In 1948 when David Ben Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish population in Israel was about 713,000. The Jewish population in the US was 5,000,000 and 1,500,000 people strong in Canada) [Jewish World Population –http://www.ajcarchives.org/ajc_data/files/1950_7_wjp.pdf].
In 2012 about 5,901,000 Jews lived in Israel while 5,425,000 lived in the US and 375,000 lived in Canada. In other words, while Israel’s Jewish population is eight times bigger than it was in 1948, the US Jewish population remained the same as it was 64 years earlier and the Canadian Jewish population lost three quarters of its size.
While Israel saw it as a matter of survival to ensure the growth of its Jewish population and encouraged Jews to immigrate to Israel, North American Jewish communities failed not only to maintain what they had and rely on the general natural population growth curve to increase their size, North American Jewish communities actually lost the battle against other religions and saw many of their children leave the Jewish faith. Was it avoidable and what should have been done differently is not important. What’s done is done. The question is what should the Jewish people (all Jewish people, not just the North American Jewry) do now to stop this trend, before history repeats itself, and just like the Northern kingdom of Israel and all its people disappeared, leaving the kingdom of the Judah to carry the Torah torch by itself, the North American Jewry (half of the Jewish people) may one day in the foreseeable future disappear too.
Many North American Jews are disorganized and lack strong leaders to rally behind. They also lack an ideology, a road map, to guide them as a nation. For some, supporting strong Israel is the uniting driver; others are active in local synagogues, but very many others are neither. Many North American Jews do not see Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, as their leaders, the same way orthodox Jews do not see a conservative rabbi as their leader and vice versa.
Is there a way to stop this trend?
I hope that the uniting event won’t be another Jewish disaster, but a proactive daily activity like publishing on this website or participating in one of many other Jewish events and activities, to rejuvenate interest and the feeling of belonging among disconnected Jewish people in North America.
Herzl once said “If you will it, it is no dream”
One man with a vision and a conviction was able to create a state; there is no telling what we can achieve as a group.