Everyone's favorite scare tactic is back - send a kid on a several-months long program to Israel, or s/he'll probably end up intermarried, or in the words of this ad, "Lost." This comes to you courtesy of the Prime MInister's Office, the Jewish Agency and Masa, which hooks people up with longer-term programs in Israel than a 10-day Taglit-Birthright Israel trip provides.
But what's interesting - and perhaps new in the history of this particular scare tactic, which has been so successful in the US - is that this ad (embedded above thanks to the code I cribbed from the embed over at Jewschool) is in Hebrew, designed to appeal to Israelis' sense of "what is right," and essentially saying, "if you know an American kid, now's your chance to save him or her from intermarriage."
In Ha'aretz, the head of this aggressive campaign, Motti Scharf, said: "Even though this is an existential problem, the public in Israel is displaying apathy towards it because the process is slow and not dramatic, out of sight," he said. "The time has come to put the issue on the table."(Full article in Ha'aretz is here.)
As a longtime believer in the power of Israel programs to create positive connections to Jewish life and identity, I have seen transformations in friends who have gone on longer-term Israel programs. But I have to tell you, that as an American citizen and - up until almost a year ago - a longtime New Yorker, I can't look at those "missing" flyers without thinking of 9/11 - those flyers, hanging in many locations all over Manhattan and beyond, were at once symbols of hope that someone who was missing was "only missing," and a denial of the reality that most of the missing were actually dead. Invoking that image to refer to people who are not dead, but presumed "lost to Judaism" because they "married out," seems somewhat inappropriate.
This isn't Anatevka, people. If your daughter runs off with a Perchik, or even a Fyedka, don't cut them out. If people are treated as if they're lost to Judaism, they will be lost to Judaism.
You can still send them on a trip to Israel, though.
(via Religion and State)
UPDATE: Others writing about this ad campaign...
"Lost" in America: Analysis (Haviv Rettig Gur, Jerusalem Post)
"Lost" in plain sight: An Israeli plan to rescue American Jews (J.J. Goldberg, the Forward)
Masa's utterly counter-productive ad campaign (Rosner's Domain, Jerusalem Post)
A stupid, ill-conceived approach from Israel (Interfaith Family Network blog)
Ad campaign in Israel Seeks to Prevent Intermarriage (Rabbi Laura Baum, at OurJewishCommunity.org)
Masa TV Commercial: Intermarried Jews are Lost (Ben Murane/KungFuJew at Jewschool)