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Israelis Want to Know: What are American Jews Like?

One of the issues of concern to those in the Jewish world of late, has been the growing divide between Jews in Israel and Jews in America. There are about 6.5 million Jews in Israel and 5.3 million Jews in the US – as such these represent the two largest Jewish communities in the world. American Jews are predominantly secular, tend to intermarry, disaffiliate and vote Democrat. Israeli Jews are lead by a right wing government whose leader is practically a bought and paid for asset of the Republican party. In Israel, Trump is uniquely popular and all indications are that the next government will be even more right wing than the last. And yet, the relationship between these two communities remains almost symbiotic. American Jews channel great influence on behalf of Israel, and Israel represents the most dynamic element of Jewish evolution. Or something.

The point is that despite Birthright Israel trips and a large presence of Israelis in the US and American Jews in Israel, the fact remain that this gaping chasm exists, particularly in Israel, because Israelis don’t really know what American Jews are all about.

To help bridge this gap, Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation sent Oriel Danielson to see what the confluence of American, and Jewish, looks like. And what does it look like? A Jewish Kosher Barbecue professional, a Jewish Bluegrass band, a Jewish Motorcycle gang… and more in a 5-part series that is sure to inform and entertain. The episodes I’ve seen so far are a hoot and hopefully Kan will see fit to send Danielson in search of more American Jews:

“I’m curious about more American pop culture and how young Jewish people in America who are not religious practice and keep their Jewish identity … That’s the next step.”

That’s definitely something I’d love to see!

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ck

Publisher at Jewlicious
Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.
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3 Comments

  1. A.F. Kaplan

    4/2/2019 at 9:08 pm

    What is the underlying cause of the divide between American and Israeli Jews (besides the obvious geographical one)? The hold that the Orthodox have over the Israeli government and its monopoly within Israel when it comes to determining who is Jewish and who is not.

    The Orthodox are present in the U.S., certainly, but they do not dominate Jewish life here as they do in Israel. Here in the U.S., the Reformed movement is far more numerous and prominent.

    • ck

      4/3/2019 at 2:04 pm

      But then what element of the Jewish community in the US is the most dynamic? Reform and Conservative affiliations are diminishing. Orthodox numbers are all up and growing. American Jews need to make the case for a more secular, less traditional form of Judaism, that is more compelling. Or something.

      • A.F. Kaplan

        4/5/2019 at 10:00 pm

        There is also the U.S. Constitution’s Separation of Church and State. This is another factor that prevents the Orthodox in the U.S. from dominating Jewish life in the U.S. the way it does in Israel.

        For all intents and purposes, the Israeli government under Netanyahu is owned by the Orthodox lock, stock, and barrel. The line between synagogue and state has become severely blurred to say the very least.

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