Moving between Israel and America: Future Jewish Leaders Doing Dialogue, Mifgash and Peoplehood


Source: Hagira – Israel Journal of Migration vol. 5, 2016 pages 58-77


Jewish peoplehood is a meaningful concept in today's reality of global patterns, particularly migration and travel, easy transnational communication, and multiple identities. It aims to deepen mutual understanding and appreciation of different ways of being Jewish, regardless of homeland, belief, nationality, commitment, or behavior. Linkage programs have become an accepted way to enhance personal Jewish identity and to promote connections between Jews from different places. This article examines one multi-year linkage program's impact on both Israeli and American university student participants.

A four - component peoplehood paradigm consisting of: a sense of belonging to the Jewish People, the feeling of connection to other Jews, Jewish capital, and personal responsibility is used as a frame to present findings. The educational program incorporated coordinated academic study, as well as a travel component and a mifgash with peers from another country. The paper discusses the similarities, as well as the differences, not only between the Israeli and the American groups of students, but also between different cohorts of students of the same nationality. While some of the findings are anomalous, there are compelling reasons to believe that a linkage program brings significant benefits to participants, in terms of identity enhancement and feelings of connection to other Jews and to the Jewish people at large.

Updated: Sep. 08, 2016