When the Lord Brought Back the Captivity of Zion… (Psalm 126)

A recent survey reports on Israel’s connection with the Jewish diaspora

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: diaspora
Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The last 100 years have seen the transition and prophetic restoration of world-wide Jewish population and activities to Israel. The Holocaust literally choked to death the center of Ashkenazi Judaism which had been in Eastern Europe, and many survivors came to Israel. Then in the first decade or so of the State of Israel, huge waves of Aliyah from Middle Eastern/Sephardic Jewish communities effectively transferred those centers of Jewish life to Israel. Now Israel lives in a delicate balance with the remaining Jewish diaspora communities, the largest of which is in the United States.

Only about half of the Jews in Israel think that the State of Israel is responsible for taking care of Diaspora Jewry, even though they do not learn about the Diaspora. And only 40% of American Jews do not attach importance to Israel in their Jewish identity. These conclusions emerge from a new survey published by the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The survey paints a bleak picture regarding the knowledge and education of Israelis about American Jewry, and of American Jewry about Israel. Over a third of American Jewish respondents erred in answering basic questions about Israel, and over half of Israelis erred in answering basic questions about American Jewry.

Former Minister of Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich under a map of world Jewry

The annual survey of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) this year focused on the education for both sides, in Israel and among United States Jews. The survey found that about 69% of Israeli respondents felt they had not learned enough about Diaspora Jewry, and over 77% of Israelis were interested to learn more. About a third of Jews in Israel testified that they had not studied Diaspora Jewry at all. In the United States, 40% of Jews say the Jewish education they received on Israel was weak or non-existent.

This situation was also reflected in a series of questions regarding basic information about each other’s history. About 51% of American Jews did not know David Ben-Gurion was the first Israeli prime minister, and about 61% of Israelis did not know the significance of the Reform Jewish movement in the United States.

Along with this bleak picture, a positive point also emerged: about 81% of American Jews defined their family’s attitude toward Israel as pro-Israel, and over 74% of Israeli Jews saw the success of Diaspora Jewry as vital to the future of the Jewish people.

The survey of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in the United States was conducted by SSRS between March 25 and May 9, 2021, among a representative sample of 1,000 American Jewish respondents aged 18 and over. The margin of error was ± 4.5%. The U.S. survey was conducted by telephone.

The survey in Israel was conducted by the Geocartography Company in the last week of April 2021, among a representative sample of 1,000 Israeli Jewish respondents aged 18 and over. The margin of error was ± 3%. The survey was conducted online among 750 respondents and by telephone among 250 respondents from the ultra-Orthodox sector and those aged 70 and over.

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