By Gilad Atzmon
Ynet reviewed today the work of Dr. Adam Ferziger, an expert in the study of modern Jewish denominations. The Israeli academic contends that due to assimilation “the absolute majority of American Jewry won't be Jews anymore”.
According to Dr. Ferziger, Americans are just not anti-Semitic enough to maintain traditional Jewish identity. Jews have integrated so well “that most Americans don’t see being a Jew as a negative thing, but actually consider it an advantage”.
Seemingly, without being hated Jews are “getting lost”.
Ferziger continues, “Anti-Semitic phenomena are rare, especially in the upper class of the American population, and at the end of the day its open arms were what determined the assimilation trend and helped speed it up”. The take-home message is pretty clear. Jews cannot sustain their identity unless confronted by indignation in their surrounding environment. In short, it is anti-Semitism that sustains Jewish existence.
The Christmas tree is, apparently, also a significant threat, according to Ferziger. “Surveys conducted in recent years revealed a growth in the number of Jewish families that put up a Christmas tree in their home and mark Christmas as a sort of American holiday…. Yet they do not feel a contradiction between being Jewish and using holiday symbols which they see as more universal than religious”. I guess that universalism in general poses a critical threat to the tribally oriented mind.
But the Jewish genius once again found a solution. Instead of fighting assimilation, the American Jewish establishment actually adopted a “flexible accommodation”: “In most Reform and Conservative communities there is an acceptance of the reality of mixed marriages, and there is a desire to find solutions... In as early as 1983, the Reform recognized children as Jewish, and they are wanted in the synagogue. But the innovation is that after a great internal conflict in many places, it was decided that the non-Jewish parent would also be invited to be a full-fledged member of the community” .
The conclusion is obvious. The Jewish community in America is actually expanding and rapidly. “The prevalent perception in America is that synagogue membership is a sort of “Jewish citizenship”. You pay taxes, visit the synagogue several times a year, and use its services when there's a bar mitzvah or a wedding”.
The contemporary American Jewish leadership has managed to extend the notion of Jewish ethnocentrism – “the synagogue affiliation is a Jewish-American statement that you belong to the Jewish collective”. And indeed, “recent studies have proved explicitly that an affiliation with a synagogue holds significant power”.
Rather than disappearing, what we see in practice, actually, is a surge of Jewish collectivism and power.
It may be true that traditional Jewish blood-related tradition is in decline in the USA, but Jewish spiritual collectivism is far from being defeated. It is actually expanding rapidly. Once they find a Jewish partner, every goy can join the Chosen as long as their synagogue tax duties are paid.
This commodification and privatization of Judaism is hardly surprising. However, the thought that all these new Jews will have to be hated in order to maintain their newly acquired exceptionalist “religious” identity may entail some gross violence ahead.