Jewish population's up. Quick, hit the panic button….

By | Oct 07, 2008
Welcome to Israel

Welcome to Israel

Ok, time to get your assimilation anxieties sorted out. The numbers of Jews and kinda-sorta Jews and non-Jews married to Jews or who are children or grandchildren of Jews is growing, and that’s good, right? No, says Israel’s Jewish Agency Chairman Ze’ev Haifetz, that’s bad. Well, it’s good that the number of “real” Jews is increasing—by 70,000 worldwide in the last year, according to the Jewish Agency. But how about those kinda-sortas? The ones who can become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return, but who might not pass Halachic muster for purposes of marriage to a “real” Jew under Israeli law. Apparently we are producing too many of that sort here in the U.S. The recent population study by TJA says that there are more than 11 million Americans who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which applies some of the who’s-a-Jew principles of the Numemberg laws in deciding who gets ushered through the new immigrants hall at Ben-Gurion airport. This number is more than twice the 5.3 million Americans who define themselves as Jewish, and is proof, says Bielski, that assimilation is growing. The study data, he proclaims, shows that there is “a tangible danger of assimilation hanging over the Jewish people.”

Really? I don’t follow the math. If more Jews are good, then why are more quasi-Jews dangerous? I see it as a glass half-full situation. But the professional Jewish Chicken Littles, who have been wringing their hands about intermarriage and assimilation since the Book of Ruth hit the shelves, apparently do not. Imagine if all those 11 million suddenly logged onto looking to cash in their Law of Return chits? Caroline Kennedy, John Kerry, even Ozzy Osborne‘s kids Kelly and Jack. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all mishpocheh, God love ’em – as Joe Biden’s mom would say.

Photo courtesy of kkkondon.

—Larry Kessner

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