I’ve spent a lot of time in recent months thinking about my relationship to Israel. Those of you who followed my blog posts while I was in Israel know that my attitude is complicated–it’s not that Israel is not a value in my life, it’s just not the only value, and I often feel guilty for feeling the way I feel, like I’m somehow failing the Jewish people by not making aliyah and not sending 1/10th of my already meager income to support the Jewish state.
But now ROI120-nik Matt Lebovic indicates in a new article in the JPost that–even aside from fundraising–there is a role for Diaspora Jews who aren’t moving to Israel. The article was prompted by a statement by Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski, who told reporters at the GA that â€œthe penny will drop for North American Jews and they will realize they have no future.â€ These comments, Lebovic notes, were “more charitable” than those made by author A.B. Yehoshua earlier this year: â€œIf you do not live in Israel your Jewish identity has no meaning at all.â€
Anyone in touch with reality knows most North American Jews will never settle in Israel. Instead of employing fear tactics to promote Aliyah, Israeli leaders should partner with all Jews committed to Israel, regardless of where they pay taxes.
North American Jews have made impressive contributions to Zionism, even beyond AIPAC and their checkbooks. The community brings several key â€œcardsâ€ to the table of Jewish state-building – cards somewhat lacking from the current Israeli deck.
He cites sharing Jewish heritage, Israel 21C, partnering between Israeli and American cities to address social issues, and of course, birthright, as examples of structures created by the American Jewish community that actually work.
Look, I still feel guilty. I’m a single American Jewish woman in my thirties who had a yeshiva education, who has very little money and doesn’t live in Israel, and therefore I have much to feel guilty about. (I even wrote about it for the new issue of PresenTense, and will add the link as soon as it’s online.) But it’s good to know that there are other people who think that aliyah, while important, isn’t the only option a committed American Jew or Jewish American has. And having participated in a birthright trip, attended a GA, and having been involved in the organized Jewish community for more years than I care to count, I do think he’s right.
Still, I do enjoy a good limonana. And how great a PR move would it be if we could get all remaining Diaspora Jewish posters to move to Israel? Hmm.