“Jews have no future in the United States.” I’ve heard this phrase plenty of times. It is true, no doubt. Yet one must analyze thoroughly why this is so.
And we sure are a stiff-necked nation, so I can imagine He might have to do some nudging. G-D willing, light nudges are all we are going to need. But in the meantime, we have come to equate Miami and Crown Heights to our dear Jerusalem, G-D forbid. The German Jews did the same with Berlin. Assimilation among our people has reached epic proportions, and yet we are still reminded that we cannot run from our heritage, no matter how hard we try. We are all like dreamers in a land that is not ours, and Hashem has been, and will be knocking at our doors, and he needs us to come out the door, as His humble servants.
That brings me back to the phrase, “Jews have no future in the United States.” I have a question to ask: if, hypothetically, Jews continue to live well in the USA, if is no persecution, if life is here, will Jews have a future here? No! Why? Because this is not the Jewish land, this is not the land designated to us by Hashem.
Count the number of times that Hashem tells us to possess the land, dwell in it, settle it, and observe the mitzvot in it. “This is the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances that the Lord, your God, commanded to teach you, to perform in the land into which you are about to pass, to possess it…keep all His statutes and His commandments that I command you, you, your son, and your son's son, all the days of your life, and in order that your days may be lengthened” (Devarim 6:1-2).
We are being commanded to possess the land, to observe the mitzvot in it - us, our children, and our children’s children! Not because of persecution, not because the economy is better, the weather is nicer, the food is tastier, or any other reason, but because it is given to us by Hashem…to possess! He gives the land to us. It’s our inheritance. One can inherit something and not use it. But in this case, Hashem commands us to possess it! It is ours, and that is what Jews must feel. We must first possess it in our hearts, so that we may possess it with our actions.
This brings me to even further examination of the statement, “Jews have no future in the United States.” This statement is missing the point of living in Israel. Living in Israel has nothing to do with the conditions outside of it. Countless Tzaddikim made grueling journeys to our land by foot through the centuries when the “payout” of living in Israel was not high. Their host country was probably more comfortable to live in. Yet they loved the land so much that they were willing to go, even in their old age just to see the glory of Tzion, even if only for a short glimpse. I wholeheartedly believe that a tenth of this love for our land - during a time when living in Israel is not nearly as difficult as it was in the days of the Ramban - would inspire Aliyah.
This love cannot be fostered by the statement, “Jews have no future in the United States.” This statement has not inspired Jews to love their land because it doesn’t call out for love! It boils the situation down to practicalities. It doesn’t speak to the G-D-given truth that this land is ours. It is ours to inherit, ours to possess, and ours to love. When one detracts from the truth, the message is adulterated and doesn’t retain its true potency.
What Jew with friends, community, family, and a good job would want to pick up to go to another country because someone told him that he has no future in his current country? He feels just fine in his current country. And out of all places, he is being told to go to a country in the Middle East. The culture is different, the job scene is different, the language is different, everything is different! As much as it is simple to throw catch phrases like, “Jews have no future in the United States,” it is ultimately an easy way to wipe one’s hands of the responsibility of actually doing the work of truly inspiring a love and connection for the land within the Jewish people.
So, you are right: Jews have no future in the United States. Neither do we have a future in France, or in Argentina, or elsewhere; only in Israel, our eternal home. Our soul must be reattached to the body. Hashem breathed life into us and ushered in our existence, and so we must breathe love into the Jewish people for our land.
Will there likely be persecution as Jews continue resisting? Perhaps, G-D forbid. However, what good does it do to scare them about their future without instilling a real, true love for our land? At best it creates a skeptical population. If one is truly connected to how misplaced the Jewish nation is living in galut, then I would humbly like to urge you to spend less time telling our brothers and sisters that they have no future here, that they will be persecuted, G-D forbid. Instead, rise!
Rise like a lion! We do not need to resort to relating the worst possible circumstances out of desperation. Hashem does the real work. Our Torah that Hashem gave us is enough to awaken a Jewish soul. I urge you to roll up your sleeves and relate to each Jew like they are your child. Each child is unique. Explain, explain many times, explain many different ways, with love, patience, and truth. Not circumstantial truth, but eternal truth communicated to us by Hashem through our beloved Torah. May Hashem bless your efforts.
David Sheyman is a young professional living in the Silicon Valley area who is also doing community work with his wife, the former Helena Hawkins, to unite Bay Area Jewry.