The group Masa (the word is Hebrew for “Journey”), which runs study-in-Israel programs for Diaspora Jews, has a new ad running on Israeli TV urging viewers to tell non-Israeli Jews about their organization. If these benighted souls do not visit Israel, you see, they may be “lost” and “assimilated” and perhaps, the ad ever-so-subtly hints, sent somewhere ominous on trains. You can watch it below:
The Forward’s J.J. Goldberg translates the Hebrew as: “More than 50% of young Jews overseas are assimilating and we are losing them. Do you know a young Jew overseas? Call Project Masa, and together we will strengthen the tie to Israel so we won’t lose him. Masa—a year in Israel, a love for a lifetime.” Goldberg hypothesizes—no doubt correctly—that “assimilating” is code for intermarrying, and that the 50 percent figure comes from an infamous 1990 study finding such a rate (later proved to be inflated). And he sensibly observes, “From a practical point of view, the issue in America is no longer how to fight intermarriage. That horse is out of the barn. The question now is how to draw the new Jews to Judaism.”
On top of the ad’s practical idiocy, there is its odious message: that Jews who do not find Israel have disappeared altogether. The spot recalls nothing so much as the old Catholic doctrine (which the Church, to its credit, has repudiated) that good Christians have an obligation to try to convert Jews as an act of mercy. Did we mention that Masa gets half of its budget from the Israeli government?
‘Lost’ In Plain Sight [J.J. Goldberg]