A Message For Jews
IDF army sergeant urges diaspora Jews to visit Israel
and stay connected with Israelis.
ov Rozenberg doesn't work
for the Israeli tourism
office and he isn't in public
relations. He's just a grunt
soldier in the Israel Defense Forces
with a message for diaspora Jews —
stay connected to Israel.
Frustrated by what South African
classmates at his Petach Tikvah yeshiv-
ah had been told back home about the
danger of traveling in Israel, Rozenberg,
21, wrote his thoughts on paper.
"They felt that to walk around
Israel, you must be either crazy or own
a helmet," he wrote. After a month,
those students began to understand
the situation in Israel. "They under-
stood that there is a problem, but that
hiding is not the solution.," he wrote.
Rozenberg, an army sergeant, shared
his written statement and other
thoughts with. the Jewish News while
visiting over Chanukah with his
grandparents, Shirley and David
Rozenberg, and uncle, Mark
Rozenberg, all of West Bloomfield.
The young man's concerns center
around three central ideas that he
wants to convey to Jews living here:
• Israelis do not live under siege.
• The Israel Defense Forces operate
morally and with Jewish values.
• Israelis need to have a close con-
nection with Jews in America and
around the world.
"The situation in Israel is viewed as
if there's a war going on," he said. "If
you watch the news, you get the
impression tanks are in the streets all
the time, bodies are lying around.
That is far from the situation. We
don't 'survive' in Israel — we live."
Israelis live a very happy life tem-
pered by memories of those families
and friends who were affected by the
violence, Rozenberg said.
Tourists are slowly starting to come
back, he said, but he,wishes there were
more Jewish tourists. Reports of fun-
damentalist Christians taking their
place leave him sad, although he says
he welcomes both kinds of visitors.
Rozenberg grew up in Skokie, Ill., and
lives," he said.
his family made aliyah when he was 8.
There are remote cases of individu-
After high school, he entered a five-
als acting wrongly toward other indi-
year military program combining
viduals, and the army fights to prevent
army and school together.
it as well as possible, he said.
"Any time there is a crisis, the army
Sharing some thoughts on the same
calls you back," he said.
Chanukah visit was Dov's brother,
Tulkarem. The Lebanese border.
Hebron. Jenin. As a sergeant in the
Udi, 23, also an Orthodox Jew and an
Golani, an infantry unit, Rozenberg's
military resume reads like a map of
Although portrayed negatively in
the world press, he considers the
IDF to be highly moral.
He believes Israel has the only
army in the world where "every sol-
dier is obliged to refuse an order
given to him if it is illegal or pur-
The IDF also uses extreme care
around Palestinian civilians,
"Once, at a roadblock near
Hebron, we were shot at from a dis-
"It's all business," he said. "You have
tance," he said. "We were in pursuit,
shooting at them and running. The
to be professional in order not to com-
officers who joined the pursuit ordered promise the people you're trying to pro-
us not to shoot if there was any danger tect. On the other hand, you don't want
to humiliate or embarrass or offend the
of hitting the abandoned homes near-
people you're trying to search."
by, because there was a chance that
Although he's had a few good conver-
civilians were taking cover there.
sations with Palestinians in the West
"This is a normal order that comes
across every day — being as careful as
Bank, Udi Rozenberg also had a run-in
with some others. He was passing out
possible without endangering civilian
Jewish Agency institute struggles with bleak
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
onfronted with statistics
indicating that world Jewry
is shrinking, Israeli officials
are unsure how to respond.
"We have no blueprint of what to
do," the chairman of the Jewish
Agency for Israel, Sallai Meridor, said
at an emergency session of the Jewish
Agency's Institute for Jewish People
Policy Planning. "We need policies
that will carry out a strategy."
According to the institute's statis-
tics, world Jewry is losing an average
of 50,000 Jews per year — or 150
Jews every day. There are now 12.9
million Jews in the world, according
to the institute's statistics, down
from earlier estimates that put the
total at 13.2 million.
According to the institute, which
convened the three-day emergency ses-
sion last week to address what it called
the "demographic crisis" of world
Jewry, the number of American Jews
lollipops to young children in a West
Bank school his unit was searching.
They found anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli
literature, but he continued to hand out
the candy. Older children told the
younger ones to keep away from him.
"I could see the hate in their eyes, and
I couldn't stop thinking why did these
people hate me so much," he said.
Even though there are huge political
disagreements and the economic situa-
tion is terrible in Israel, "there's a feel-
ing of unity in Israel," Dov'Rozenberg
said. "Everyone still has one major
goal, which is living in Israel in peace
People in Israel feel detached from
the rest of the world, he said. Israelis
need to see more overt signs of connec-
tion, like sending mail to the soldiers.
The Kenya bombings are just one
example of the need for Jews to stay con-
nected throughout the world, he added.
The bombing happened "because they
were Jews — not just Israelis," he said.
"It shows how much we need to stay -
close and patch up that gap between us
and be there one for another."'
In his written statement, Rozenberg
said: "I honestly believe that the most
important thing right now, both for us
in Israel and for the Jews in America,
is to keep a strong connection."
"We must understand that we are
one nation and work accordingly so
that people in Israel can once again
feel the full support of Jews around
the world, and so that the Jews of
America will identify with their nation
and the land of Israel." O.
dropped by 300,000 in the last decade
to 5:2 million, according to the
National Jewish Population Survey
2000-01. Other major Jewish commu-
nities around the world also declined.
Only Israel's Jewish community is
growing, the institute said.
Meridor called the declines
appalling," saying the figures repre-
sented "a point of no return." France,
for example, has seen its Jewish com-
munity decline to 500,000 from
535,000 in 1980.
In the former Soviet Union, the
total has plummeted to 437,000 from_
1.45 million — though much of that
is due to the 1 million Jews who left
the former Soviet Union for Israel in
the past decade.
The figures may not be universally
accepted, however. For example,
NUMBERS SHRINK on page 24