Publication Date: January 2000
Publisher: G. Routledge & Co.
Author(s): Erik H. Cohen
Research Area: Culture and religion; Education
Keywords: World Jews; Israel experience
“Mifgashim” – structured meetings between Diaspora participants of Israel Experience programs and Israeli youth – are organized to strengthen ties between the two populations. Two basic models of Mifgashim are offered, one emphasizing cognitive and the other affective means of achieving the same goal. The cognitive-based model had a slightly stronger impact, especially on the Israeli participants. Nonetheless, both fall somewhat short of their potential in impact and satisfaction. We believe that the types of activities within the Mifgashim programs are not the source of the encounter’s shortfalls. Rather, the difficulties include the brief time allotted, language barriers, and group functioning, in particular adolescent group dynamics. Perhaps the most fundamental problem is a wide-spread perception that the Mifgashim are conducted primarily for the benefit of the Diaspora youth. The objectification of the Israeli participants by program planners can be seen as reflecting attitudes in the larger field of Israeli-American relations.