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The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse
Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), April 2012
The claim that young American Jews are distancing themselves from Israel is rapidly becoming a major preoccupation of those in charge of cultivating the Jewish People. This paper shows that the claim of distancing is not supported by the data currently available and argues that the conversation about distancing, as such, defeats the very purpose of those who engage in it: to enhance the attachment of the American Jewish community to Israel.
The relationship between the two largest Jewish communities, Israel and North America, is complex. Both communities are undergoing a process of change, carrying both risks of genuine distancing in the future as well as opportunities for building new models of partnership between the two communities. But parsing the relationship between the two communities along a binary model of distance versus closeness fails to capture its complexity. Moreover, the distancing discourse tends to exacerbate negative trends and thus risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, there is a need to promote the long-term programs that would bring the world’s two largest Jewish communities even closer together.
This paper analyzes the conflicting hypotheses concerning distancing, identifies the weak links in the research to date, and surveys the different aims served by the distancing discourse. It then reviews the salient features of the changing relationship between the Jewish communities of Israel and North America and proposes guidelines in response to the new relationship pattern between them.
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Hakman, Inbal. Rosner, Shmuel. The Challenge of Peoplehood: Strengthening the Attachment of Young American Jews to Israel in the Time of the Distancing Discourse. Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI). April 2012: http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=13929
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