Monday, March 27, 2023

I was very disappointed to read Rabbi Bloom’s scathing (and in my opinion, unjustified) critique of American Jewish leadership in last week’s paper (“American Jewish Leadership Failure or Antisemitism and Aliyah?” December 15, 2022). The rise in antisemitism is very concerning and Rabbi Bloom feels that “The only answer to this problem is aliyah to Israel,” as if depleting every other country’s Jewish population will magically make antisemitism disappear. The reality is that Israel is the world’s largest target of antisemitism and it requires a complex collaboration of internal and external partners to survive. It is naive to think that in today’s world of globalization and hester panim that Israel can survive alone without allies.

American Jews are on the front lines combating antisemitism every day and cultivating meaningful relationships with political leaders, which results in material aid and defense money funded by U.S. taxpayers to Israel and much-needed and often isolated support for Israel in the U.N. It would serve Rabbi Bloom and like minded Israelis well to remember that the success of the modern state of Israel is due in large part from contributions of diaspora communities from all over the globe. Proud Jews making kiddushei Hashem in college campuses across the U.S. are doing more to combat antisemitism than Rabbi Bloom surrounded by yidden in Yerushalayim.

I am a proud Zionist and support the state of Israel in every way I can. I believe that the religious, cultural, economic and communal future of the Jewish people will be centered in Israel. However, just as the ancient Jewish communities in Babylon and Persia served their purpose despite the Jewish presence in the land of Israel in antiquity, so too are the American and broader diaspora communities vital for the success and continuity of the Jewish future in Israel. To degrade our leadership and dismiss our people of being destined for assimilation will only promote further distance between American Jews and Israel. It would behoove Rabbi Bloom and other Zionists in influential positions to change their rhetoric to be more supportive of the American Jewish community, even if we choose to express our Zionism from afar.

Shaina Brander
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