THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE RIGHTS OF MIXED FAMILIES (IN ISRAEL) (AMF) – 1999-2012
The Association for the Rights of Mixed Families (AMF) (in Israel) has lost its funding and been disbanded.
The AMF of Israel was the Half-Jewish Network’s closest organizational “buddy” in Israel. Under the guidance of their admirable and committed leader, Dr. Ludmilla Oigenblick, the organization fought tenaciously for the rights of Israeli half-Jewish people for many years against laws and social policies that have made them second-class citizens.
AMF had a special mission to the thousands of half-Jewish Russian adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage. They did research on them, provided counseling on how to navigate the obstructive Israeli bureaucracy and Orthodox rabbinate, and advocated for them with Israeli government agencies.
Here’s an example of the valuable research AMF did on the problems of half-Jewish people living in Israel, a paper (translated into English), “Problems of Mixed Families in Israel”:
We frequently interacted with Professor Oigenblick and one of her assistants, Yona Triestman. They were always friendly and helpful. They posted information about the Half-Jewish Network on their website.
The organizations that had been funding the AMF were the Israeli Ministry of Absorption and the New Israel Fund. We do not know why they withdrew the financial support of the AMF. We also gather that the Reform movement in Israel and the United States refused to help the AMF.
We think these organizations made a serious mistake in defunding the AMF.
If you visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine:
and then input:
and then click on “March 21, 2012″ — it will be shown on a calendar — you can see the AMF website before it was taken down.
There are other organizations in Israel that sometimes work on half-Jewish Israelis’ issues, but these organizations also have other priorities, and Israeli half-Jewish people are only of many of their constituencies. They cannot really take over the AMF’s work.
The Half-Jewish Network will continue to monitor and advocate for the half-Jewish people of Israel, including the adult children of Jewish/Arab intermarriages, but we are not an Israel-based organization and will feel the loss of the AMF very much.
Thanks again to Dr. Oigenblick, Yona Triestman and their co-workers for all of their efforts for half-Jewish people in Israel!
See below for information about the AMF’s work during the years that they were in existence between 1999 – 2012. The language is taken from a statement they sent us during that period.
AMF OF ISRAEL STATEMENT
The AMF was founded in 1999 as an Israeli grassroots organization to empower, legitimize and assist intermarried families to integrate into Israeli society. The AMF believed that the state of Israel should take the lead in accepting interfaith families as integral members of the Jewish community worldwide.
The AMF also believed that the solution to the alienation crisis with Israel and to assimilation in the Diaspora (Jewish communities outside of Israel) is to welcome interfaith families.
The AMF focused on assisting the members of Russian intermarried families who have made aliyah to Israel. Four generations of Soviet tyranny left the overwhelming majority of FSU (former Soviet Union) Jews secular and intermarried; over 1/3 of Russian immigrants to Israel are not considered Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish and Israeli state law.
Most of these intermarried couples and their adult children and grandchildren identify as Jewish and want to integrate into mainstream Israeli society, but cultural and social differences have produced widespread alienation and social problems.
Unemployment among immigrants is double (11%) the national average of veteran Israelis. Thirty-six percent of immigrant youth drop out of school, resulting in crime and anti-social behavior.
Yet even though these immigrants feel marginalized, they are hopeful and motivated, with only 10% expressing regret for coming to Israel.
AMF believed that the state of Israel should set the trend in accepting interfaith families as integral members of universal Judaism. Although the Israeli government provides financial assistance to interfaith immigrants, it makes it clear that their legal status as citizens is tenuous vis-a-vis the Orthodox rabbinate and the government’s Interior Ministry.
The AMF worked on a variety of projects which directly helped members of interfaith families, including their adult children and grandchildren, as follows:
1. Operated community and school-based projects to facilitate integration into Israeli society;
2. Provided consultation services and intervention where rights of interfaith families had been violated; and
3. Promoted public policy and raised public awareness in Israel on behalf of interfaith families.
The AMF wanted to create a “U.S. Friends of the AMF” organization, but that did not occur.