Some of the people who get my letters forward them to others. Some of those recipients have written to me, and have found their way to my list.
Today I received a note from a friend of a friend of a friend, i.e., who got to me via a friend of his, who is a friend of an original member of my list (I think).
The substance of the letter was that few of his local Jewish contacts are interested in Israel. An effort to establish a group concerned about Israel in his congregation of about 450 adults produced a group of six, four of whom were originally Israelis or married to Israelis.
As far as I know, the phenomenon of disinterest is widespread among American Jews.
Is this an occasion for oy gavalt! or a reason to say a shechianu? To translate: to scream our anxiety, or to thank God for bringing American Jews to the point of normalhood, shared by overseas Irish, Italians, Poles et al, separated by generations from their roots and only remotely identified ethnically?
Orthodox American Jews tend to be more highly identified with Israel, and more concerned with its problems. (They are also more likely than other American Jews to vote Republican and to support George W. Bush.) French and British Jews tend to identify more than Americans. That may be due to their greater likelihood of being Orthodox, and/or being in the focus of local Muslims and others less enamored of Israel than the average American.
For the man who wrote me the letter about the lack of interest in Israel, and others who feel concerned, there is a Zionist solution. The planes are still flying. A bit of googling will turn up the details of an Israeli emissary who will help with the paperwork.
A number of commentators have pondered the fate of the Jewish people. Perhaps the first was whoever contributed that line in Genesis that God's people"will be strangers in a country not their own." A common theme in recent writing is that the Jews will disappear when they no longer have to defend themselves against antagonism.
By this recipe, the way to create a Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan is to embrace peace. Then individual Israeli Jews, like their American cousins before them, will gradually or quickly go the way of others, concerned more about the good life than the nation of Israel.
If that is on the horizon, it is too far away for me to see it from here.
For those worried about the fate of the Jewish people, there is the story of my best friend (i.e., me). The lad came from an anti-Zionist household, and was expelled from Sunday school a year short of graduation on account of not taking the curriculum seriously.
It has been almost 32 years since the fateful plane ride. Most of the time has been good. I always hope for better.