This program surveys the state of contemporary Jewry throughout the world, focusing mainly on the Jews of Israel, the United States, and the Soviet Union.
After World War II in Europe many Jews were in Displaced Persons (DP) camps. Those who wished to emigrate to Palestine were prevented from doing so by British authorities. Still, some were able to emigrate illegally. Tiring of the strife between Arabs and Jews, Britain decided to end its mandate over Palestine and leave the country. After a tumultuous debate in the United Nations, the world body voted for the partition of the land into Jewish and Arab states.
The Jewish areas of Palestine had been laboriously improved by years of hard work. Swamps had been drained, stony areas reclaimed for agriculture, and desert land brought under cultivation. When the British left Palestine, the Jews declared all the areas they controlled to be the new independent state of Israel. Arab armies immediately attacked and the war for Israeli independence began. After the hostilities, Jews from many countries flocked to Israel to join in the building of the new Jewish state.
The six million Jews residing in the United States constituted the largest concentration of Jews in the world. These Jews, living in a free society, were able to integrate successfully into the American mainstream. This, however, was often at the expense of their Jewish identity. Intermarriage and assimilation threatened to undermine the Jewish community. However, as the TV interviews indicate, there has been a renaissance of Jewish identification among those who are pursuing new forms of Jewish communal and religious expression.
Some of the nearly three million Jews who live in the Soviet Union suffered persecution in the years immediately prior to Stalin's death. Some have requested to emigrate to Israel and a few have been allowed to leave. Public expressions of Judaism and Jewish peoplehood are frowned upon, causing hardship for many Jews. Those who wish to emigrate, but have not been granted permission, often endure constant harassment by the Soviet authorities.
The show ends with a wide-ranging discussion of the possibilities for Jewish identity and expression in the contemporary world. While answers are not provided, the eloquent opinions of a number of Jews are presented.
- Analyze the creation of the state of Israel.
- Explore the reaction of world Jewry, and especially American Jewry, to the rise of Israel.
- Examine the fate of the smaller Jewish communities around the world and the Jews of the Soviet orbit.
- Chart the major problems, challenges and opportunities facing Jews today.