Zionism, what once for me was a clear cut discussion, becomes a prevailing debacle and inner dialogue. Concluding an important research report about the assimilation of American Jews and paradigm shifts, that affect the decline of the Jewish population, it is apparent that the state of Israel is providing a scapegoat for assimilation. American Jews see this new group of Bal Tuva Jews moving to Israel. This allows the American psyche to assimilate into modern pop-culture and evade the discussion of Jewish assimilation within the Diaspora altogether.
Pre-Holocaust, Jews separated themselves and seemed to maintain numbers in population. It is within the 1930’s-1970’s where Jews found assimilation to be the response to persecution. A decade later [1980s], Hitler’s “solution to the Jewish problem” still impacted population numbers. In the 21st century numbers are still on the decline and at an ever rapid pace.
The major concern is if Jews in the Diaspora rely only on Jews within the country of Israel, the near future of the Jewish faith will become a closing chapter. Yes, intermarriage and the Holocaust have a large part in this ideological decline, but I urge the public to open their eyes as to what the idea of Zionism does psychologically for the Jewish community. We cannot focus solely on “the right of return”. We as a community must discuss how we cannot depend on Jews overseas to create the identity of the Jew within the Diaspora nor can we use this “right” as a crutch for not being active in Jewish communities.
Likewise, the average Israeli feels less of a need to do “Jewish” because going to the market is a Jewish event in it of itself. The confusion between faith and nationalism does not stem from Zionism, but does allow itself to blur the lines all that much more. Nationalism is important on many levels, the Torah even mentions that, but it also is important to practice and value traditions and rituals as our ancestors have done for centuries.
It is imperative that the public understand that Zionism is not potent, but potentially dangerous. The paradigm needs to shift. No longer can we depend on another Jew to be Jewish. The numbers in the population are too small. It is absolutely fine to subscribe to Zionism, but when educating people or when in a discussion about the topic, it is important to address that as Jews of the Diaspora, we play an integral role in the success of our future. Without buy-in for this paradigm shift, cultural and religious traditions of the Jewish faith will be masked in Israeli nationalism, risking a much larger decline in Jewish population.
Be true to the streets-