The Organizations Report
A new report in collaboration with the Ruderman Family Foundation mapping the challenges of American and Diaspora Jewry and the connection with Israel
The "Organizations Report" was written by the Reut Group with support from the Ruderman Family Foundation as part of our shared efforts to strengthen relations between Israel and American Jewry. The report is based on a virtual gathering last year, which focused on the challenges and opportunities facing American and Diaspora Jewry and their connection to Israel. The participants were a group of 100 leaders and key activists from organizations in Israel, the United States, and other countries engaged in strengthening the relationship between world Jewry and Israel. The main ideas that emerged from the insights and recommendations of conference participants, which focused on the Israeli arena and decision-makers in Israel as the state of the Jewish people, served as the basis for the report's content. Additionally, the document contains references from literature and media to validate and expand upon the ideas presented.
We approached the report with the understanding that the State of Israel plays a crucial role as the state of the Jewish people and must act strategically to position and strengthen its relationship with Diaspora Jewry in all relevant areas. The relationship between the state and independent, dispersed communities that operate without central coordination has changed significantly in the 75 years since the State of Israel was established. This presents a significant challenge that must be taken into consideration. In light of the current challenges and opportunities, both regionally and internationally, this issue must be examined in-depth, and recommendations and solutions must be provided to ensure a secure and prosperous future for the Jewish people.
The purpose of this document is not only to present data, conclusions, and recommendations but also to serve as a resource for professionals in Israel and decision-makers involved in strengthening relations between Israel and Jews in the United States and the Diaspora. The clear recommendations presented in this report will likely serve as valuable tools for shaping and implementing Israeli policy that views Diaspora Jews as an essential strategic asset for Israel's national security.
This document was written by the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Reut Institute. As part of the activities of the Foundation to strengthen relations between Israel and world Jewry, and in collaboration with the Peoplehood Coalition established by the Reut Institute, the Foundation held a virtual event on July 27, 2021, under the title "Mapping the challenges of American and Diaspora Jewry and the connection with Israel." This document summarizes the main ideas, insights, and recommendations that emerged during the conference, and includes a literature and media review, to substantiate and enrich these ideas.
Today the relationship between Israel and world Jewry is affected by different and contradictory trends. Although the dominant trends encourage distancing between the parties, trends that encourage rapprochement are getting stronger. The distancing between Israel and world Jewry, especially the distancing from American Jewry, results from various processes coinciding in Israel and the Diaspora.
In general, on the Israeli side, there has been a weakening of many Israelis' sense of belonging with Jews living outside of Israel, and the perception of Jewish identity is gradually becoming more national. These attitudes are strengthened by the lack of knowledge regarding Jewish life outside of Israel.
At the same time, on the American side, especially in young liberal and progressive circles, Israel is becoming a polarizing factor in the face of Israeli state security policies and religion and state issues. The attitude toward Israel is primarily affected by the American Jews’ identity challenges, which also undermine the Jewish establishment in the US and are accelerated by various factors such as the intergenerational gap and economic and social issues.
The current relationship is full of contradictions and tensions, and it is possible to detect a real clash of perceptual paradigms. At present, we identify two conflicting perceptions: one stems from changes in the balance of political and economic power, and the other from value-related and social changes in Israel and the Diaspora. The undermining of several working assumptions about the relations between Israel and world Jewry, reviewed in this document, widens the cognitive and emotional gap, creates a sense of mutual alienation, and challenges the centrality of Israel in the Jewish world.
Despite the above, in recent years, we have witnessed an apparent increase in the public and media discourse in Israel on strengthening relations between Israel and world Jewry. Dozens of civil society and committed philanthropy organizations are driving a profound social change that, in a few years, is likely to significantly affect the perception of belonging in the Israeli Jewish community. For example, study programs about the Jewish world are implemented today in hundreds of schools in formal education and academia; most Zionist youth movements in Israel today also include Jewish peoplehood-related activities, and peoplehood studies are also integrated into training courses for senior civil servants.
In recent years, ideological voices in Israel are challenging the effort to connect Israeli society, and American Jewry has gained traction, often motivated by the claim that it is an attempt to suppress the status of Orthodoxy in Israel and even to challenge Zionism. The opinion of the authors of this document is that these voices are, to a large extent, a reaction to the “creeping” consciousness revolution regarding the relationship with world Jewry. Either way, it seems that the relationship between Israel and world Jewry is finally emerging, even if little by little, on the agenda of the Israeli public.
The relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry is full of complex challenges and valuable opportunities. An active position must be taken, rooted in a deep understanding of the trends, focusing on areas where it can influence and change. It is in the vital Jewish-Israeli interest to strengthen the trends encouraging rapprochement because the connection with US Jewry is crucial for Israel's national security and the Jewish people's future.
As stated in the Declaration of Independence, the founding ethos of the State of Israel is to be the nation-state of the Jewish people. To realize it, several steps must be taken. In the short term, it is essential to recognize the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora as a matter of national security. Significant resources must be allocated to education, building leadership, and reshaping relations with the Diaspora. In the long term, it is crucial to work toward profoundly changing the Israeli perception of Diaspora Jews. Action must be taken to create a systematic policy in government offices and public institutions so that they take an active position concerning the Diaspora. Public awareness must be achieved by creating a “public space advocating peoplehood.” We must also strive for the mechanisms of identity formation in formal and informal education to reflect a pedagogical content that promotes the connection of Israel to world Jewry in line with the concept of peoplehood-based Zionism.
Structure of the report:
Part 1: The State of Israel: Challenges in strengthening and maintaining the connection with world Jewry
Marginality of the issue
Erosion of Diaspora relations in the Israeli leadership
Alternatives to Jewish support for Israel
Part 2: American and Diaspora Jews: Challenges in strengthening and maintaining the relationship with Israel
The trend of not belonging to any Jewish stream
Cost of living
Identity politics and erasure of Jewishness in the progressive discourse
The younger generation is more difficult to reach
The connection with Israel
Undermining the strategic importance of Israel
Changing attitudes toward Israel on the American left
Jewish education in the Diaspora and education about the Diaspora in Israel
Part 3: The clash of paradigms
First Clash: Changes in the balance of economic and political power
Second Clash: Value-based and social changes
Part 4: The opportunities that arise from the current crisis between Israel and the US and world Jewry
Bringing the discourse to the social-public agenda
New concepts of Jewish identity
Creation of a cohort of new players
The Jewish nation is in excellent condition
Part 5: Recommendations for strengthening the relations between Israel and the US and world Jewry
Defining the relationship with the Diaspora as an element of Israel's national security
Work plans and allocation of resources
Creation of a pedagogical continuum in the formal and informal education system
Leveraging graduates of Israeli missions
Strategic long-term multi-ministerial plan
Defining the role of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people for the long term
Awareness: creating a public space that advocates peoplehood
Rebuilding the political and social center of American Jewry
Strengthening of peoplehood programs in the social and economic periphery of Israel
First Quarterly Report - mapping the Jewish Peoplehood field in Israel
We are very proud to present the first quarterly report of the Jewish People Field Mapping System. The report presents data for the first quarter of 2022 (January-March) and further completion of April information. This is the first report produced on the basis of the new mapping system.