Since the destruction of the Second Temple until very recently, the masses of the Jewish people did not dwell in the Land of Israel. For 2000 years. the majority of Jews dwelled in the Diaspora, among non-Jews. Jews were dispersed in far flung places such as Poland, Morocco, Iran, Ethiopia and even China. They spoke different languages, like Yiddish, Ladino or the local tongue, and differed very much in customs, cuisine and clothing from other Jews in other exiles. Yet, despite intense persecution, massacres, pogroms, suffering and poverty, the Jewish nation survived intact, the many generation since Sinai until the today. Through the force of their dedication and commitment to Judaism, they were able to withstand the most brutal and horrible of circumstances.
Generally, the second or third generation of immigrants assimilates quite fully into the host culture. The only reminder of their origins may be the occasional family cultural celebration, a grandparent with a heavy accent or maybe a trip back to their home country. It is incredible that Jews, dispersed and separated for 2000 years, did not assimilate but always maintained their own identity. Away from their land, with no country to go back to, Jews were able to survive.
Within the span of several generations, a new and frightening trend has emerged. All Jews, until a hundred or so years ago, were religiously observant, fully and wholly committed to Judaism. Because of this, Jews were able to survive the harsh Diaspora. However, today assimilation is taking a frightening toll on Jewish communities in the United States, Canada, Russia and Western Europe.
Consider the following statistics*:
Jewish identity is declining sharply.
Of 5.6 million Jews, 2 million American Jews live in households identified as non-Jewish
60% of Jews below 40 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish
20% of Jews over 60 years of age live in households identified as non-Jewish
Intermarriage rates are increasing dramatically.
Before 1965, 10% of Jews who married, did so outside the faith.
Since 1985, 52% of Jews who married have done so outside the faith.
Children are being raised as non-Jews.
1 million, or 54% of all American Jewish children under the age of 18 are being raised as non-Jews or with no religion.
Fertility Rates are not high enough to replenish the religion.
The average fertility rate of American Jewish women is 1.4 children per household. The replacement level is 2.1 children.
Less emphasis is being placed on a Jewish education.
In 1962, 540,000 Jewish children were attending afternoon weekend schools, and 60,000 were enrolled in day schools. By 1990, fewer than 240,000 Jewish children attended afternoon /weekend schools and 140,000 attended day schools.
NET LOSS -- 220,000 Jewish children.
Traditional Shabbat observance is extremely low.
Only 36% of Jewish households light the Shabbat Candles.
Of the population that consists of people who were born Jewish and are Jewish by choice, only 11% attend synagogue weekly.
* All Statistics taken from Council of Jewish Federations' 1990 National Jewish Population Survey. This is the most comprehensive source of American Jewish data available
The Jewish population worldwide is sharply decreasing, ravaged by the scourges of intermarriage and assimilation. A census taken before Rosh HaShana 5769 found that the Jewish population worldwide increased by 70 000, only due to natural increase in Israel. A very shocking study found that within 3 generations, 97% of non-Orthodox Jewry in the United States will be extinct.
This is a tragedy of epic proportions. The nation that stood at Sinai and received G-d's Torah barely knows about Purim and Shavuot. The Chosen People eat cheeseburgers, not even knowing that they might be unkosher! Taught by the Jewish Establishment Organizers that "thou shalt melt", Jewish parents sent their kids to public schools, creating a generation of Jewish illiterates who know little more that Fiddler on the Roof, gefilte fish and a Yiddish expression or two. This is the most pressing threat facing the Jewish people today. The apathy of young Jews and their total disconnect and alienation from Judaism should frighten and worry every single Jews who is committed to the future of his people.
During Israel's recent operation in Gaza, Jewish leaders were extremely concerned over the alarming increase in anti-Israel around the world. Not to deny the seriousness of these anti-semitic attacks, the biggest danger threatening the Jewish today comes not from anti-semitism but from assimilation and intermarriage. There is a silent Holocaust going on in the Diaspora as young Jews marry outside of the faith, their Jewishness completely irrelevant to them, a mere accident of birth. Yet, the Jewish leaders are completely silent, doing nothing to try and reach out to our brothers and sisters who are slowly drowning in goyishkeit. If these current rates continue, the future does not bode well for Jewish continuity.
Raised in completely secular environments devoid of spirituality, young Jews look for meaning in other paths and belief systems. They travel to India and live in ashrams, or become Buddhists or Zen followers. These alienated Jews make easy prey for missionary groups like Jews for Jesus who thrive on Jewish illiteracy and ignorance. Most have only the faintest inklings of Jewish rituals, a quick show at "temple" on the high holidays, boring and irrelevant classes at Hebrew School, or a family seder. They have never been exposed to the incredible spirituality in Judaism and are often amazed when they discover that Judaism has a deep spiritual legacy. Intermarriage is only the last step in complete assimilation, finalizing the irrevocable break with the tradition and lineage that extends to Sinai and before, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For generations of Jews, the question of "why be Jewish?" is unimportant. They were sent to public schools, encouraged to interfaith and integrate with non-Jews and now their own Jewish identities are nil.
To any Jew who is reading this article, I beg them please to seriously consider their own Judaism. Their ancestors gave their lives in order that they should live as Jews. Imagine their great-great grandfathers in the shtetls of Ukraine or the juderias of Spain, and how much it would pain them to know that they overcame pogroms and Inquisitions, Crusades and Auschwitz, only for their children to willingly give up their Judaism. Please, I beg you to return home, to your roots and to your people.
May HaShem merit that all of His children should come home very soon.