Wedding bands [Illustrative].
(photo credit: JEFF BELMONTE FROM CUIABÁ BRAZIL/FLICKR VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz said during the government meeting on Tuesday that the massive scale of assimilation among world Jews, especially in the US, is akin to “a second Holocaust.”
Peretz claimed that “we lost six million Jews in that way since the Holocaust.”
He was quickly challenged by Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz who argued that not only is “assimilation not a critical problem” but that “we must stop looking down on Jews who live in America.” He added that not all Jews define their Jewishness via faith and many view their Jewish identity as a cultural and historical one.
The figure of six million Jews allegedly "lost" due to assimilation might be a misquotation of a real quote by the late Golda Meir who said that she thinks that anyone who assimilates had made a choice to “join the six millions” who perished in the Holocaust.
In 2013, the Pew Research Center released data suggesting that if before 1970 only 17% of US Jews married a non-Jewish person, in 2005 the figure was 58%.
The issue of how may Jewish people maintain their identity while living in an open democratic society like the US or other Western societies, had not been resolved with religious Jews viewing intermarriage as a path of almost no-return and secular Jews pointing to households in which Jewishness is celebrated along other values.
The Jewish state does not allow intermarriage as all religious communities in Israel must marry inside their own courts, a legal practice kept from the Turkish Ottoman empire time.
Israel will recognize civic marriage between Jews and non-Jews, or Muslim and Christian Israelis, if performed in other countries with which the Jewish state has diplomatic relations.
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