- Shmuel Sackett, Chairman of Zehut International
The Disappearing Jews
We are all familiar with the horrific number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. The number - 6,000,000 – has become part of us and we will never forget it. The problem, however, is that while WWII has ended, the destruction of the Jewish world has not… and this time, it’s not the Nazis who are killing us, but fellow Jews! Yes, we are killing ourselves.
It’s called “assimilation” and we can no longer turn a blind eye to what is happening.
Let me share a few facts from an article I saw recently on Aish.com. In American today, 71% of non-Orthodox marriages are intermarriages. 71%!!! According to Aish.com, 83% of the children from these marriages will intermarry as well. You need to stop and think about that for a moment. Simply put, it means that our non-religious brothers and sisters are in a process of self-destruction. They are disappearing. By the way, the US intermarriage rate in 1950 was 6%. By 1974 it had risen to 25%. And today? Simply out of control.
The numbers get even worse when you read about fertility rates. The general US population has a fertility rate of 2.1 but the Jews are different: Orthodox Jews are 4.1, Conservative Jews are 1.8, Reform Jews are 1.7 and Jews of no religion are 1.5. You realize that when 2 parents have less than 2 kids, they are vanishing…
Yigal Lahav, the Mayor of Karnei Shomron recently returned from a trip to the USA and upon his return, called an emergency meeting to beg for help. My brother in law, Sam Hirschman, attended this meeting and gave me a full report. He said Mayor Lahav spoke about the need to turn things around. For many years, American Jews have been helping Israel - with funds and other assistance - but now it is Israel who needs to help America. He told the meeting that he hadn’t slept since seeing the statistics of what is happening to Jews in America. Allow me to summarize his entire presentation with one line: There are 5.5 million Jews in America today and experts believe that in 20 years, that number will be 2.5 million – a loss of 3,000,000 Jews!!!
Please do me a favor. Don’t say, “Well, it’s not happening in my community”. That’s pure rubbish. Jews don’t talk that way. If it’s happening to one Jew it’s happening to all Jews. Trust me that I have read the reports, including the one from UJA-Federation which states that – in New York (the 5 boroughs) – 60% of Jewish children live in Orthodox homes. That is indeed wonderful news but what about the Jewish kids outside NY? We cannot turn a blind eye.
The first thing we need to do is figure out a way to cure this epidemic. Baruch Hashem, the article on Aish.com provided some good information as well. The number one way to reduce intermarriage is by making sure Jewish children go to a Yeshiva day school, starting as early as kindergarten. After that, the next best things are Jewish summer camps and being involved in a Jewish outreach program on college campuses. The final statistic I saw literally blew my mind since I never thought of “Birthright” as an intermarriage-preventer but I was wrong. 51% of people who go on a Birthright trip to Israel are more likely to marry a Jew when compared to people who did not go on Birthright.
So, to help slow down this process, here is what you need to do: Get connected to fellow Jews and do whatever you can to make sure they send their kids to Yeshiva. If they are older, and already in college, take an aggressive role in getting them involved in the various forms of Jewish outreach on campuses across America, or connect them to Birthright. When summer rolls around, help get these kids into a Jewish summer camp. Yes, you may have to help out financially – with the Yeshiva or camp bills – but you are literally saving lives. You need not shoulder the burden yourself. Call the Yeshiva and/or camp. Tell them the situation and press for a discount. Then talk to friends. This is not an easy task but why should saving a Jewish life be easy?? I promise you that if you dedicate yourself to this project, Hashem will bless you with what you need. Does it solve the intermarriage crisis in America? No, but it does slow it down a bit.
Want to solve it? Want to totally end the problem of intermarriage in America? Take the next step and help bring all the Jews home to Israel. Am I being irrational? Probably, after all, 4 out of 5 Jews didn’t leave Egypt, so you think they are going to leave Miami Beach? Yet, I refuse to think that way. In my belief system, Moshiach is not a guy we just wait around for. I agree that there are many Jews who believe this and are happy living their Jewish life in some kind of waiting room… but I am not one of those. I have always believed that it is our responsibility to bring Moshiach, not just pick him up at the airport when he arrives.
Hashem wants us to be aggressive in this task and show Him initiative. We need to put in effort in learning Torah, doing acts of chesed and building the Land that He gave us. We need to show sacrifice and selfless dedication in fighting our enemies and we need to do whatever it takes to bring Jews home from the four corners of the globe.
Dearest friends, Jewish education, summer camps and Birthright trips are very important for kids in America and, while there, we must do whatever we can to make that possible but the real solution is moving to Israel. Only in Israel – with the Jewish nation living together as one united people – can we win both the physical and spiritual battles. It’s not just about Zionism anymore. It’s an emergency call to save lives because if not, the number 6,000,000 will pale in comparison to what we did to ourselves.
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