Source: Jerusalem Post, Mar 4, 2008
The conventional wisdom holds that American Jews - and young adults in particular - are growing more distant from Israel. This seems in contradiction to the record breaking registration for this summer's Taglit-Birthright Israel which passed the 40,000 mark.
Three Brandeis University researchers conducted a comprehensive review of surveys carried out by the American Jewish Committee between 1994 and 2007, finding that roughly three-quarters of American Jews agreed that "caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew." The trends in the feelings toward Israel have remained largely stable over the years.
The researchers emphasize that older Jews expressed comparatively higher levels of support for Israel in surveys conducted it the 1980s and 1990s, as well as in the most recent surveys. The researchers feel that the findings mean that the age-differences evident in individual surveys, which have been the primary source of concern of previous analysts, do not reflect generational differences in attachment to Israel. These, age differences most likely reflect the social processes associated with aging. As today's younger Jews age, they will also become more attached to Israel.
Moreover, the researchers claim that the growing participation of young Americans in the Taglit-Israel Birthright program (over 160,000 since 1999) and in longer Israel programs, who return with a strengthened sense of connection to the Jewish State may well bring about a stronger relationship between the Diaspora and Israel, built upon direct experience, firsthand knowledge and personal relationships.
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