Chabad’s Growing Role in American Judaism

One of the most important recent changes in American Jewish life has been the gradual mainstreaming of Chabad Hasidim. After years of reaching a constituency consisting mainly of college students, Israelis, those on the fringes of Jewish communal life, and Orthodox Jews living in remote places, Chabad is increasingly playing an important role in the lives of affiliated Jews other than the Orthodox. Shmuel Rosner writes:

[The majority of] Chabad participants in Miami are not “Israeli” or “Orthodox.” In other words: do not fall for the common prejudice about Chabad’s constituency. According to [a recent Miami survey], 25 percent of them are indeed Orthodox, but 32 percent are Conservative, and 19 percent are Reform (23 percent are “just Jewish”—more in line with common thinking). This means that more than half of the participants in Chabad activities come from a progressive Jewish background (you can add to that the 1-percent Reconstructionist). Think about it this way: a movement that is in many ways a part of the ultra-Orthodox world is able to attract Jews that are supposedly the archrivals of ultra-Orthodoxy. Of course, that is the genius of Chabad—without giving up on being ultra-Orthodox, it is able to convince other Jews that it is not really ultra-Orthodox.

Read more at Jewish Journal

More about: American Jewry, Chabad, Hasidism, Miami, Orthodoxy

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