Israel Reaches Out to Strengthen Jewish Identity Among Young American Jews to Solidify Their Connection to Israel
AP - More than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month with a daunting mission: to save Jewish life in North America.
Jewish American leaders have known for years that assimilation and intermarriage were slowly shrinking their communities, but the early November gathering took on an extra sense of urgency. Just weeks earlier, a landmark study had found that young American Jews are growing increasingly estranged from Judaism.
"An Israel which doesn't address these issues is an Israel which in the long run endangers the relationship with world Jewry," said Donniel Hartman, who leads an initiative called iEngage, which encourages dialogue about perceptions of Israel with American Jews and which sent representatives to November's gathering.He said Jews who don't believe Israel shares their liberal values may disconnect from it.
"It's clear to us that if you are not part of the Orthodox world and are not connected to Israel, you assimilate," said Natan Sharansky, the Jewish Agency's chairman."We need to show how much your life is more interesting, more significant if part of your identity is also a deep connection to Israel," he added.
"I know that we have that inner strength to guarantee the Jewish future. I know it and you know it and together we're going to achieve exactly that - to defend and secure the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the gathering of Jewish leaders.
"To what extent do Jews care about Israel and to what extent do they support Israel's policies? If you're a political leader in Israel, both factors come into account," he said.