The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) came out Wednesday in defense of Israel’s Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz after he was attacked for describing assimilation and intermarriage in the American Jewish community as being “like a second Holocaust.”
Liberal Jewish leaders professed outrage, calling it “contempt” for the Holocaust, or even “Holocaust denial.”
“Rabbi Peretz did not fabricate the statistics,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, president of the CJV. “The Holocaust was a horrific physical destruction of our people, while intermarriage and assimilation are causing a spiritual destruction, a loss of Jewish continuity for countless families. They are by no means the same, but both extinguish the Jewish future – and repeated studies of the American Jewish community bear this out.”
The CJV noted that Orthodox leaders have used the term “second Holocaust” since the 1990s, after data from the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey appeared to foretell the demise of North American Jewry.
It also observed that use of the term “second Holocaust” was understood as “an expression of sincere concern, rather than cause for controversy — a generation ago, when far more survivors were still among the living.”
“While superficial Holocaust comparisons are wholly inappropriate,” said CJV managing director Rabbi Yaakov Menken, “this is a measured statement of real concern that in no way trivializes the Nazi horrors of 75 years ago. But American Jewish leaders have acquiesced to the spiraling intermarriage rate, with some now tolerating it even among liberal clergy. They object to Rabbi Peretz’s comparison not because it is inaccurate, but because he articulated a painful truth from which they prefer to hide.”
Rabbi Peretz’s comment was made during a behind-closed-doors meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on July 1 at which the ministers were presented with the annual report of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) on Jewish communities around the world, particularly in North America.
A spokesman for Rabbi Peretz confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he made the remarks, which were not publicized at the time.