Israel and ‘The Tribe’

Posted Friday, Oct 26th, 2007
CJN (Cleveland)
Israel and ‘The Tribe’

Take a poll of Clevelanders ages 35 and younger on the question “Do you feel heartbroken that the Cleveland Indians failed to reach the World Series?”

Presumably, over 50% would respond “Yes!”

Compare that (loosely) with the recent study sponsored by the Bronfman Foundation titled “Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel.” It reveals alarming detachment and alienation among younger American Jews toward Israel and its very existence.

The study has shocked the American Jewish community. Community workers, clergy and laymen wonder where we’ve gone wrong and anxiously seek potential remedies.

I talked with my fellow Chabad rabbis on college campuses around the United States, on the front lines combating Jewish apathy and indifference. I found they weren’t surprised. They encounter this alienation daily.

For any Jewish adult whose heart throbs for the Jewish people and the land of Israel to convey that level of intensity to the next generation is an awesome challenge

The key word in education today is “discuss!” Whether it’s alcohol or drugs, partying or teen sex, everything is now on the table, discussed openly and frankly. No longer can we take for granted that what we know as right or wrong, safe or harmful, is the path our children will automatically follow.

If that’s true about everything else, why should our Jewish values take a back seat? All Jewish parents should ask themselves: Do we ever discuss with our children Israel’s role in Jewish life and its importance? Better still, do we have a heart-to-heart bedtime discussion with our youngsters about our people’s love for the land of Israel?

It’s time to realize the responsibility each of us has to transmit to our families and others the knowledge and awareness of every Jew’s intimate connection to the land of Israel. If we can no longer take for granted that our children will follow us in anything else in life, we certainly can’t take for granted that they will follow the Jewish values we hold so dear.

For that, parents must themselves be knowledgeable and educated.

The Jewish Learning Institute (JLI) is launching a six-week course series entitled “The Land and the Spirit n why we all care about Israel” It will explore the Jewish people’s bond with the land of Israel. For information and to register, log on to

Israel has existed as a state only since 1948, but our connection with the land is almost 4,000 years old. Considering that the Cleveland Indians last won the World Series in 1948, we wonder whether they’ll succeed in keeping the excitement going ... as we have for 4,000 years.

Rabbi Yossi Marozov is director of Friendship Circle and will be leading the upcoming JLI course series.

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