"The life of Jews outside of Israel has never been so free, safe and prosperous despite the disruption and disagreement." Such an unexpected passage opens the article by David Landau, a former editor of Haaretz, published in The Economist, the influential British weekly, and reprinted in Haaretz.
The article mainly affects the Jewish community in the U.S. and tells the story of how American Jews maintain good relations with other Americans on the one hand, and Israel on the other. One can agree with the author of the article: the Jewish community in the U.S. really feels their absolute involvement in the country they live in.
The article also mentions (unfortunately, it does it quite superficially) such problems of American Jews as non-confessional marriages (they are called "mixed marriages" in the article), which make up about half of married couples where one spouse is Jewish. Only a small proportion of non-Jewish spouses observe Jewish traditions in such families.
Another problem which is not less important is the aging of those Jews who constitute the current generation of Jewish community leaders in the U.S. They led American Jews to phenomenal success in terms of social status of the community. The open question is who will be the new leaders of American Jews? What will be their attitude to Jewish traditions and the State of Israel? Jews treatment (especially those who support Israel) is getting worse day by day in the U.S. college campuses, wherethe new leadership of the community is being formed today.
It becomes socially unacceptable to identify yourself with Israel and the Jewish people, to show your connection with them. This leads to the fact that the number of American Jews who demonstrate their solidarity with other people of the Jewish state is decreasing at the moment.
The USA are not alone here. Landau writes that the last forty years (from 1970 to 2010) increased the number of Jews around the world (including Israel) for 900,000 people. Just 900,000 for 40 years? If it is so, it turns out that the number of Jews increased by about 22,000 people a year: can such a tiny number be called "prosperity"?
There were in about 2.6 million Jews in Israel in 1970. Today this number comes closer to 6 million. The growth of the Jewish population in Israel was 3.5 million people for the same 40 years. If we compare the total number of the Jewish population in the world, it means that the past forty years decreased the Jewish diaspora for 2.5 million people.
The vast majority of Jewish people lives outside of Israel in Western countries today. The birth rate in the Western world is extremely low. The number of "mixed marriages" is 80% in the former Soviet Union countries, 60-70% in Eastern Europe, and 40-50% in other countries (except Mexico).
Some changes of the political situation in some countries force the Jews to leave their communities: Jews are leaving Chile under the pressure of the Palestinian community, Jews are moving from Venezuela to the United States (Miami) and Spain… South Africa has been left by a half of the Jewish community for England mostly. The reason is the rise of crime and violence in society. Despite this fact, the number of Jews in England has been reduced to 100 000 since 1970.
Jews leave Eastern Europe in search of better economics and stability. And only in Germany, Canada, and Australia's Jewish population has grown over the past 40 years. Moving from one place to another does not change the total number of Jews in the world, but it's a sign of difficulties and problems that lead to emigration.
Now let's move on to the statement that "Jewish life has never been so free, safe, and prosperous". The economic crisis of 2008 caused damage to the economic security of the Jewish communities in the West, and reduced the size of the Jewish charity, without which there can be no community life and no Jewish organizations functionality.
We have not yet dealt with the theme of anti-Semitism, which is now marching in lockstep with the anti-Israel speeches. It is not yet summed up in 2012, but the feelings are heavy. This is especially true in Europe, both Eastern and Western. In some countries Jews leave the neighborhoods where they lived for many years, afraid to go out in kippot, and try to hide Jewish identity.
About the author: Alex Strike works as a freelance writer at the moment, has many interests in different fields, including social networks, concept gadgets and cars. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.
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