Recent concern expressed over the fate of the 5.2 million strong American Jewish Community, the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, may not be as much as a concern as the fate of Israel’s 6.5 million Jewish community due to an increasing Muslim birth rate and an ominous threat by Israel’s apparent No. 1 enemy: Iran. At last weeks United Jewish Community’s “G.A.” conference held in Los Angeles, at which Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert (pictured) made a guest appearance; there appears to be a mixed message concerning who really needs who. True, the American Jewish aging community, with an average of 42, and a shrinking birth rate, is a big concern to Jewish leaders there. An increasing security threat to the State of Israel, however, by the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinians in Gaza and the still disputed West Bank, and particularly by Iran’s accelerating nuclear program; the big question now is whether it is a good idea to have such a large Jewish concentration in such a small country as Israel.
American Jews do have a lot to be concerned about as their numbers have been shrinking over the years due to assimilation and lower birth rates. But the problem of an aging population and small families is also a big concern in many Western countries as in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea as well. concerning the American Jewish Community, with Jewish couples marrying at a much later age and having no more than one or two children, it’s very easy to understand why this is happening. From an economic standpoint, American Jewish women, secular ones that is, are simply more interested in their careers than raising families. When they do marry, Jewish couples face the reality what they have to do in order to raise and educate kids in an increasingly more expensive upper-middle class American society. For example, sending two children to a private Jewish day school can cost parents an average of $1,200 to 1,500 per month, per child, not counting additional fees and payments required by these private institutions who generally receive little or no governmental assistance. Being a full-fledged member of a Jewish community, including joining a Synagogue or Temple also cost big bucks these days, including a member’s contribution towards the Rabbi’s annual salary ‘package’ which can be in excess of $200,000 or more.
A shrinking American Jewish community means bad news in respect to continuing contributions to Israel, including the UIA, Israel Bonds, and many other fundraising campaigns, with hard-pressed American Jewish families simply not having the money to donate to Israeli causes. Though more Americans are considering Aliyah to Israel, especially due to receiving assistance from programs like Nefesh b’Nefesh, many such families and individuals find it very hard to live in the Jewish State due to not being able to find suitable employment and affordable housing.
The increasing threat from Iran is also something that more and Jews are having to deal with, both in Israel and abroad. While American Jews, though lobbies such as AIPAC, are trying to bring more attention to the Iranian threat, Israeli Jews will eventually have to face this threat head-on. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not pulling any punches concerning his intentions regarding Israel. These intentions, which could become reality sooner than many think, might require a strong American Jewish Community to be ready to offer assistance, and even shelter, to it’s Israeli Jewish brethren, should this be required.
So, who needs who? It’s simply a question of how one looks at it.
November 20, 2006 at 10:19 am
Olmert we don’t need.
November 20, 2006 at 10:28 pm
Assimilation or unification? Many, many American Jews have extended a hand of friendship and acceptance to the extended, accepting hand of the American Christian communities. These bonds of friendship are NOT being solidified by insistance on “conversion” from either side. We will pray, one for the other, and leave the rest to the Holy One of Israel.
The point I am trying to make is that “Israeli Jewish brethren” have many more brothers than they realize and have many more to look to for support of various kinds. Praise be to the Holy One of Israel!