Rudominצילום: INN: R.R
With the hoopla and near-celebratory tone of articles in the Jewish media about how "great it is" that Joe Biden has family members who are intermarried to Jews, the following is a more sober and somber look at this very sad phenomenon.

Anyone involved in Kiruv Rechokim, Jewish outreach by Torah Jews to their secularized and non Orthodox brethren has known for a long time that the rate of intermarriage in America is coming closer and closer to 100% for secular Jews.

In 1990 the so-called National Jewish Population Survey gave a number of 52% for the rate of intermarriage. The same type of 2000 study yielded a figure of 58% while a 2013 Pew Research Center of U.S. Jews survey found that "Jews of no religion are much more likely to be in mixed marriages; just 21% of married Jews of no religion are married to a Jewish spouse, while 79% are married to a non-Jewish spouse." Update this to 2020 and you can well understand why the figures for intermarriage are now hovering at around 100% for non-Orthodox Jews.

The Pew Research organization also found that "Among Jews, the adult offspring of intermarriages are also much more likely than people with two Jewish parents to describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or just 'nothing in particular.' This is the case among all recent generations of U.S. Jews." Almost half of younger secular Jews are single, and "Among married Jews who report that only one of their parents was Jewish, fully 83% are married to a non-Jewish spouse."

And keep in mind, even Pew says so, that "intermarriage is practically nonexistent among Orthodox Jews; 98% of the married Orthodox Jews in the survey have a Jewish spouse." You get the drift, the forces of assimilation, intermarriage and finally, converting out of Judaism (what is known as "Shmad" in Judaism, literally "apostasy") are now in full fruition historically, sociologically, politically, and of course, spiritually.

How to digest this bad news from a Jewish point of view? As a Kiruv (Outreach) worker for a long time, I am not intimidated. The above scenarios of doom and gloom are precisely what motivates any Kiruv worker, rabbis and Jewish educators to do what they can to save what can be saved from the tidal wave of assimilation, intermarriage and leaving Judaism.

On the other hand, there is also the view that we should mourn for our losses. There is a comprehensive Jewish theology for mourning tragedies of real losses of lives. We have days of mourning on our Jewish calendar for the tragedies that befell the Jewish people, Tisha Be'av being the most significant. Even on Yom Kippur we remember and cry out for what happened to the Ten Martyrs (Asara Harugei Malchus) and the moving Unetane Tokef prayer on Yom Kippur was supposedly composed by Rebbi Amnon of Mainz in the Mioddle Ages who was tortured to death for defying a Catholic priest.

In Israel there is Yom HaShoah - Holocaust Memorial Day to remember the Holocaust, the genocide of over six million Jews by the Nazis and their henchmen.

But there is deafening silence when it comes to dealing with what has come to be known as THE SILENT HOLOCAUST that sees, at this very moment about six million mostly non-Orthodox American Jews going down the tubes, as they say.

The Joe Biden era may bring American Jews to confront this issue. Those around Joe Biden, like Kamala Harris and his two children, are married to Jews (one son who passed away was apparently also married to a Jewish woman). Biden's choice for secretary of state Antony Blinken is apparently also Jewish and married to a Christian woman.

This is the Silent Holocaust in action, and it is not so silent. There are real implications for Israel in this situation. What type of influence will Joe Biden be under with the intermarried Blinken and Harris and other top-ranked Biden people who are Jewish or married to Jews all around him? What impact will this situation have on his policies to Israel and its own set of more than six million Jews living there?

Trump is a friend of Israel no matter what anyone thinks of him, but what will be with Joe Biden and how will his coterie of secular and intermarried Jews guide him? Will they surprise the world and be "Queen Esther" in disguise? Or will they be "more Catholic than the Pope"? No one knows at this point.

But Kiruv workers are not discouraged! Especially not as Hanukkah approaches with its theme of the victory of the Jews not just over the Yevanim (Greeks -- non-Jews), but even more significantly over the Mityavnim (Hellenists and Hellenizers -- those Jews who adopted the ways of the Greeks).

Years ago, when I used to attend the annual conventions of AJOP, the Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals (I was one of the Trustees of that organization from 1994 to 1997) there was always a question and answer time with leading Poskim (Halakhic authorities), and the famous question was, as an outreach worker, what do you do when you are confronted with an intermarried couple? Do you reject them or accept them? And if you "accept" them how and why?

The answers that were given, and still are by these Halakhic guides of Kiruv workers is that in order to form a connection with the Jewish spouse, and especially when the Jewish spouse is the one showing an interest in Yiddishkeit, you need to try to work towards helping the non-Jewish spouse convert to Judaism halakhically. Now this may sound impossible, but for Kiruv workers in the field, this is the "bread and butter" of what they must go through on a daily basis.

The rationale, say the Poskim, is that you are dealing with a married couple, often with children, and they cannot be split by an outsider. Therefore the Kiruv worker must work to not only mekarev (bring close to Judaism) the Jewish spouse, but to see to it that the non-Jewish spouse becomes Jewish too.

We are not talking about Reform, Conservative - whose fictitious conversions are not accepted out of their circles - or secular scenarios, this is all taking place in the here and now in Orthodox, Haredi, and Hasidic Jewish outreach circles. It's an everyday occurrence. In South Africa for example, the Beth Din dealing with conversions takes it a step further, after establishing the sincerity of a potential convert, it demands that the non-religious Jewish spouse join their spouse in studying Judaism in order to become observant.

In Israel there is a stand-off between the religious and the secular worlds with each not giving in to the other. The religious are inspired to to increase their efforts to reach out and Mekarev ("draw closer") their secular brethren. There are also thorny issues of conversion in Israel today especially as it relates to immigrants from the former Soviet Union and now increasingly from the United States as non-Orthodox Jews make Aliyah. Only Orthodox conversions through the Chief Rabbinate are recognized in Israel and that is why converts in Israel are recognized as Jews worldwide.

How does one treat people who are not Halakhically Jewish, meaning the mother is not Jewish by birth or conversion, but may have had a grandparent or two who were Jewish, or those whose Yichus (lineage) is unknown? Israel's challenges are not less daunting than America's, and much effort is made to track previous generations of those wishing to be recognized as Jews, but whereas in Israel Jews live as a majority in a Jewish country, in America they are only a small minority swamped by a culture alien to Judaism.

The Joe Biden era is the apotheosis of assimilation, intermarriage and apostasy (conversion by Jews to other religions that follows), as seen both in his own family and those surrounding him politically, and it's a symbol of what has happened to American Jewry.

It seems that the Silent Holocaust is at its height now, as we witness the peeling away of around six million non-Orthodox Jews from the body of true Judaism and from the indestructible Jewish People that has survived both physical and spiritual destruction for well over three millennia. Every Kiruv worker in America must be pondering the thought of how to Mekarev (bring closer to Torah Judaism) those misguided, misinformed and alienated Jewish souls perched all the way up there with Joe biden and co.

It's done on the communal level all the time by all Kiruv workers. It's done on the national and global level all the time especially by Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim all the time. If there is a silver lining of some sort of "Queen Esther" hidden in the blur of the possibly oncoming Joe Biden era, then there surely also has to be the hidden and not so hidden influence of a "Mordechai." Who knows? Time will tell. But don't hold your breath!

Our rabbinic sages teach, interpreting the Book of Daniel, that the Jewish People are destined to go through four exiles: Babylonia, Persia-Media, Greece, Rome, and that the long Roman exile will go through these stages as well. Some say that the era of Yishmael (Arabs) will be the last stage of the exile, but all agree that it is Greece-Yavan and Misyavnim-Hellenists that the Jewish Torah nation must and will overcome and that is why Hanukkah was established as a festival and has lasted for over 2,200 years!

The symbol of Hanukkah is the lighting of the 8 branched Menora (for the 8 days of the miracle of the oil, and called Hannukiya in Hebrew to differentiate it from the 7 branched Temple Memoras) that in turn is a symbol of the Menora in the ancient Jewish Temple - that in turn was a symbol of light which in turn was a symbol of Torah which is compared to Light, a symbol of the all powerful Or Haganuz, the great Hidden Light that connects to God Himself!

And as the Jewish sages teach: "A little light pushes aside a lot of darkness"! The final revelation of this supernal light is the hidden light and namely the light of Mashiach.

Every Jewish outreach Kiruv worker, like every Jewish Mechanech, educator, like every Klei Kodesh Jewish clergy, and ultimately like every single Torah Jew is capable of both bringing down, and bringing in, and ultimately directing and projecting that heavenly light by reaching out, through prayer, through good deeds, in the hope of seeing the Geula Sheleima, the Final Redemption speedily in our days!

Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin is president and founder of the Jewish Professionals Institute. An alumnus of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and Teachers College, Columbia University, he has dedicated his life to Jewish outreach and education, served for 7 years as full-time director of Sinai Heritage Centers in Manhattan and 3 as an AJOP trustee, .among many oher endeavors.