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Next year at great wolf lodge

01/16/2020 03:58:42 PM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

In the winter edition of the Jewish Review of Books, I came across an astounding claim by writer Tal Keinan that “expatriate Israelis are even more likely to intermarry than American Jews.”
Since reading that statement, I’ve done a cursory web search. I’ve been unable to find evidence to back that claim up. Nonetheless, I have to admit that if it’s even partially true, a large part of me would not find it to be all that surprising.
While there are a number of wonderful Israelis who affiliate with Etz Chaim (some are even intermarried!), most are typically married to American Jews, or are long-standing members. In contrast, the astounding number of new Israelis whom I often encounter newly living in the city of Atlanta choose not to affiliate, let alone to take part in the wealth of Jewish life in our city.
Why? Many sense is that these expatriate Israelis were largely raised in secular homes and desire to practice that same secularism abroad. Unfortunately, they fail to understand that choosing to go to a Tel Aviv beach on Yom Kippur in Israel is not the same as taking a vacation to Great Wolf Lodge on the High Holy Days in Atlanta. To be a chiloni, a secular Israeli living in Israel, puts you in good company. You still live a largely “Jewish” existence. You get married by a rabbi. Your office expects you to take seven days off of work for shiva. Even if you are not trying all that hard, it’s difficult to meet a non-Jewish partner.
Unfortunately, to be a secular Israeli living in America is to live as a secular American. Our national holidays are not Jewish holidays. If a Yom Kippur Tree falls in the forest, and you are not in shul to hear it, Yom Kippur simply passes by. It’s much easier to slip away--not to mention one’s children--from Jewish life if you are talush min hakarka, detached from the ground of Jewish identity.
I don’t have an answer to this quandary, but I welcome your thoughts. Our local Israeli population have a tremendous amount to offer our Jewish community. I only hope that we further bring them into the Jewish community before they disappear entirely.

Maybe, I should host High Holy Day services next year at Great Wolf Lodge.

Tue, April 7 2020 13 Nisan 5780