AJC survey: Israel and Diaspora deficient in knowledge about each other

Survey by American Jewish Committee finds that both communities would like to learn more about each other but suffer from lack of education.

Dan Verbin ,

The Israel-Diaspora Rift Red Herring?
The Israel-Diaspora Rift Red Herring?

The world’s two largest Jewish communities display a distinct lack of education about each other, concluded a new study conducted by the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

The American Jewish community, the largest in the Diaspora, and the Jewish community in Israel share “striking deficiencies” in knowledge about one another. Still, mutual affinity is strong.

The parallel studies, conducted with Jews in the US and in Israel, found that 60 percent of American Jews believe that being connected to Israel is important to their Jewish identity, while 75 percent of Israeli Jews feel that a thriving Diaspora is central to the long-term vitality of the Jewish people.

"These surveys provide a wealth of critical information about the state of Israel-Diaspora relations, and make the case for increased commitment in each community to high-quality education about, and interpersonal engagement with, the other," said Laura Shaw Frank, AJC Director of Contemporary Jewish Life.

Education in the US about Israel was seen by American Jews as a mixed bag, with 37 percent describing their education on the Jewish State as strong, 21 percent as medium, and 22 percent as weak. Orthodox Jews were more likely have have had a strong education about Israel, with 60 percent of Orthodox Jews answering “yes” to the question.

Half of American Jews surveyed said that they continued to learn about Israel after high school thorough courses, trips or events. For those under the age of 40, the number jumped to 67 percent.

Conversely, education in Israel about Diaspora Jewry turned out to be far less common than American Jews learning about Israel.

Thirty-two percent of Israeli Jews did not receive any education about the Diaspora, with 37 saying that had received non-comprehensive education.

Nearly half surveyed, 47 percent, said if given the opportunity they would like to learn more about American Jews.

Only 16 percent of Americans and 13 percent of Israeli were able to correctly answer several basic knowledge questions about the other community.

Only 45 percent of American Jews have visited Israel, while 47 percent of Israelis have visited the US.

The survey can be found at https://ajc.org/survey2021.