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American Jewish Attachment to Israel: An Assessment of the “Distancing” Hypothesis

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Publication Date: February 2008

Publisher(s): Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies; Steinhardt Social Research Institute

Author(s): Theodore Sasson; Charles Kadushin; Leonard Saxe

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Religion and religious groups)

Keywords: Israel attachment; Diaspora Relations; Youth

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Widespread concern exists within the American Jewish community about declining American Jewish attachment to Israel. Concern has been fueled by social scientific analyses which, both conceptually and empirically, suggest declining attachment. The present paper examines these arguments, along with evidence from national surveys conducted over several decades, and critically assesses the emerging narrative about American Jewry’s growing distance from Israel. Substantial evidence exists that challenges this narrative and the development of programs such as Taglit-Birthright Israel, which brings large numbers of Diaspora young adults to Israel, suggests that just the opposite trend is underway.