Tzvi Fishman
Tzvi FishmanINN: TF

Last week, Rabbi Hershel Tzvi Schachter spoke at the Boca Raton Synagogue in Florida. Rabbi Schachter is Rosh Yeshiva of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in New York (REITS), the Rabbinical Kollel of Yeshiva University. He is widely respected as one of America’s leading halakhic authorities. In the course of his lecture he said, “We are all doing wrong - we should all be living in Eretz Yisrael.”

Before I comment on his bold and not-often-heard statement, allow me to relate a small parable. A patient arrived at his doctor’s office to receive the results of extensive medical tests. With a look of sympathy and concern the doctor informed him that the patient had a dangerous cancer which had to be treated immediately. Angrily, the patient stood up from his chair and started yelling at the doctor. “What kind of physician are you?!” he screamed. “How dare you tell me that I have cancer?! What chutzpah you have! You are the one who is sick, not me!”

This is exactly the reaction which I have received from Jews in the Diaspora to hundreds of essays which I penned out of love and concern, like a physician treating a patient, essays declaring that there is no Jewish future for Jews who choose to live outside of the Land of Israel – a reaction which this current essay is sure to evoke as well.

Firstly, let me state that Jews in the Diaspora have the classification of children who were taken by non-Jews and raised amongst the gentiles. Because of the cultural and spiritual impurity which envelops gentile lands, Jews who live in foreign lands have, by-and-large, received a distorted understanding of Hashem and His Torah. On one hand, they cannot be blamed for the way they think, nor for a mindset which is dominated by a focus on the material world and on one’s personal ego – foundations of modern Western society. This explains their life choices – for example to remain in gentile countries and not to come home to the Jewish Homeland as prescribed again and again in the Torah and in our prayers. And precisely for this reason the plague of assimilation in America is approaching eighty percent.

Reports indicate that the war in Israel has caused Jewish families in American, those with a semi-warm connection to Israel, to move further away from the Jewish State and their own Jewish identity in hopes of escaping the growing animosity towards Jews. In the religious world, even the American Jews who see the writing on the wall are hoping that it will pass, clinging to their children to keep them at their side come hell or high water, still pushing them to colleges where they are not wanted and toward the American dream of lucrative careers.

Last week I stopped by a falafel stand in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood of Jerusalem to grab a quick lunch. Hearing a table full of teenagers speaking English with obvious American accents I asked them what they were doing in Israel. All of them wore black yarmulkes. It turned out they were students from New York studying in a nearby yeshiva that had a two-year program for young American Jews. They said that the program had been depleted because most of the Americans had gone back home for the summer and the High Holidays and hadn’t yet returned because of the war.

Three out of the four said that their parents were pressuring them to return and one boy’s father had even called the Rosh Yeshiva telling him that he wanted his son to leave Israel.

In contrast, the parents of one of the fellows encouraged him to keep learning in Israel because of the increasing attacks of anti-Semitism in the States.

All of them said they were planning to return to America after the first-year of study ended in order to begin college. I asked them if their yeshiva Rabbis spoke about the importance of Aliyah. “What’s Aliyah?” one of them joked. The notion of living in Israel is something not to be found in their curriculum, and the guest lecturers who were selected to speak at their school never mentioned the subject, they said.

Obviously, these young people possess a true love for Israel just as their parents do. The spirit of generous giving witnessed throughout the Diaspora in Israel’s recent time of need is worthy of upmost praise. Nonetheless, for most of the young Jews of America, both religious and secular, their life plan is to finish college and graduate school in a peaceful fashion, get married, work at their careers and live in a comfortable home with a few cars and a savings account for their children who will follow in their American Jewish footsteps, with visits to Israel for bar and bat mitzvahs as part of family trips to Italy and Southern France.

This perhaps was most glaringly expressed during the recent mass demonstration in support of Israel which took place in Washington D.C. While a Jew is indeed called upon to bless the government wherever he lives, please note the words of the song that the crowd sang out proudly in unison: “God bless America, land that I love… God bless America, my home sweet home.”

Do the Jews who flocked by their thousands to the demonstration in Washington really consider America their home – not Israel? Seeing the expressions of patriotism and loyalty to America on the faces of young Jews assembled in Washington as they sang the words of the American hymn, I cringed at the singing of this heartfelt ode and with this oath of allegiance to a foreign country which welcomed Jews and gave them freedom, but where today assimilation and Jew hatred abound, not only under the surface, but with the dawn of each new American day.

The Jews in America are innocent. They are not to blame. They are like children taken over by the goyim. No one bothered to teach them their real identity. No one taught them that Abraham is their true father and not George Washington. I love them. I love every one of them. In Israel, we pray every day, three times a day, for the ingathering of those still captive in exile.

I hope with all of my heart that the Jews of America take heed to the brave words of Rabbi Schachter, urging them to rethink their Jewish future in America. May the Almighty swiftly open the eyes of our brothers and sisters in all foreign lands and bring them home peacefully to our one-and-only Jewish Homeland before all of them assimilate or are forced to flee from their dangerously unhealthy “home sweet homes.”

Books by Tzvi Fishman
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