'Let's not talk about intermarriage as an enemy'

The UJC is shocked that Israelis show so little interest in it, not realizing that the reason lies in its cutting off the connecting link of authentic Jewish culture.

mixed wedding 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
mixed wedding 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Last month, the United Jewish Communities, an umbrella organization of America's 150 Jewish federations, held its annual General Assembly conference in Jerusalem. As immigrant comedian Benji Lovitt described it, it was the ultimate "power shmoozing" session of American Jewry. Hundreds of professional Jews from around America, dressed like an army of diplomats, ranked by the figures of their financial donations to the federation, mingled between speeches by Ehud Olmert, Binyamin Netanyahu, American oleh turned Israeli basketball legend Tal Brody and others. Privileged donors of $100,000 or more were honored at a gala dinner with Olmert himself on opening night. Despite all the hoopla, The Jerusalem Post reported that GA organizers were disappointed at the low level of press coverage they received in Hebrew-language media. Professional Jews of America seem to be frustrated with Israelis' lack of interest in the culture of the American Jewish community. They also complain that when Israeli journalists visit the US, they ignore the Jewish community and are only interested in US politics. I attended the GA as a representative of the Jewish communities in Samaria, promoting our program of partnership between communities here and in the Diaspora. Through our "sister community" program we wish to reach out to our distant brothers and sisters by building a real tie between Jews in Samaria and Jews around the world. The truth is that I did find myself a stranger in a strange crowd. I would say that no more then five percent of the participants wore kippot and tzitzit (and some of those were women). HOW "JEWISH" was the tone of the day? UJC leader Edgar Bronfman said in his opening speech at the NexGen (next generation) meeting: "Let's not talk about intermarriage as an enemy, but as a reality." This sheds light on the entire philosophy of the UJC. It believes in the golden rule: "He who has the gold make the rules." The UJC's leadership is made up of people like Bronfman, whose children have intermarried and whose grandchildren are no longer Jewish in terms of traditional Judaism. They have set out to form a new culture called the "United Jewish Communities," but, which should really be called "Bronfmanism." They are shocked that Israelis show so little interest in their works, but don't stop to think that the reason lies in the fact that they have cut themselves off from the connecting link: authentic Jewish culture. The center of true Jewish culture is expressed by the implementation of the prophecies of the Bible: the ingathering of the Jewish people and the establishment of the State of Israel in our historical homeland. The abundance of Jewish wealth in America is not a culture within itself that can replace our heritage and values. That wealth should be used to complement those achievements in Israel and not to compete with them. Apparently, their newly founded "Jewish" ethics and concepts of tikun olam are strange even to mainstream secular Israelis, who are so much more naturally "Jewish" then their American counterparts. Tikun olam through feeding the hungry in Africa and Asia with Jewish money, so as to "fix the world's misconception" that Jewish money is not to its advantage, cannot replace the true Jewish concept of tikun olam b'malhut shaddai - making the world complete by acknowledging the kingship of God through fulfilling mitzvot. Expensive gala dinners honoring wealthy donors cannot replace a traditional Shabbat dinner honoring God who created the world in seven days. UJC leaders find it hard to understand that the framework of our historical heritage - Torah, not money - is what brings us together and causes us to be a people. American Jews are in a great danger of their own making. Their only hope is acknowledging that the key to Jewish leadership is not measured in dollars, but rather in commitment to authentic Jewish values. The writer heads the Samaria International Liaison Office. He deals with foreign press, tours, partnerships and philanthropy for the development of the Jewish communities in Samaria.