American Jewry’s Drift from Israel is about Low Self-Esteem

A number of pundits have proposed what sound like similar reasons for the divide between Israel and what is now, unfortunately, a majority of American Jews. They point to the extent to which American Jewry now identifies more with their Americanism than with their Judaism, manifested both by intermarriage and by a lack of understanding of what Israel means as a Jewish state.

I want to suggest that the reason is deeper: The loss of Jewish identity is due to an attenuation of Jewish self-esteem.

America has been very good for the Jews. The generations who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries found a land of great opportunities, and their offspring benefited from access to higher education and the booming economy, such that there are few areas of life in which American Jews have failed to excel.

But the State of Israel represents the specialness of the Jewish people, which started with the patriarchs and the matriarchs, and continued through the enslavement in Egypt and the Exodus, the giving of the Torah at Sinai, and the conquest of the land of Israel. Despite millennia of exile from the land and of anti-Semitism, Jewish specialness persists to this day. None of the efforts of nation after nation have succeeded in erasing the underlying identity of the Jews, which is based on the self-esteem of each Jew and the communal self-esteem of the Jewish people.

Read the rest of this article as published on August 25, 2016, in JWeekly.com