The annual conference

'...American Jews are out of touch with the community'

Overheard at the Leadership Conference of the North American Association of Affiliated Jews We have convened this Conference, the 300,000th of its kind, to determine why so few American Jews are actively involved in the Jewish community. - Actively involved, to be sure, with us. - Funny how it's all men here again. - It's such a bizarre coincidence, isn't it? - Before we begin, has everybody had a chance to review our latest anti-intermarriage publicity effort? - I think it's too subtle. The slogan "Don't Finish What The Nazis Started" is vague. - I agree. How about a simple "Intermarriage is Suicide"? That should welcome more Jews into the community. - We should add something emphatic about how the children of intermarriage are not Jews. - How about "Intermarriage is Suicide and Children of Intermarriage Are Akin to Zombies"? - That could work. - It's punchy, it strikes a nerve, it says what's important. - It could bring thousands of Jews back into the fold! - Excellent! Now back to the matter at hand. Have you seen the statistics on how so few American Jews feel connected to Israel these days? - I sincerely, for the life of me, cannot fathom why this should be. - It's because of assimilation. They can't relate to Israel because they've become rich and isolated in America. - It's worse than that. They don't like Jewish strength. They're fed on Diaspora weakness and self-hatred! - Let's not be so critical. After all, they hear anti-Semitic news reports all the time. - Did anybody see the anti-Semitic tirade on the op-ed page of the New York Times? - I couldn't sleep for days! - What happened? - Thomas Friedman wrote a column that referred to the Palestinian Arabs as "people." - He did not! - I have it right here. Look, I circled it. - This is an outrage! - We should boycott the New York Times! - Is he married to a Jew? - Who? - Thomas Friedman. - I think so. - Well he's a self-hating Jew anyway. - It's so difficult keeping track of the self-haters. - We should make a list. - Esteemed colleagues, let us return to the topic at hand. What can we do to restore the vitality of Israel to the lives of American Jews? - We should urge Congress to refuse to fund the Palestinians, even for civic initiatives. Don't give them a dime. - A dime in a Palestinian's hand is a dime for terror! - Don't say 'Palestinian.' Remember, it's 'Palestinian Arab.' The key is to emphasize 'Arab.' - I'm glad we're making progress here. And I feel gratified that the people gathered here are eminently qualified to secure the Jewish future. So what are the other reasons Jews are not involved in the community? - I read an article by a Jewish professor... - Is he married to a Jew? - It's a she. - Is she married to a Jew? - I don't know. - So how do we know if she's self-hating or not? - We can't trust her if she's not one of us. - Regardless, in the article she wrote that even in the midst of the War on Terror, American Jews are overwhelmingly Democratic. - Self-haters! - Terrorist coddlers! - How can a professor say this? - The university is filled with lies and propaganda. - But maybe she has a point. After all, ignorant and assimilated Jews oppose Bush, but Jews who understand Judaism are for him. It's a question of moral values. - We here have more in common with observant Christians than with most American Jews. - But some people say - and I'm just playing devil's advocate here - that most Jews are Democrats precisely because of their Jewish ethical commitments. - But how is it ethical to despise yourself? - They're ignoramuses, that's the problem. They don't have a Jewish education. This is the tragedy. - They talk about "repairing the world." Since when is repairing the world a Jewish concept? - I don't care what this self-hating professor says. I think I speak for all of American Jewry when I say George W. Bush is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln. - He is a modern day Moses. - So what do we do if our views are so much different from the views of American Jews? - This is only a symptom of the larger problem - that American Jews are out of touch with the community. - But we are the community. We should never forget that. Regardless of the fact that religiously, culturally and economically, we represent .00003 percent of American Jewry. - And that we were never elected to our posts. - Ha ha, that's funny... Being elected to something. - Focus, People! How can we get American Jews back to us? - Has anybody heard the latest on Mel Gibson? - What now? - I don't know, I just figured he did something. It's been three weeks. - 'The Passion' is out on DVD. We can use that as a hook. - Maybe in the audio commentary he insults Jews. Somebody listen to the commentary! - Is there any contradiction in supporting George Bush, who is pushing a fundamentalist Christian agenda on abortion, stem cells, prayer in schools, et cetera, and fighting Mel Gibson for his similar evangelical impulse? - I see no contradiction. Bush likes Jews, Gibson hates Jews. - Back to Mel. - We can use this in fundraising letters: "Mel Gibson Wants To Kill Your Children." - If they aren't intermarried, because then they're not Jews anyway. - Zombies. - Speaking of fundraising, there's a small matter involving one of our philanthropists. - What happened? - Turns out he's under investigation for plundering his employees' IRA accounts. - And? - Well, there's been some whispering that we shouldn't accept money if the source is tainted. - Nonsense. What does this have to do with Judaism? - Excellent. Besides, he's offered to fund next year's conference. - We should honor him in a tribute dinner. - With balloons. - We've accomplished a lot today. - If we stick to our guns, I'm convinced American Jews will come streaming back to the community. - If this doesn't work, what will? - Is it time for lunch? The writer is author of The Great Jewish Cities of Central and Eastern Europe.