We are all working against time, both as a people and as individuals.
There are two reasons for this.
The first is the demographic situation of the Jewish people in general, and of the Jews in Russia in particular.
This situation is simply catastrophic.
Formal data about the CIS indicate that for every 10 Jews who pass away, only one Jew is born.
In other words: there is no need to send anyone to kill the Jews; we are eliminating ourselves.
This phenomenon is partially the result of the fact that the remaining Jewish population is largely comprised of old, single people, and it also has to do with the general atmosphere in Russia.
Whenever a child is born, it is as if a statement is made: "I believe in the future!"
When people do not believe there is a future, children cease to be born.
This is just the simple physical aspect of the issue.
The second reason is the issue of Jewish identity.
Most of the people who belong to the Jewish people ethnically–even those whose last name is Shapiro, Rabinowitz or Zalmanson–belong only ethnically; as living people with a national or individual self-definition, they do not belong.
It really does not matter if your grandfather was a rabbi or your great-grandfather was a tzaddik.
Someone once called this "the potato culture"; meaning that the best part is buried in the earth, whereas what's above the surface isn't worth much.
When the best thing one can say about a nation is that its citizens are like potato leaves, then that nation is not a living thing.
Yet all is not lost, since one can see a broader, clearer picture from the outside.
But at any rate, the conclusion is that in a situation like this, whoever is "inside," at the core; must work 10 or 15 times harder in order to achieve something.
In plague-stricken places, one who has recovered must take care of an entire city.
In a city of the blind, a person with one eye is king.
This is a very heavy responsibility.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From "One Step Forward" a talk give by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in Kherson. Ukraine, 14 March 1997