Isaac Herzog is the outgoing leader of the Israeli political “left,” the Zionist Camp coalition, and the new chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which seeks to strengthen bonds between Jews worldwide. In an interview on Israeli TV (for which David Sheen provided translation), he describes intermarriage between American Jews and non-Jews as a “plague” for which he seeks to find a “solution”.
“I’ll tell you a personal story. Last summer I traveled [with my wife] to the USA for a vacation. I graduated from a Jewish school in New York. And we went to meet friends. I have a ton of friends in the U.S.A. And I encountered something that I called an actual plague. I saw my friends’ children married or coupled with non-Jewish partners! And the parents beat their breasts and ask questions, and are suffering. Listen, it’s every [Jewish] family in the U.S.A.! And we are talking about millions. And I said there must be a campaign, a solution. We have to rack our brains to figure out how to solve this great challenge.
Herzog is an expert on love. He has warned that his party must not be seen as “Arab-lovers.”
The intermarriage rate among American Jews is 58 percent, but 71 percent among the non-Orthodox.
The young are making these choices voluntarily. Herzog’s breast-beating, suffering friends are surely in the more traditional, religiously-identified Jewish community. Herzog attended the Ramaz school in New York when his father served here as an Israeli diplomat. He went on to Cornell and NYU. Among less-strongly-identified U.S. Jews, there is wide acceptance of intermarriage, because Jews are mixing freely with non-Jews at schools and jobs, and in neighborhoods.
Herzog is a regular at J Street, the liberal Zionist pro-Israel lobby group; and
His anti-intermarriage stance is shared within the Zionist community: notably by Dennis Ross, former White House negotiator who co-chairs the Jewish People Policy Institute.
H/t Jonathan Ofir.