The world Jewish community has recently been shaken to its core by the tsunami of anti-Semitism that has broken out in the wake of Israel’s third Gaza war. We have been horror-stricken as the world media has condemned the Middle East’s only democracy for the simple act of defending itself against terror rockets and tunnels.My thoughts exactly. Proselytization for non-Jews could benefit Jewish society very well, and help give hope to those who need a form of religion through which to look up to God. In France, there's people who've grown distant from Christianity who could probably use Judaism instead if cards are played right, and the right kind of people introduce it to them. The same in some south American and Asian countries. Maybe Scotland could be a good place. And maybe this is why the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is becoming outmoded, because what are they doing to draw more converts? All the Haredis running it now have done is make things harder, and that's why it has to change and they can't be allowed to monopolize Judaism and dictate how people must run their lives. The time has come to deal with this, and it has to be now.
We have watched with mouths agape at the tens of thousands of people marching in the streets of London and Berlin chanting “Hitler should have finished off the Jews” and “Ham-As rhymes with poison gas.” We have been gob-smacked with scenes of pogroms against Jews hiding in synagogues in Paris. Most of all, we have wondered how could a civilized world with liberal humanistic values choose the women-honor-killing, gay-murdering, free-speech-suppressing Hamas terrorist death cult over democratic Israel.
Why isn’t this being effectively combated? Simply stated, there aren’t enough Jews in the world.
The greatest challenge facing the world Jewish community is its puny size. The number of Jews in the world has fallen below a critical mass and our scarcity raises the specter of unpleasant consequences.
Foremost among them is our inability to defend the State of Israel properly.
The point is easily demonstrated. In the United State where nearly 6 million Jews represent about 2 percent of the population, our large size and well-organized numbers enable us to create an effective political lobby that has yielded concrete positive results in the form of American support for Israel. Compare that to the 230,000 Jews of Britain who live in a population of 64 million, a minuscule percentage of the population. Such a paltry number has condemned the supporters of Israel to being virtually overwhelmed by the growing Muslim community of Britain, with support for Israel falling precipitously as a result.
Even in France, where there are 500,000 Jews, they are outnumbered by a Muslim population of 5 to 6 million representing about 10% of the population.
But security issues aside, we Jews, whose biblical mandate is to be a light unto the nations, are meant to leave a mark on the world. Real influence, to be sure, depends more on quality than quantity, but even as the smallest of nations, Jews have arguably been the most influential over the long term.
Yet numbers still matter greatly. Just look at the United Nations as an example of how Israel is treated with contempt mostly because we are too small to influence a world body.
Kicking up Jewish numbers isn’t going to be easy, and vastly increasing the Jewish birthrate, as well as reversing assimilation, is vital. With intermarriage in the United States at 50%, millions of offspring in the world who have a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother are not considered halachically Jewish. But even with one Jewish parent, the connection is strong.
Should we not be approaching these people and inspiring them to connect with their Jewish roots? The same applies to hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of Europeans who stem from Jewish ancestry, like the growing community in Spain and Portugal of former Marranos. These people feel themselves to be partially ‘Jewish.’ but we allow them to founder and never connect them with the Jewish people, even though they have Jewish antecedents.
But it is high time we considered actively proselytizing non-Jews to Judaism. The number of people without any religion at all is a group to which we ought to offer Judaism as a monotheistic alternative and actively promote the Torah as the word of God.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
SHMULEY BOTEACH IS RIGHT: WE NEED MORE CONVERTS
Boteach recently said Israel and Jewish society could benefit from seeking more converts to Judaism:
Posted by Avi Green at 5:18 PM