The Widening Gulf Among World Jewry

A newly released study by the Lifshiz College of Education in Jerusalem claims relations between Israel’s Jews and the Diaspora are in danger.

According to the research, conducted by Dr. Dov Goldplem, the Israeli Jewish public appears to be ignorant when it comes to Diaspora Jewry, and this may lead to a cultural separation between the Jewish people in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora.

“The public in Israel is not familiar enough with the patterns of life of its brothers across the world,” says Dr. Goldplem, head of the Center of Jewish Education in the Diaspora at the Lifshiz College. According to him, the Israeli public in general, and the religious youth in particular, believe that the patterns of life of Jews worldwide are very similar to their own.

“Many concepts, like Reform and Conservative Judaism, are unfamiliar to the religious youth from the angle of Jews living abroad. For example, the legitimacy given to the Reform and Conservative public abroad is not understood by the religious youth, and so finding a common language between religious youth in Israel and religious youth abroad is nearly impossible.”

In the study, Dr. Goldplem indicates that one of the main culprits is the dramatic drop in the number of emissaries going abroad over the past several years. He believes this stems mainly from a shortage in the Jewish Agency (JAFI) budgets, which has led to JAFI sending fewer emissaries then it did in the past.

“It’s highly important to raise the awareness of young people in Israel in general, and students for education in particular, to the patterns of life of the Diaspora Jews, in order to increase their motivation and the number of emissaries going abroad on the one hand, and help teachers who are not going on missions to absorb immigrant students and convey a message of solidarity with the Diaspora Jews on the other hand,” the researcher says.