Connecting young Jews in Diaspora with Israel

Marriage of Israeli-American woman to European football player illustrates need to strengthen Jewish identity in Israel, says Lavi Olami.

Raphael Levy ,

Sisters with Israeli flag
Sisters with Israeli flag

Ilan Roth, director of the Lavi Olami Organization that has opened a number of “Jewish Houses” in several European countries, criticizes Israeli indifference towards intermarriage.

Roth spoke in reaction to the marriage of Barcelona football player Sergio Roberto with Israeli-American model Coral Simanovich.

“The marriage of an Israeli woman to a European football player is a serious matter, not only because of assimilation, but because this occurrence is treated with acceptance, as though it is natural and normal. A large part of the population doesn't understand this is a problem,” says Roth.

According to Roth, the solution lies, along with other means, in the Jewish Houses that are involved with outreach and strengthening Jews' identity in the Diaspora and promoting Zionism, as well as well as preventing intermarriage. “The Jewish people in Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities must work together, hand in hand, to strengthen Jewish identity in Israel and the Diaspora. I call upon the Prime Minister to announce an emergency program through the youth and student organizations to connect young people to Judaism and the State of Israel. Young people who are attached to their Judaism and their homeland will not quickly assimilate. Only young people who are attached to their Judaism and proud of their Jewishness will make aliyah and link their destiny with ours. The programs that exist today are insufficient and do not fulfill their purpose. We need a worldwide program to combat assimilation,” adds Roth.

The Lavi Olami Director explains why there is a need to strengthen Jewish identity among Diaspora Jews by the State of Israel, and not only leaving this task to private organizations. “The struggle against assimilation is left mainly in the hands of the haredim and Chabad, and the thought that this is the way we'll succeed in reducing this phenomenon is mistaken thinking for a number of reasons. First of all, only organizations that combine proud and strong Judaism whose sources and roots are planted in the State of Israel, and are oriented towards Israel, can bring a message to the Jewish youth of the Diaspora that is relevant to today."

Roth declares that we should not worry about calling for aliya to Israel. “Messages of remaining in the Diaspora and keeping a few mitzvot is a limited and 'galuti' (Diaspora oriented) viewpoint. It returns the Jewish people to the shtetl. The young people of the Diaspora need a message that calls them to be an active part of the rebirth of the Jewish people in its homeland and part of the process of redemption. Only organizations that combine Judaism with Zionism have a true and complete message. We must give an additional and powerful alternative to young people in the Diaspora."