I refer you to three important articles that raise questions and challenges concerning Jewish well-being in Europe and America.
The first is a provocative piece that appeared in The Huffington Post that recalls the classic Jewish fear that we are an “ever-dying people,” yet it shines a light on the specific challenges facing liberal American Jews today on the one hand as well as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of America on the other.
The second is an investigative report in The Atlantic on the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and what might be the future of Europe’s remaining Jews.
The third is a short op-ed that appeared in New York’s The Jewish Week, concerning the attack on American Progressive Zionists by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). My predecessor at Temple Israel of Hollywood, Rabbi Max Nussbaum (z’l), served in the 1950s as the President of the ZOA. He was a German refugee, a prominent Zionist and social activist, and, as his widow Ruth told me several years ago before she died at the age of 98, her husband Max would have been appalled had he lived to witness the behavior of the current leadership of the ZOA in its brazen slander against progressive American Zionists leaders.
Historically, we Jews often have been contentious with each other, but when threatened, we have usually pulled together as one. Not so today, it seems.
The threats today against the Jewish people, Judaism and the state of Israel are coming from a number of different places, including the international BDS movement, Islamic anti-Semites, classic European anti-Semites, terrorism, and Iran.
Internally we’re threatened by assimilation, Jewish ignorance and passivity, the Israeli settler movement and its supporters in the new Israeli government, and a lack of resolve to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
These articles are likely to disturb, as well they should!
1. Bad for the Jews, Bad for America – Huffington Post – Sandy Goodman (retired producer for the NBC Nightly News), May 26, 2015
“The American Jewish community is coming apart at the seams. Its vital center is collapsing, and the entire group is increasingly polarized by runaway growth at both extremes: religious fundamentalism on one end, secular non-belief on the other. The result is not only bad for the Jews, but bad for the rest of America.”
2. Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe? – The Atlantic – Jeffrey Goldberg, April 2015
“For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest examples of rising violence against Jews. Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalized Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.”
3. ZOA Has Gone Too Far in Criticizing Progressive Zionists – The Jewish Week – Kenneth Bob and Gideon Aronoff – May 22, 2015
“The Hatikvah Slate [the Progressive Zionist slate in the World Zionist Congress Elections] – Ameinu, Partners for Progressive Israel (PPI), and the Zionist youth movements Habonim Dror and Hashomer Hatzair – have and will continue to actively oppose the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. But we were forced to waste over four months and significant financial and human resources defending ourselves from distortions by ZOA and others aimed to expel progressive Zionists from the Zionist movement and to limit use of the eternal symbols of Zionism, like the name Hatikvah, solely to the Zionist right.
Instead of fair competition for the hearts, minds and votes of Zionists, ZOA acts to defame committed supporters of Israel, and progressive Israelis who are working to defend their country’s future. Ultimately, the ZOA’s hostile and distorted rhetoric and attacks on progressive Zionists, threaten the unity of the Jewish community and its collective effort to support for the State of Israel. During dangerous and challenging times like today, this is a cost that the Jewish community and Israel simply cannot afford.”