I read an article in a synagogue newsletter written by the rabbi titled “Israel: Off Our Radar Screens?” The article was about American Jews born after 1955 and their relationship to the state of Israel. The results are rather stunning for me as an ardent Zionist. The rabbi found that young Jews don’t feel a closeness to the state of Israel because they haven’t encountered anti-Semitism or oppression, unlike a generation or two ago. In addition, young Jews with a “social justice” mindset tend to view the militaristic aspects of Israel as a source of oppression.
Young Jews tend to view the Holocaust as “ancient history.” This statement and viewpoint are stunning to me because Judaism is a continual observance of practices that are centuries old. It’s part of the Jewish psyche to think old but new. Or is it?
Has the success American Jews and, to some extent, worldwide Jewry experienced caused us to become a bit stagnant or forgetful of our history? Could it be that assimilation has become a bit of a pitfall for us? This is a discussion I’m sure happens around Jewish kitchens and temples everywhere, but who’s having the discussion? Older Jews are hopefully engaging in this discussion with younger Jews and I pray younger Jews will listen rather than roll their eyes and ignore the elders’ wisdom.
I wonder if the existence of the state of Israel has strengthened worldwide Jewry to the extent that we take Israel for granted? As Rabbi Block states in the article regarding the existence of Israel: “The need for Israel as a refuge for persecuted Jews is not directly persuasive to today’s American Jew.”
I tend to differ on this viewpoint because of my experiences with Jewish people in my home synagogue. Back home, many are very active in the discussion of Israel’s existence and how we must be involved in every aspect of the political and social discussion because the folks in Israel are our brothers and sisters. And somehow the Holocaust hasn’t dimmed in the minds of my friends in Iowa. The mantra “never again” is alive and well. But so is the discussion about how to help in the discussion of peace in the Middle East.
Are young Jews active in the discussion of the state of Israel and do they care? I can’t speak for every single Jewish soul born after 1955, but will say this Jew cares about Israel and hasn’t forgotten history.
“A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” —Paul Valery