The fact that many Israelis have left the Jewish state to find new homes and opportunities in the United States has long been a source of tension for Jerusalem. In the past, some Israeli leaders, such as the late Yitzhak Rabin, castigated emigrants as being little better than traitors. Attempts to shame them into returning failed as have more recent efforts aimed at enticing the yordim (as they are known in Hebrew) with more positive messages. But as cable’s The Jewish Channel reports in this video, the country’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, which is responsible for promoting aliyah or immigration to the country, has taken a new tack in an effort to get some of what is estimated to be as many as 600,000 former Israelis living in the United States to come home.
The Ministry has created a series of commercials that are airing on cable channels likely to be watched by the Israelis that warn them they are losing their identity by staying in the United States. This is standard fare from a Zionist point of view, but one of the ads goes a bit further than the others and seems to be warning about the perils of Israelis marrying American Jews. If so, a government agency whose premise is supposed to be one that reinforces Jewish identity may be sending a message that contradicts that theme.
But the third [ad] shows the plight of a young ex-Israeli with a boyfriend whom we may well assume to be Jewish (as Ben Smith of Politico does in a blog post) because we are not told otherwise. In the ad, the woman is commemorating Yom Hazikaron — Israel’s memorial day — but her partner doesn’t understand its significance and, the narrator reminds the audience, he never will.
It’s one thing for Israel to try and convince expats to come home lest they assimilate into a foreign culture. It’s quite another to send a message that hooking up with an American Jew will cause them to lose their secular Israeli identity. It’s true that many expats view themselves more as Israelis rather than Jews and fear losing their connection with the Hebrew language and the secular culture of the state more than ties with their nominal religion. But a message that seems to reinforce the notion that Israelis and American Jews have nothing in common runs contrary to the whole concept of Zionism, let alone traditional Judaism, and not to mention the political needs of a country that relies heavily on American Jewish support.
But in North America, mostly it isn't. It's all well and good for people whose families were Christian but are not religious or even atheist now to say that Christmas is totally secular, how dare people find anything religious in Christmas, but they're using a significant amount of privilege when they assert, incorrectly, that Christmas is secular and religion-neutral.
Ads use emotion and guilt to lure those who’ve lingered in the diaspora to return to their Jewish roots
Q: If a Jewish man marries a non-Jewish woman and they have a child, would the Reform movement consider their child to be Jewish?
A: "The Reform position on this question, referred to as Patrilineal Descent, is often misunderstood. What we say is that child born of one Jewish parent, whether it is the mother or the father, is under the PRESUMPTION of being Jewish, but that his/her Jewishness must be activated by "appropriate and timely" Jewish acts. It is not enough to simply be born to a Jewish parent. For a boy, one such act would certainly be brit milah. Without that, one might question this child's Jewishness. If, on the other hand, the family celebrated Jewish holidays, educated the boy, had him become a Bar Mitzvah, etc., in other words, if the child is being raised exclusively as a Jew and was not baptized and is not being given a formal or informal Christian education, then we would consider him Jewish - just as an orthodox Jew would consider a boy born of a Jewish mother to be Jewish even if he had not been circumcised.
Another way to put it is like this: we consider a person who acts and identifies as a Jew to be a Jew, a definition we find happier than a sort of blood-line/racial definition (especially after the Holocaust).
By the way, when the Reform movement debated this years ago, scholarly papers pointed out that in the Bible the line ALWAYS followed the father, including the cases of all those heroes, like Joseph and Moses, who married into non-Israelite priestly families."
« Older CubeStormer II solves the Rubik's Cube puzzle fast... | Daniel Ellsberg on the Limits ... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt