Hype Over Controversial Israeli Ads Bypasses N.Y.'s ultra-Orthodox Jews

Rabbis and businessmen in N.Y.’s ultra-Orthodox community say ads to return expatriate Israelis didn’t reinvent the wheel: Assimilation has been a well-known problem for many years.

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The hype generated by the Israeli ads to bring back expatriate Israelis passed over New York’s ultra-Orthox community.

Few members of the community read The Atlantic magazine nor have they heard of Jeffrey Goldberg, who ignited the controversy over the Immigrant and Absorption Ministry ad campaign, which he said defame America’s Jewish community.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the U.S.Credit: Reuters

But when rabbis and ultra-Orthodox businessmen were told about the ads and the media hype, their reaction was unified: We have been well aware for many years of the assimilation plague that has been spreading among Jews in American and we have no need for someone in Jerusalem to warn us about it.

Our answer to assimilation is expanding religious education and the teachings of the Torah and not, in fact, immigration to Israel, said a well-known Brooklyn rabbi.

Ultra-Orthodox businessmen, who requested to remain anonymous, said “aliya” (immigration to Israel) is not a remedy that will solve the assimilation of American Jews, especially not among young couples. They said the scope of emigration from America has been limited for many years already, saying warnings that the son or daughter of an Israeli living in America will call their father “Daddy” or will request a Christmas Tree beside the hanukkiah (Hanukkah lamp) will not lead to an increase in the number of immigrants to Israel from America.

Over the past few years young religious couples from American have woken up to the aliya efforts of the organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. However, the Brooklyn businessmen said, they are not immigrating to Israel over concerns for the future of their descendents, rather out of ideological motivations, and many of them move to the settlements.