The Jewish Case for Domestic Adoption

Nov. 12 2018

Frequently, American couples wishing to adopt children look abroad, sometimes because they see children born in the U.S. as less desirable, sometimes out of ignorance of their options. Malka Groden, having adopted two American-born children, explains, in both ecumenical and Jewish terms, why more families should consider domestic adoptions and comments on her own experience of doing so as a member of the tightknit community of Chabad Ḥasidim in which she and her husband live. (Interview by Kathryn Jean Lopez.)

God tells the Jewish people repeatedly in [the book of] Isaiah that we’re meant to be a light unto the nations. We have an ability to transcend considerations of race and other dividing factors, because they should be of no consequence to us as Jews and more broadly as believers. Our adoption agency couldn’t fathom that [two] ḥasidic Jews from Brooklyn were one of their more [openminded] waiting families. I think as believers we’re uniquely armed for that role.

[Yet when it comes to adoption], there really hasn’t been much of an approach or vision in the Jewish community. Orthodox Jewish families have many biological children and simply don’t have the bandwidth to adopt or foster, so it hasn’t been part of our culture unless it’s emergency services within our own communities. . . . [W]hen I speak about adoption in the Jewish community, I am constantly asked about Jewish children, because we have an ethic of taking care of our own first. That just isn’t the landscape of adoption today. There aren’t many Jewish children waiting for homes. . . .

Another important factor to consider here is race and pushing ourselves beyond what we originally thought we would be comfortable with. Children being placed for adoption are disproportionately [members of racial] minorities. I struggled with the decision to open myself to a child of another race primarily because I feared what it would be like growing up in a predominantly white Jewish community, but the numbers our agency shared with us struck me. Out of 150 waiting families, only 30 were open to a child of another race. A family that is [unwilling to adopt] a child of another race can wait for eighteen months to two years to adopt. A family that’s open has an average waiting time of six months or less.

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More about: Adoption, Chabad, Family, Racism, Religion & Holidays

“Ending the War in Yemen” Would Lead to More Bloodshed and Threaten Global Trade

Dec. 13 2018

A bipartisan movement is afloat in Congress to end American support for the Saudi-led coalition currently fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. With frustration at Riyadh over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, reports of impending famine and a cholera outbreak in Yemen, and mounting casualties, Congress could go so far as to cut all funding for U.S. involvement in the war. But to do so would be a grave mistake, argues Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

Unfortunately, calls to “stop the Yemen war,” though morally satisfying, are fundamentally misguided. . . . A precipitous disengagement by the Saudi-led coalition . . . would have calamitous consequences for Yemen, the Middle East, and the world at large. The urgency to end the war reduces that conflict, and its drivers, to a morality play, with the coalition of Arab states cast as the bloodthirsty villain killing and starving Yemeni civilians. The assumption seems to be that if the coalition’s military operations are brought to a halt, all will be well in Yemen. . . .

[But] if the Saudi-led coalition were to cease operations, Iran’s long arm, the Houthis, would march on areas [previously controlled by the Yemeni government] and exact a bloody toll on the populations of such cities as Aden and Marib with the same ruthlessness with which they [treated] Sanaa and Taiz during the past three years. The rebels have ruled Sanaa, kidnapping, executing, disappearing, systematically torturing, and assassinating detractors. In Taiz, they fire mortars indiscriminately at the civilian population and snipers shoot at children to force residents into submission.

[Moreover], an abrupt termination of the war would leave Iran in control of Yemen [and] deal a serious blow to the global economy. Iran would have the ability to obstruct trade and oil flows from both the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb strait. . . . About 24 percent of the world’s petroleum and petroleum products passes through these two waterways, and Iran already has the capability to disrupt oil flows from Hormuz and threatened to do so this year. Should Iran acquire that capability in Bab el-Mandeb by establishing a foothold in the Gulf of Aden, even if it chose not to utilize this capability oil prices and insurance costs would surge.

Allowing Tehran to control two of the most strategic choke points for the global energy market is simply not an option for the international community. There is every reason to believe that Iran would launch attacks on maritime traffic. The Houthis have mounted multiple attacks on commercial and military vessels over the past several years, and Iran has supplied its Yemeni proxy with drone boats, conventional aerial drones, and ballistic missiles.

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More about: Iran, Oil, Politics & Current Affairs, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen