From the Four Corners of the Earth

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There’s a developing phenomenon out in the world, which in some ways parallels the “Baal Teshuvah movement” of Jews from non-religious backgrounds rediscovering their Jewish heritage. Groups that apparently have Jewish parentage — however far back — are similarly rediscovering Judaism and Jewish life, after centuries during which intermarriage should have caused total assimilation.

Michael Freund, an old friend from college (he holds a BA from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, otherwise known as “Woody Woo”), now runs an organization called Shavei Israel, which specializes in facilitating the re-introductions. Aliyah of the East Wind, from Hadassah Magazine, gives us an example of what they are doing. Shavei says that “our work is in complete accordance with Jewish Law and under the ongoing supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel.”

Michael is a Religious Zionist — he writes a political column in the Jerusalem Post, and has a blog at Arutz-7. During Netanyahu’s time he was Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister´s Office.

I find it interesting that you don’t see the “charedi” community involved in this sort of work. With Ethiopian Jews, the same was true — most of their religious training came through Religious Zionist institutions like Machon Meir, rather than Ohr Somayach, Aish HaTorah et al.

Is it because we are convinced that the Jewish connection is lost in those cases, and we should focus upon those millions of vadai (definite) Jews who need our help? Do we feel that outreach of this nature is inappropriate? Or is it just a matter of prioritizing our focus?

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