February 23, 2020

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What should Jews prioritize?


IfNotNow wrote a tweet, trying to use a story in the Forward to make an anti-Israel point.

Now, how many members of IfNotNow bother to learn Yiddish? How many really care about Yiddish culture? The article about YIVO laying off its librarians was just used as an excuse to say that, look, Jews are giving more to an awful Israel than to a vital effort to preserve Yiddish culture.

If you care about Judaism, where should your charity dollars go? What should be your priority?

This Yiddish topic indicates how anti-Zionists think.

The Yiddish that YIVO preserves, and that organizations like the Workman’s Circle celebrate and study, is essentially a dead language. For historical and sociological reasons it is nice to study the history of Jews arriving in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries and their media, but outside a tiny number of people who keep it barely breathing there is nothing left.

They are interested in pretending to preserve a culture that exists only in history, one that doesn’t affect their lives today. That is the Judaism of the socialist Left.

But there is another Yiddish that is thriving – the Yiddish of the Chassidic communities in New York. They have newspapers, magazines, children’s periodicals and books. It doesn’t need preservation – Yiddish newspapers have hundreds of pages in an era where secular newspapers are shrinking.

No one in the secular Yiddish community is interested in current Yiddish culture. Because it is the Yiddish of a living, breathing people who are committed to living Yiddishkeit. Even though it is centered on the anti-Zionist Satmar chassidic community, this is not something that the socialist Left wants anything to do with.

Yiddish is the microcosm of how people think of Judaism.

If you care about Judaism, you would want to prioritize Jewish education, Jewish culture, and Jewish living today, not yesterday. Preserving the memory of the Holocaust is important but preserving Judaism today is more important. Living Jews are a higher priority than martyred Jews. Keeping them Jewish and proud should be the project that proud Jews support.

Right now, Israel is where that is happening more than anywhere else. The most innovative and creative Jewish education and cultural initiatives are in Israel. If anything, we need to export their ideas to Jews in the diaspora. American Jews are hanging on, Israeli Jews are thriving. In Israel, Judaism is happening today, not the turn of the 20th century.

There may be exceptions but “progressive” anti-Zionist Jews are more interested in dead Judaism than in Judaism that demands participation, creativity and innovation.

If they cared about Judaism, they would care about Israel.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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