Continuity: Wrong and Right Answers

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5 Responses

  1. Avi says:

    I absolutely agree with Rabbi Shafran that Jewish continuity is dependent taditional Jewish beliefs and adherence observance of halacha. However, one can only achieve a “full Jewish life” by fulfilling these precepts in Eretz Yisrael where G-d intended them to be fulfilled. To imply that there is no significant difference between living an Orthodox lifestyle in America and living an Orthodox Lifestyle in Israel is, in my opinion, a misguided approach.

  2. Menachem Lipkin says:

    While Rabbi Shafran glibly dismisses the value of speaking Hebrew, celebrating Chanuka and Pesach the fact is that Jews in Israel are, on average, much more “Jewish” than those in America.

    Currently there are about the same number of Jews in Israel as in America. (Actually, Israel just surpassed America with 5.5mm vs 5.2mm.)

    In America the intermarriage rate is over 50%. According to NJOP, of the 5.2 million Jews in America, 2.2 million of them are completely unaffiliated. They are so far gone that they no longer self-identify as Jews. Another 1.5 million Jews are “moderately” affiliated. Those are the ones who might answer, as Rabbi Shafran mentions, that Judaism is about “repairing the world”. Of the remaining 1.5 million only about 400K are “orthodox”.

    In Israel, intermarriage is virtually non-existent. Chanuka is not just an Israeli version of Christmas, as over 90% of Israeli Jews light a menora and are familiar with the historical significance of the holiday. Likewise, a similar number of Israeli Jews have a Sedar during Pesach, matzoh is eaten everywhere, it’s not just “spring break”. There are well over 1.5 million orthodox Jews in Israel and a majority of the rest fall into a spectrum of observance that doesn’t exist in America.

    So while Rabbi Shafran is correct that “Jewish belief and practice as prescribed by the Jewish religious tradition” is the path to Jewish continuity, A.B Yehoshua is also correct (while not meaning it this way) in that living in Israel, while not guaranteeing Jewish continuity, certainly increases the chances of many fold.

  3. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Not only is affirming and observing Torah and halacha the most authentic expression of Jewish nationhood

    Very true! And recognizing that the Torah demands a national life in Eretz Israel is the other half of that equation. Rabbi Zeira, once he arrived in Eretz Yisrael, fasted for 100 days in order to forget the Torah he learned in Bavel and relearn the Torah fresh in Eretz Yisrael. I wonder how many religious Jews living outside the land truly feel that there is something intrinsically missing in their Torah of Chu”l as Rabbi Zeira recognized.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Today (at least right now) we are still in Galut wherever we are. So even in Eretz Yisrael and even in the frummest communities, there are inevitably some gaps between the way we live and the ideal way we should live.

    But obviously some paths taken have been less successful than others.

  5. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Today (at least right now) we are still in Galut wherever we are.

    I guess Rabbi Zeira didn’t know that.

    (Not all aspects of galut apply everywhere – there is no question that MORE is lacking in chu”l than in EY)

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