American Jews rally for Israel
American Jews rally for IsraelFlash 90

Marking the start of the annual Jewish American Heritage Month, the Ruderman Family Foundation on Sunday launched the English-language version of its “50 States, 50 Communities” website, which aims to expand Israelis’ and Americans’ knowledge about U.S. Jewry beyond the best-known communities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and more.

The website, which previously was only available in Hebrew, features an interactive map where users can learn an array of short information about the current and historical presence of the Jewish community in each U.S. state. The data provided on the site includes: the size of the state’s Jewish population; the Jewish population as a percent of the state’s total population; prominent Jews who lived in the state; a recap of the state’s early Jewish history and current Jewish community; an overview of the state’s ties with Israel, such as its number of Jewish Agency for Israel Shlichim (Israeli emissaries); and the state’s number of synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, Jewish Federations, and Chabad Centers.

By acquainting Israelis and Americans with less-familiar Jewish communities across the U.S. — and namely, those communities’ diverse views, cultures, and identities — the Foundation is taking its latest step to strengthen the bond between Israelis and American Jews.

“At a time when discourse surrounding Israel-American Jewry relations has heavily focused on criticisms, clashes, and crises, the ‘50 States, 50 Communities’ website offers the defining snapshots of what unites the Jewish communities on both sides of the Atlantic rather than what divides us, in addition to the attributes that make the Jewish community unique in each U.S. state,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Lost in the shuffle of frequent conversations on tension in the U.S.-Israel relationship are our mutual ties, similarities, and reciprocal commitments, as well as American Jews’ strong identification and emotional attachment with Israel. Our website’s interactive map powerfully embodies that dynamic, helping both sides understand the depth of the connection between Israel and U.S. Jewry.”

The Foundation’s other initiatives that enhance ties between the Israeli people and American Jews include the Knesset Caucus for Israel-American Jewry Relations, which aims to elevate the concerns of American Jews within the Israeli legislature’s deliberations; University of Haifa’s Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, a master’s degree that covers a wide range of issues pertaining to American Jewish life and American society; conferences such as the annual Symposium for the professional Community in Israel; and research efforts that provide thought leaders and decision-makers the data needed to properly understand the current trends in Israel-American Jewry relations.

During Jewish American Heritage Month each May, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society.

“It is no coincidence that we are introducing the English-language version of ‘50 States, 50 Communities’ in May, the month in which we celebrate the Jewish community’s indelible, transformational, and multifaceted contributions to American society,” Ruderman said. “For American Jews, the website’s data and narrative on each state’s community provide a crucial reminder that wherever they live, they are part of something larger than themselves — a rich, nationwide Jewish mosaic.”