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Schools against assimilation

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On October 30, 2012 @ 9:56 am In Jewish isolation | No Comments

There are major doctrinal differences between Jewish behavior in Israel and the Diaspora. Jews’ Gentile spouses in Israel effectively join the Jewish people. Gentiles’ Jewish spouses in the Diaspora effectively abandon the Jewish people. The burden of conversion could be relatively light in Israel—as it has been historically—and heavy in the Diaspora. Gentile spouses in Israel could undergo de facto conversion by settling in the territories and sending their children to the IDF’s combat regiments; such a proof of conversion is no less valid than a rabbinical court’s decision.

Jewish communal and religious schools in the Diaspora need to introduce basic nationalist subjects: history of modern Israel and local Jewish history—particularly of local anti-Semitism. Jews must know that deep inside, the locals hate them—and that the worldwide Jewish community, now realized in Israel, is their only hope for survival.

Frequent gatherings are an important way to build communities, but also to destroy them. Jews assembled at the community centers could reinforce one another’s communal attachments, but also could show each other that it is socially acceptable to assimilate. If the Jews want to remain different, they must learn intolerance—not messianic jihad, but passive intolerance, the wall of cultural isolation. It is ok to publicly condemn the Jews who come to community gatherings with unconverted Gentile spouses; it is shameful to enter into such marriages, let alone flaunt them. It is ok to hold vigils near the community centers to protest assimilationist policies and events. Good Jews have to abandon politeness and political correctness.

Dull Jewish events attract no one, and affluent Jews detest the primitive entertainment. As my reader Aaron noted, it is critical to make Jewish entertainment events first-class. Extroverted Jews won’t mind paying considerable premiums for the events, Jewish should mean, the best. Outstanding events could not be frequent, but would energize the Jewish crowds for the periods in between.

Free Jewish schools are a must to counter assimilation. Given the high costs of private education and low standards of public education, Jewish parents would send their children to free private Jewish schools en masse. We must ensure that the schools don’t become a trap that scorches Judaism out of the children’s souls rather than instilling Jewish values. That is not easy or straightforward, but any kind of Jewish education is better than none. Jewish colleges, particularly Brandeis, must again become Jewish places rather than assimilationist melting pots.

Jews cannot afford to compromise on their children’s learning, but Jewish schools are mostly inferior to other private schools. The inferiority is unavoidable: Jews are few, schools are monopolist, and there’s no demand-driven competitive improvement. Organizing Jew-only classes in other private schools is a viable alternative. Christian schools are the best bet: they are sufficiently distinctive to prevent Jewish students from intermingling with other pupils.

The assimilated Jews are not entirely assimilated. They marry Gentiles because they see no reason to do otherwise, but they follow events in Israel. They feel comfortable encountering other Jews and dealing with them. Three-thousand-year-old differences don’t evaporate in a generation or two. The inherent Jewishness is there, and it can and should be developed.


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