May 31, 2003


The Incredible Shrinking People: The fact that there are so few Jews in the world places a great responsibility on the Jews that do exist. (Rabbi Berel Wein, Jewish World Review)
In 1950, according to the census of the Jewish Federations in North America at that time, the Jewish population of North America was approximately six million people. That meant that there were six million people in North America who identified themselves as Jews.

According to the natural increase in population as exhibited in the general population in North America there should now be at least fifteen million people in North America who identify themselves as Jews.

In stark reality, however, there are barely five million people in North America who do so.

That means that there are ten million people--potential Jews--who have disappeared in the last half-century, and their absence is out of personal choice and not external enmity. That statistic is certainly one of the saddest ones for Jews in this doleful past century.

Sixty years ago, there were nineteen million Jews in the world. Today, there are approximately thirteen million Jews in the world. A half-century after the Holocaust, we have not replenished the numbers that the Germans and their cohorts extinguished. This ugly and sad fact only intensifies the tragedy of the Holocaust in the current Jewish world.

It would be a world historical tragedy if all Jews were to take away from these numbers is the lesson that Rabbi Wein seems to be teaching--that the shrinking few realize how special they are. The end point such a teaching is fairly obvious: the fewer there are the more special each is, until the point when the last one left is the most special of all. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter the Jews, who brought us Judaism--the single most important set of ideas in human history--will pass from existence. On that day, in the all too imaginable future, the world will be a colder, darker place and we will all be diminished as a species.

This end should therefore be intolerable to us all, but must obviously be most intolerable to Jews themselves. This is no time to turn inward, to gaze at your navel and say how special you are, but a time to turn outward, to renew the people, to strengthen belief, to be fruitful and multiply, to rage against the dying of the children of the light. Posted by Orrin Judd at May 31, 2003 9:49 PM
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