09 July 2019

"A Diaspora - Good as Bad - Consumes Its Jews"

6 Tamuz 5779

Excerpted from Diaspora Is Jewry's Graveyard (2009) by Rabbi Yehoshua Kemelman...

Two events of great significance to Jewish life occurred in 1848. The Russian Czar Nicholas I then issued the abominable decree to snatch Jewish children from their parents and raise them by priests, with the objective of recruiting them to the Russian army upon their reaching maturity.  Prussian emperor Franz Josef then bestowed the rank of aristocracy on several of his Jewish citizens.  It is recounted that when the two emperors met, the Russian Czar expressed criticism of the Austrian Emperor, stating:  "I am making efforts to destroy the Jews and you grant them freedom and equality, and yet exalt them with aristocratic titles?"  Franz Josef retorted:  "Know that I also aspire to destroy the Jews, however, you will yet see that my way is more effective than yours."

To our dismay, Franz Josef's malicious scheme has come to pass: under conditions of prosperity and full rights, Diaspora Jewry loses its generations and is stripped of its spiritual and cultural assets, more than it lost and was impoverished in pogroms, inquisitions, and forced conversion.   A horrific tragedy for Diaspora Jewry!  Not the severity of the situation, but the opposite - improvement of Jewish status in Diaspora lands and their equal rights threaten to corrupt spiritual life and detract from Jewish stature.  The dimension of equal rights and economic prosperity is as great as the threat to Jewish existence.
Among all the voices calling out to fight antisemitism, are there any at all calling for a fight against assimilation? Among Jews in the Diaspora today is the murder of millions of Jews somehow more palatable if it is self-inflicted?

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting history, and well-stated analysis.