Jewish Journal

Are Jewish Youth Lost?

by Orit Arfa

September 11, 2009 | 7:59 am

I was interviewed yesterday on an Israeli late night news talk show, “M’Hayom L’Machar” (From Today to Tomorrow), as one of the bloggers participating in the Second Annual Jewish Convention taking place this Sunday. They asked me what I thought of this controversial Israeli commercial meant to reel in assimilated Jews through a year abroad program in Israel. Watch the video below; the narration goes like this:

More than fifty percent of Jewish youth abroad assimilate and get lost to us. Do you know a Jewish youth abroad? Call Project Masa and together we’ll strengthen they’re connection to Israel: A year in Israel; a lifetime of love.

I think this commercial is very sad—and not necessarily because of its statistics. It’s exactly the reason why Jewish youth assimilate: too much Jewish guilt. This commercial only piles it on. It may work for concerned Jewish parents, but not for the youth. For Jewish youth to stay in the fold, they need to know fun and enriching a connection to Jewish life can be, not how overbearing it can get.

An even better “Lost” campaign, perhaps, would be to compare Israel to the television show of the same name and invite Jewish youth to partake in the experiment of Jewish survival, with all the drama, intrigue, and attractive people that we find on this little Jewish “island.”


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