Statements & Press Releases

Statements & Press Releases

Statements Press Release

Symposium Unpacks Young American Jewry’s Attitudes Toward Israel

April 10, 2023

At the event hosted by University of Haifa’s Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, Dr. Ilana Horowitz shared that 54% of young American Jews believe they pay a price socially for supporting Israel. 

Haifa, Israel (March 23, 2023) – In its annual symposium at University of Haifa, the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies examined the relationship between young American Jews and their attitudes toward Israel. 

The symposium featured lectures on the prevailing challenges facing young Jews in the United States today, ranging from the fight against antisemitism, to Jewish identity, and their relationship with Israel. 

University of Haifa’s Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies offers students the historical background behind the Israel-American Jewry relationship as well as a comprehensive modern-day understanding of the realities on the ground for the U.S. Jewish community in order to ensure their knowledge translates into improving the future of these two communities moving forward. The program’s main objective is to explore how to maintain the critical relationship between Israel and American Jews for the benefit of Jewish people and the State of Israel. 

As such, given the current complex political situation in Israel and around the world, the conference focused this year on young American Jewry and their attitudes towards Israel. Hosted also in collaboration with Hillel Israel, the conference had several young American Jews in attendance, and addressed their struggles specifically when it comes to antisemitism and coping with a fragmented identity.  

Dr. Ilana Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies & Sociology at Tulane University, spoke about the challenges young American Jews face on college campuses. According to the information she presented, 54% of Jewish college students in the U.S. pay what she described as a “social cost” to support the state of Israel on their campus. Therefore, many Jews decide to “sit it out” and be on the sidelines, both in Jewish life and conversations about Israel on campus. 

The symposium featured key figures who are leading the conversation about American Jewry and its relationship with Israel, including Avital Indig, a journalist at Makor Rishon, who moderated the discussion; Jay and Shira Ruderman, President and Executive Director, respectively, of the Ruderman Family Foundation; Hamutal Rogel Fox, Director of the Jewish Communities Division of the Israeli Foreign Ministry; Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky, Head of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies; Dr. Rabbi Sara Yael Hirschhorn of Northwestern University; Dr. Ilana Horwitz, Assistant Professor of the Department of Jewish Studies at Tulane University; Dr. Avidan Milevsky, associate professor of psychology at the Department of Behavioral Sciences at Ariel University; Rabbi Doron Peretz, Head of the World Mizrachi Movement; Avi Nevo, CEO of Nevo Information Systems Ltd.; and Ephraim Greenblatt, chef and owner of Hatch Brewery and Shmaltz Restaurant.  

Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said, “This year’s theme, ‘Young American Jewry,’ is an important one because it provides an opportunity to examine the state of American Jewry and its future leaders. The challenges a young American Jew faces today are complex and are a worthy topic of discussion and analysis so we can continue to strengthen the connection between young American Jews and Israel.” 

He added, “This relationship is a strategic asset for Israel, is integral to its national security, and is one we must strive to preserve. This conference provides us a window to delve into this subject matter and boosts Israel’s public understanding of American Jewry who live in a complex reality. Additionally, the knowledge covered in today’s program encourages the public to continue to engage with this relationship and find ways to promote it.” 

Dr. Avidan Milevsky, Associate Professor of Psychology at Ariel University, presented what factors, both pre-Aliyah and post-Aliyah, impact a successful immigration to Israel. Some of these included: a pull vs. push factor in their reasoning for wanting to move to Israel, what community to live in, which school to attend, the purchasing of American products, and more.  

“This is the 10th year the University of Haifa has offered the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies. In this program, students learn about the complex realities of American Jewry in-depth and in doing so, help enhance the relationship between Israel and that critical community,” said Dr. Barak-Gorodetsky. “Our students and graduates delve into not only the history of this relationship and where it stands today, but also primes them to be advocates for supporting and enhancing ties between those two communities. Learning about the needs of young American Jews is a critical part of our research, as it can predict and explain where this relationship is headed, what will be the core guiding principles behind this relationship, and how contemporary American Jewish identity will be viewed in the years to come.” 

For more than two decades, the Ruderman Family Foundation has undertaken multifaceted efforts to solidify Israel’s relationship with American Jewry. The Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies is the first and only master’s program of its kind in Israel and promotes ongoing academic research in Israel on the topics of Jewish-American life, American society, and the lasting and vital bond between American Jews, the State of Israel, and Israeli society. 

Captions (Credit – Yaniv Kopel): 

Photo 1: Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky, Head of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies, addressing the symposium
Photo 2: A panel session during the symposium at the University of Haifa 

Media Contact: 

Noa Amouyal, J Cubed Communications
(IL) 058.784.8148; (US) 301.966.0700

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