By Uri Farber
When I woke up Monday February 3rd, I didn’t expect to spend my day feeling hopeless. I didn’t expect to write more in my notebook for one speaker than all of the previous speakers combined. I didn’t expect to be in shock. Around 10AM, we arrived at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv to hear from Dr. David Passig, a professor of Future Studies there. Dr. Passig’s job is to use statistics, history trends, and probabilities, to calculate what he believes the potential future to be. Though his predictions covered events spanning the globe, he spoke to us mostly on the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Before I outline his predictions, it is important for me to note that I do not know the methodologies he uses to arrive at these conclusions and to me, a complete and total amateur at predicting the future who would argue that given the irrationality of human behavior it is inherently unpredictable and therefore any attempt to do so is at best gambling, these are nothing more than guesses. He argued that the Jewish future in America is minimal while Israel’s Jewish population will double by 2050 and triple by 2100 with the American Jewish population falling from 6 million to 1 million in that time frame. For someone who wants to work in the American Jewish world, which is highly different from the Israeli one, this can be troubling news. What community will exist here for us to work in in 30 years, or will we be left jobless with non-transferable skills just as our kids are going to college? But then I thought some more about the reality he predicted. We, as future Jewish leaders, are going to have an effect on that reality. We, as Nachshon fellows, are going to be equipped to create, strengthen, and preserve Jewish communities in the US, which are going to be the skills needed in America for the coming century.