According to legend, it was John Foster Dulles, secretary of state under President Eisenhower and not known as a friend of Israel, who is most responsible for the creation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which celebrated “five decades of leadership and achievement” with a gala dinner attended by 1,200 people at the Waldorf Astoria last week.
It was a testimony to the influence and longevity of the life of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that the health updates on an ailing rabbinic leader were headline news in Israeli newspapers and broadcasts in recent weeks. Outside of haredi, or ultra-Orthodox circles, in which Rabbi Yosef played a prominent role for more than a half century, most Israelis have little interest in aging rabbis.
The results are in on American Jewish identity, and they tell us what we should have sensed by now: that particularly among the young, an increasing number are moving away from formal expressions of Judaism, marrying out, and not raising children as Jews.
Israeli and mainstream American Jewish leaders are deeply concerned, whether they say it publicly or not, that President Obama is being snookered by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s charm offensive. And the stakes could not be higher.