American Jews Should Focus Less on Israel and More on Judaism

October 7, 2013 10:10 am 3 comments

TAGLIT-Birthright participants land in Israel. Photo: Birthright Israel.

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the greatest Zionist leaders ever, once wrote an essay entitled “Without Patriotism,” which he headed with a quote: “Have pity on me that I cannot love.”

He wrote, “The bitter root of our shame and our suffering… is that we do not give our own people the full love of a patriot. It would be better if we did not love our people at all, if we were unconcerned as to whether it existed or had disappeared, rather than that we should love it halfway, which means to despise it.”

In analyzing the results of the first major survey of American Jews in 10 years, we know now that many amongst us cannot love the Jewish people. There is a very high assimilation rate, and generations born as Jews are rapidly losing their Jewish affiliations. If 71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry, two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God, and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year, then many amongst us cannot love the Jewish people. If we claim continuity is important to us, we cannot possibly truly love our people if these numbers are accurate.

We should revisit the question of priorities in our community. Let’s question how important Israel needs to be to the equation of keeping Jews Jewish. The Jewish Agency for Israel recently announced plans to spend $300 million a year on pro-Israel efforts in the United States and other parts of the Diaspora. And if one combines that with the $100 million spent by Birthright, perhaps we could have $400 million that could, and should, be spent on making Jews Jewish (which would of course naturally leave them closer to Israel).

Israel is part of Judaism – but not the only part. How many youngsters who go on Birthright come back and end up marrying outside of our faith anyway? What would the impact be if those funds were spent instead on Jewish education?

A focus on Israel is important for Judaism, but it is not a binder. The new numbers raise a major question for us: If we are losing Jews so rapidly, how many vital Jewish projects will suffer tremendously, including Israel? Israel trips will not make someone feel the desire to practice Judaism. Jewish education and Jewish communities will.

A radical sea-change is required throughout the entire Jewish community’s thought process.

Ronn Torossian owns a PR agency, and is the author of the best-selling PR book, “For Immediate Release.”

3 Comments

  • They say to cut the head of the PROBLEM IS A SOLUTION.
    ISRAEL is the head of the problem.

    where is the leadership and the UNITY?
    Where is the faith and belief in ONE G-D?
    Where is the strength in ISRAELS HISTORY biblical and modern?
    Where is the knowledge of Israel history taught in schools.
    Where is the ‘self’ respect for of a woman not looking for the perfect sex that the goyeem say israelis are easy.
    Where is the Israeli goverment supporting its own treasures not appeasing the xtian church inside the King David Tomb and other holy areas?
    Where is the Israeli Goverment enforsing the ‘anti missionary laws’
    Where is the Israeli goverment enforcing terrorist
    laws against knesset arabs inciting country wide insurrection and revolutions?
    Where is the Israeli goverment standing up for its self respect and not apologgize to every bullys demands for an apology.
    Where is the police enforcing G-DS LAWS AGAINST SUCH PERVERSIONS OF HOMOSEXUAL PARADES IN THE FACE OF THE ‘ONE’ ONLY G-D OF ALL’?
    Where is the Israel goverment refusing/denying entry to every insane culture that claims to be Jewish and brought rape murder robbery into Israel and nothing more.
    where is …where is… where is… the list goes on and on.
    In 65 years all the perversions of sodom and gemorah are being commintted on HOLY LAND
    AND YOU MR AUTHOR HAVE THE AUDACITY TO SPEAK OF AMERICAN JEWS.
    ASSIMILATION IS FAR GREATER PER CAPITA IN ISRAEL.
    YOU DONT EVEN KNOW WHO IS A JEW ANYMORE BECAUSE OF ‘POLITICAL’ FEAR WORLD FEAR OBAMA FEAR.
    AMERICAN ORTHODOX JEWS IS GROWING B’H’
    We walk the streets ashkanaz and sephardic TOGETHER.
    Israel separates like oil and water.
    WE HAVE ‘ONE G-D’ BUT A BROKEN ISRAEL STATE’.

    Hashem will do ‘HIS” wonders to unite us again and it may be a painful remedy.
    WAR IS ALWAYS PAINFUL AND SOMETIMES THATS WHAT NEEDED TO BRING JEWS TOGETHER AGAIN.

    ISRAEL FEARS EVERYONE EXCEPT THE ‘FEAR OF G-D.

    • Israel is the only solution to the problem of the vanishing Jew due to cultural and biological assimilation.By contrast Israel has seen a highly significant increase in both observant and traditional
      Israeli’s. Polls show how observance and faith have increased in Israel over the past decade.Religious Jewish parties now claim a quarter of the voters with the Zionist religious Bayit Yehudi over 9%.
      For the first time agnostic secular Jews form a minority. Jews marry Jews in Israel,and and largely accept Orthodox norms in the national life.(Polls from the Guttman Israel Democracy foundation)
      Whereas in the USA Reform,Conservative and unaffiliated Jews have become a lost generation.
      Birthright may not be sufficiently orientated to observant Jewish identification,to have the effect it should.But can one expect more from American Jews so far removed from their authentic faith?

      Israel is increasingly united between Sepharadim and the
      Ashkenazim.Very soon there will only be one Chief Rabbi.
      The national culture,while tolerant,favors a Judeocentric national culture. In America it is jingle bells around the fake Chanukkah Bush.

      Yet Dacon is impressed by the Anti Israel Satmar movement ,which has given birth to the Lev Tahor sect which has become the laughing stock of Canada(National Post) which claimed refugee status from Israel,because of their antisocial Talaban-like ways.Even in Canada they chose to live away from other Jews.
      Let us not regard them and Anti Zionist fringe movements as anything to emulate .
      I fear that living in the Galut has caused some American Jews,like Dacon, to expect even secular Israeli’s to measure up to the impossible standards that the bulk of Americans of Jewish origin certainly do not live up to, and about which they could not care less.
      At the very least all Israeli’s keep the Mitzvah of living in the Land of Israel!

  • Rochel Chana Riven

    BS”D

    Yashar koach! Well said. I do think many people enrolled in the various schools for baalei teshuvah, etc., after coming back from Birthright and the trips helped many to marry Jewish but I don’t have the numbers. Either way, your point is important and well taken.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.