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

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela