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Research Dispels Myth that US Jews Are Detached from Israel

Hebrew University researchers found to their surprise that recent polls claiming that more American Jews are detached from Israel are inaccurate.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/7/2010, 4:24 PM / Last Update: 4/7/2010, 5:14 PM

Hebrew University researchers have discovered, much to their own surprise, that recent polls claiming more American Jews to be detached from Israel are inaccurate. 

Several recent surveys widely reported in the media that found that American Jews have a negative or detached view of Israel are inaccurate, according to a team of researchers at the Harman Institute of the Hebrew University.

Basing their study on data from the National Jewish Population Survey in the United States and studies in other countries, they discovered that American Jews generally retain a “measurable sense of mutual responsibility among Jews and an understanding towards fulfilling Israel’s needs.”

The revolutionary conclusion appears in a recent paper published by the Facet Theory Association. The authors are Sergio DellaPergola, the Shomo Argov Professor of Israel-Diaspora Relations, along with Dr. Shlomit Levy, Dr. Uzi Rebhun and Dalia Sagi.

DellaPergola believes that the picture created of loosening ties with Jewish values and Israel that emerged from recent surveys exists when it comes to measuring respondents’ family ties, emotional involvement and volunteering. A weakening of Jewish and Israeli identification can be especially detected among non-Orthodox, younger Jews whose religious affiliations and Jewish organizational participation are not at the same levels of earlier generations.

However, a more comprehensive picture of American Jewry is seen when viewing as broad a spectrum as possible in a representative national sample, including unaffiliated Jews of all ages.

“The existence of an overarching global pattern of Jewish identification is supported by our data," according to DellaPergola. “This is no minor finding, as it contradicts the thesis – made popular in recent years by some post-modernist writers – that a shared Jewish identity does not exist as such.