What Canadian Jewry Gets Right

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, Canada’s Jews intermarry at approximately half the rate of their U.S. counterparts, but are twice as likely to belong to synagogues. Ari Blaff comments:

American Jews are half as likely to attend community day school, yeshiva, overnight summer camp, and Sunday or Hebrew school as Canadian Jews. While participation rates at communal institutions have dwindled among non-Orthodox American Jews, the same has not been true for Reform and Conservative Jews in Canada. Accordingly, while American and Canadian Jewish youth exhibit similar bar- and bat-mitzvah levels (50 percent to 60 percent, respectively), . . . Canadians are significantly more active in their religious communities. . . . Similar results are seen when it comes to Israel between the two communities: “American Jews have a much weaker connection to Israel than do Canadian Jews,” the report states.

[In an effort to explain the last trend, the survey’s] authors point to Zionism’s contentious reception among American Jews in the 20th century, particularly in the Reform movement where Jewish self-determination was seen to be in conflict with American patriotism. In Canada, by comparison, British efforts to accommodate French-speaking elements fostered the growth of ethnic institutions within the country. . . .

It’s not all bad news for American Jews, [however]. American Jewish leaders may not be able to replicate Canadian cultural attitudes . . . within their own communities, but they can certainly draw lessons from the distinctive experiences of their northern neighbors.

Above all, Braff concludes, Canadian Jews’ preference for marrying other Jews may be the foremost reason for the other positive data.

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Canadian Jewry, Intermarriage, Synagogues

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy