Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Adar 5761 - March 7, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Mass Aliyah is No Goal

Prime minister Sharon has been very free with declarations of intent in the weeks before he actually took office, and he has informed us of his goals and plans in many areas. One of these that is of special interest to most of the English- speaking Jewish world is the subject of aliya -- moving to Eretz Yisroel. Sharon has declared that Israel should undertake as a goal the attraction and absorption of a million immigrants over the next ten years, with the broader aim of having a majority of the world's Jews living in Israel within 20 years.

Sharon is one of the few remaining leaders from the founding generation of Israel, and his thinking reflects this. At first, the State was populated by Jewish immigrants: from war-ravaged Europe, from North Africa, from the Middle East. Unfortunately, today mass immigration to Israel, and even mass Jewish immigration, means masses of non-Jews.

The overall numbers of the last great wave of immigrants, the Russian immigrants of the last decade, show that more than half were not Jewish. When the figures are broken down into age groups it becomes clear that the Jewish immigrants tend to be the older ones so that in the younger age brackets the immigration was and is 80 percent non-Jewish. These figures are all based on official statistics. That is, they rely on the declarations of the incoming people as to whether on not they are Jewish. More than half of the current immigrants from the former Soviet Union declare that they are not Jewish. Informed observers give significantly higher estimates of the true non-Jewish proportion, including those who come in with forged documents.

Thus now, any increase in the number of arriving immigrants for the C.I.S., the source of the massive immigration of the last ten years, will increase the number of non-Jewish residents of the Holy Land more than the number of Jewish residents.

The situation in the United States, home to what is generally acknowledged to be the largest Jewish community in the world, is not much better, if at all. Anyone with experience with the Jewish communities outside of the major concentrations knows well that many who count themselves and are counted by others as Jews in good standing are not really Jewish according to halacha. Even today, the American Jewish community of some five million is really much less than that -- perhaps no more than half that many halachic Jews. This applies to many communities throughout the world. (Incidentally, the proportion of Jews living in Eretz Yisroel already is thus much higher than generally reckoned.)

Even today almost a million non-Jews live in Eretz Yisroel. Socially and culturally most of them are not distinguishable from the rest of the population. As a result they pose a threat of assimilation aimed at the entire Jewish population of Eretz Yisroel.

Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein recently issued an order that new immigrants who are converts to Judaism may no longer bring their non-Jewish family members into the country. (The State recognizes all conversions in chutz la'aretz as valid, with reference to halachic standards.) This is certainly a welcome move. However, we hope for a more general recognition of the seriousness of the situation and a change in policy throughout the government that will not allow the Ministry of Absorption to function as an agent of assimilation.

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