The Face of American Jewry is Changing

Within 15-20 years is Israel expected to become economically attractive as a magnet for Western immigration. At the same time is the face of American Jewry rapidly changing. Most American Jews intermarry and most of those who do raise their children as Jews irrespective of whether it is the father or the mother who is Jewish. Thus American Reform Judaism has succeeded in persuading intermarried Jews to raise their children Jewish. This is massive success. But the question lingers as to whether Israel is ready to accept millions of American patrilineal Jews as immigrants once Israel has become so attractive to live in that Western Jews immigrate to Israel for economic reasons? The Haredi position is clear, they expect patrilineal Jews to assimilate and disappear in America and certainly do not want them to immigrate to Israel. The conversion question divides Religious Zionism and the challenge is to do conversions on a large scale that does not threaten Diaspora Orthodox communities with intermarriage. The fear appears to be that Orthodox Jews outside Israel will date non-Jews abroad, then make fictitious Aliyah in order to take advantage of liberalized conversion standards in Israel. There needs to be safeguards in place in order to prevent the system from being abused this way and thus outright liberalization is not the way. It has to be clear that the conversion system is only for citizens who reside permanently in Israel.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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