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August 02, 2002 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

Support Israeli Merchants

oes anyone remember the joint ads from
the tourism ministries of the State of
Israel and the Palestinian Authority that
appeared in major papers just a few years
back? Like so much that was positive then, it now
seems so distant. The anticipated millennium influx
of tourists never came, but the Palestinian-led upris-
ing did. And it stayed, taking more than 590 Israeli
lives since September 2000.
Today, the Mideast security situation is killing
Israel's tourism industry, and doing serious damage
to the economy. The real and imagined fears of trav-
el to Israel have resulted in closed stores along
Israel's major shopping thoroughfares and closed or
near-empty hotels nationwide. In the first
six months of 2002, 399,700 visitors
arrived in Israel, a 42 percent drop from
the first half of last year, according to data
reported recently by Israel's Central Bureau of
Statistics. Cruise ships no longer dock in Haifa; just
300 of those tourists arrived by sea, compared to
12,500 in the first half of 2001 and 134,000 in the
first half of 2000.
While American Jews and other supporters of •
Israel express their solidarity and support through
political action and fund-raising campaigns, few
dare to visit Israel. -While Israelis bemoan the lack of
visitors, many share the sense of fear that keeps dias-
pora Jews from making the journey. No matter how
passionate the appeal, and how low the cost of trav-
el, tourism just hasn't picked up.
But out of necessity often comes ingenuity. Such
is the case with the popularity of bringing Israeli
goods to American audiences — like the Ben
Yehudah Street Shopping Expo to be held Sunday-
Tuesday, Aug. 11-13, at the Jewish Community
Center in Oak Park.


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Buying "blue and white" provides tan-
gible and direct support for the Israelis
who provide Israel's entrepreneurial back-
bone. While donations of money at this
time of crisis are critical, they comprise a
very small percent of Israel's gross nation-
al product, which is nearing $100 billion.
The economic well being of Israel
depends on the Israeli people and their
ability to engage in productive corn-
And. that is where we can help.
It is not just the decline in tourism
hurting Israel. Increased security needs
necessitate new spending, an d
longer periods of reserve service
take wage earners away from
their jobs, affecting the bottom
line of families and businesses.
Additionally, focused efforts to damage
Israel's economy continue apace, as Arab
groups and their leftist supporters try to
brand Israel as an apartheid state and
encourage divestment of Israeli stocks
and boycotts on Israeli goods.
Buying Israeli is not a case of paying
higher prices for inferior goods. Israel has
quality products, but depends . on
expanding markets. If each of us dedi-
cates just some of our normal shopping
dollars to buying Israeli, we can help Israel to help
itself, and get wonderful items in return.
There is another bonus to buying Israeli: the
upbeat message we send to our families and friends
about our support for the Jewish state. Bring them
with you to the Expo. Our kids need to understand
that Israel is a lot more than a place where bombs

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Jewish Life On Campus

oes it matter that Jewish college freshmen
would rather, as a recent account had it, paint
than pray? Or that they are more politically
liberal than college freshmen of other religious
backgrounds? Or that they would rather talk about reli-
gion than observe its practices?
The questions arise in the wake of a comprehensive
new look at Jewish and non-Jewish freshmen. The survey,
conducted by Professor Linda Sax at UCLA.s
Higher Education Research Institute on behalf
of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus
Life, seems likely to renew the hand-wringing about
threats to continuity and identity.
The survey, which was conducted at 500 colleges,
found striking differences between those students with
two Jewish parents and those who had just one Jewish
parent, both in how they identified themselves Jewishly
and how frequently they went to religious services.
Predictably, the children of intermarriage were much less
likely to call themselves Jews (around two out of 10 versus
nine of 10 for those with two Jewish parents) and less
than half as likely to go to services even occasionally.


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Jews marrying non-Jews is not the ideal. When possi-
ble, we should strive to help the non-Jew convert; our
faith makes no distinction between a born Jew and a con-
verted Jew. Raising children Jewish should be a higher pri-
ority than trying to coax unwilling gentile parents to con-
vert, however. Children with a Jewish heritage, but who
are not Jewishly literate or involved, are unlikely to pass
Jewish beliefs and traditions on to the next generation.
We also need to remember that freshman year is a time
for growing up and exploring a new world of freedom,
often and happily far from home. (Interestingly, the study
found that Jewish students were more willing
than in earlier generations to attend colleges
500 or more miles away from their homes.)
Whether the students are Roman Catholic, Protestant,
Jewish or something else makes little difference in the cli-
mate of intellectual challenge that encourages re-examin-
ing all past certainties.
It is hardly remarkable that more than half of the stu-
dents with one or both parents Jewish would rather, as the
study reported, get involved with writing, painting or per-
forming. Jews have been doing all those things, with
remarkable success, for countless generations. It seems as
much a true marker of our culture as being regular syna-
gogue goers.





go off and people are killed. Our friends need to see
our active connection to the land we so love. And
our elected officials need to see us, once again,
standing with Israel in the face of adversity.
So shop at the Expo and, in so doing, give
Israel's economy a badly needed boost. ❑

Related story: page 31

To help bring spiritually lost students back to Judaism,
we prefer gentle encouragement to discouraging edict. We
all know of the teenagers whose formal religious involve-
ment seemed to end with their bar or bat mitzvah, but
who two decades later found themselves- joining congrega-
tions, becoming communally active and writing checks to
the federation campaign.
The really important news is not in the study's statistics,
but in the concerted effort that it denotes by Hillel to
understand what it must do to engage this generation of
college students in Jewish life. The organization says it
wants its 110 campus organizations to be "big tents" with
a variety of Jewish themes that it hopes will appeal to
attract a plurality of students with Jewish ties. For exam-
ple, if Jewish students want to talk about religion, as most
of them say they do, Hillel programs can relate the spiri-
tual influence of the Talmud on the Rev. Martin Luther
King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
By crafting programs that reach out to where students
are in their intellectual, social and moral development,
Hillel is doing its part on a broad scale to complement the
Jewish life that began in our homes. If we have done our
part, the campus is no threat to our faith. ❑

Related story: page 25

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