Millennials Mesmerize Us All

Michael Jacobs’ recent piece “Millennials Mesmerize Jewish Federations” (Editor’s Notebook, Nov. 17) really caught my attention. In it he writes, “There’s a sense of crisis involving millennials, based on the belief that they’re somehow more disaffected and disconnected from organized Judaism than previous generations.”

As a Jewish millennial, I hear these fears a lot: Why aren’t millennials joining more Jewish communities? As a millennial who works for an organization aimed at Jewish millennials, I know what it feels like to ask these same questions.

Yet, working for OneTable, a nonprofit that makes Shabbat dinner more accessible for millennials, has shown me a different side of this issue as well. After just three years in business, we’ve celebrated 100,000 seats at the table. That’s over 55,000 young adults choosing to spend their Friday nights engaged in Jewish community.

We opened up our Atlanta hub in January this year and already have 154 volunteers who have hosted 230 dinners for 2,830 seats at the table, with 23 more dinners planned so far this year. It has been amazing.

Shabbat dinner may not look like involvement the way it was talked about at the 2017 General Assembly, but it is a beautiful, important part of Jewish life — one that millennials are choosing to participate in and make their own.

One of our hosts, Steph K., wrote to us: “Shabbat dinner is a chance to slow down and recognize the moment. Time moves so fast now that, for me, it’s a moment to check in and reset for a new week. … OneTable feels like my Jewish community wants to support me on my terms. No pressure to fit into norms, just a desire to build community.”

Instead of asking millennials to fit the molds of the previous generations, maybe it’s time to invite more of us to the table. We’re good guests. We’ll contribute.

As Jacobs says at the end of his piece, “We must make it as easy as possible for all Jews to create their own forms of community.” That’s exactly what I believe my work is doing every single day for the Jewish millennial community in Atlanta.

Shira Hahn, Atlanta, OneTable Atlanta hub manager

What ‘Occupation’?

In your otherwise very thoughtful “Our View: Blame Game” (Dec. 1), you state, “One thing about Israel stands out from all those other nations, and it’s not ‘the occupation,’ as regrettable as that may be.” Hmm.

I wish to respectfully point out that what is regrettable regarding “the occupation” is the acceptance of this false and delegitimizing reference by so many Jews. There was never a sovereign state of Palestine governed by “Palestinians” at any time in history.

The League of Nations gave Britain a mandate over the area including Israel after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. The Ottoman Empire, which lasted for about 500 years, was centered in Turkey and advanced across southeastern Europe and the Middle East.

The only occupation involving Israel was the occupation of Israel by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Jews living in Judaea and Samaria (renamed “the West Bank” to manipulatively skew opinion against Israel) were driven out or killed, and their communities, homes and property were confiscated or destroyed.

Beit Ha’arava, Kalya, Atarot and Neve Ya’akov; kibbutzim Kfar Etzion, Ein Tzurim, Massu’ot Yitzhak and Revadim; the Jewish quarters of Hebron and the Old City of Jerusalem — these are among the communities that were eradicated by Arab invaders.

The territories in question may be disputed, but they are definitely not occupied. To accept that designation is to aid and abet those whose culture of hatred would do to all of Israel exactly what was done to Jewish communities of Samaria in 1948.

— Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Hotovely’s Truth Hurts

Dave Schechter has had it with insults from Israelis (“Enough With Israeli Insults of American Jews,” Dec. 1). Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated that most American Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan or Iraq.

While that statement caused multiple seizures in the American Jewish community, let’s analyze it for truth. The majority of Israeli Jews perform military service, while the majority of American Jews do not perform military service. I think even Schechter could accept this statement.

Hotovely did not say Jews never serve in the military or serve in the military in a lower proportion than their portion of the general population. Indeed, it is likely that Jews serve in the U.S. military in a proportion similar to their proportion of the population. It is this nuance that is not appreciated by either Schechter or the Daily Stormer.

Indeed, the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer relies extensively on comments from left-wing icons like The New York TimesThomas Friedman, who implied that the U.S. Congress is a Zionist-occupied government, and Haaretz. This helps the Daily Stormer editorial staff, which does not possess sufficient imagination.

I would submit that Israel has a very good understanding of the American Jewish community. What it sees is a large but weak community. It sees a community that did little for European Jews during the Holocaust.

It also sees a Jewish community that approved of the Iran deal, which provides a kashrut symbol for nuclear Iran, in significantly greater proportion than the general population. It sees a Jewish community that has a 71 percent intermarriage rate and a similar proportion of Jews who have never visited Israel nor plan to.

Finally, Schechter omitted a crucial detail about Hotovely’s visit to America. Shortly before her comments, she was disinvited by Rabbi Julie Roth of Princeton Hillel. Rabbi Roth made the decision without any pressure from Muslim students. She was forced to apologize by the national leadership of Hillel. Hotovely was able to give her speech at Chabad instead.

Among many American Jews, Israel itself is outside the “big tent” we are supposed to espouse. It would be difficult to imagine Rabbi Roth giving the same treatment to anti-Israel feminist icon Linda Sarsour, who likely would be welcomed by more Hillels than Hotovely would.

Israel sees a U.S. Jewish community nearing its expiration date and relies more on the common values of the United States and Israel than a relationship between a community that sees Israel as an uncouth distant relative with a foreign accent.

— Herbert Kaine, Berkeley, Calif.

Liberal Jews Hurt Israel

I am really tired and fed up with excuses from liberal Jews to as why they supported Barack Obama, a past president with his hatred and stand at the United Nations against Israel. Where was your voice then? How is it that you had no opinion or no voice when the Obama administration gave Iran billions of dollars — Iran, the No. 1 enemy of Israel, which wants to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.

Where was your voice when the Obama administration sent activists to Israel to press for the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Israeli elections?

American liberal Jews want to tell Israel, a democratic country, where and where not to build. Do you think you have the right because you send financial aid to Israel? Well, surprise, so do more conservative Jews.

The Democratic Party is not the same party as when I was growing up. The Democratic Party has become divisive, arrogant and just plain ugly.

The Republican Party has become a party of doing nothing, but now we have a president who leads the way for the Republicans or threatens them publicly. Independents like myself love and respond to this.

So, Dave Schechter, the next time you express some negativity about Israel or the Jews, let the reader know that you are labeled as a liberal Jew.

Joyce Schechter, Atlanta

Wonderful One Group

I have lived in Atlanta since 1952 and had never needed home health care before this year. I had depended on the recommendation of friends and used the services of a group that had treated others I know.

About two weeks ago, my daughter in Charleston put me in touch with the One Group, and they are absolutely fabulous! They operate through the services of the William Breman Jewish Home and offer private-duty, professional, registered nurses to provide one-on-one care in your home, assisted living community or nursing home.

When you have been active all your life (I’m 86), it is very difficult not to be able to take care of yourself. From the first time Bintu, E and Marie walked through the front door, I knew I was being taken care of by three beautiful ladies who care.

I am so surprised that I was not aware of the One Group’s existence, so I had to share this information with you. The telephone number is 404-751-2277, and the email address is onegroup@wbjhome.org.

I hope you will help spread the word about this wonderful service being offered in our community.

— Kitty Jacobs, Atlanta

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