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Are American and Israeli Jews Drifting Apart

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Publication Date: January 1989

Publisher(s): Institute on American Jewish-Israeli Relations; American Jewish Committee

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Banking and finance (Philanthropy and nonprofit sector)
Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: American Jews; Israeli Jews; Diaspora relations

Type: Report

Coverage: United States Israel


This article relates recent challenges to relations between American and Israeli Jews, especially rightward political and religious trends. It presents data from surveys showing that those most disturbed are politically liberal, religiously less traditional, relatively remote from organized Jewish life, and highly educated.

Nevertheless, there is no broad trend of either alienation or intensified support, with each survey showing about a third of American Jews are relatively indifferent or hostile, a third claim to feel a strong commitment without signs of active involvement, and another third are passionately attached and actively involved. Nevertheless, trends in Jewish philanthropy show a dip in money sent to Israel; and there is increased disinterest and enthusiasm among lay Jews for working on issues of Israeli security. Possible explanations – including current events, a normal diminishment of an unsustainable post Six-Day War enthusiasm, grown schisms between Israeli and North American Jewish religiosity, are explored. The author concludes that policy makers and educators must confront these challenges.