God.

  25. Yori Yanover says:

    Dan Silagi · You'd be surprised what a million American Jews can do to improve the shortcomings you describe. To date, Israel has been transformed by the Polish-Eastern European aliyah of the 1920s, the German aliyah of the 1930s and the Russian aliyah of the 1980s, as each massive aliyah practically transformed the country.

  26. Glenn Becker says:

    Young American Jews are turning against Israel–NOT against Judaism–for the same reason that young Americans turned against South Africa a generation ago: its apartheid subjugation of a weaker people, which the author distorts as "the right of Jews to live in the disputed territories."
    Americans, including Jewish Americans, have struggled for centuries to purge our racism, and we yet have far to go. Why would we want to get ensnared in Israel's racism? For the weather? To join its draft-dodging Haredim? A nation "led" by a Netanyahu is not likely to attract many Americans; it's more likely to lose Israelis. Save American Jews? Laughable!

  27. Yori Yanover, yeah, I know that's how it's supposed to go down, but I have this fear that when all the eggs are in one basket, the ones who want to smash the eggs will have an easier time doing so. My faith would have to be very strong for me to overcome that fear if I had a family. Of course, a person with faith knows that Jewish people are not eggs that can be smashed. They're more like Weeble-Wobbles. Weebles may wobble, but they don't fall down. My history teaches me that as many times as they've been pushed down, they always got back up, so maybe I'm just a pessimist. Sorry, this isn't really a place for me. My concerns and worries should remain my own. I do wish and hope for the best though.

  28. Ivan Cohen says:

    The comments make for interesting reading. Glenn Becker's take-the-cake with his comparison to SA and his reference to racism. Others that focus on the extent of religious influence on daily life are perhaps a little misguided.
    There are practical realities that play a significant role in decision-making. I'm sure there are many, many Jews living in Europe, the US and elsewhere that would make the move. However, the shortage of acceptable and affordable housing / accommodation has become a serious deterrent.

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