Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Knesset event honoring the 100 year connection of American Jewry and Israel .
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
The Knesset on Wednesday marked 100 years of Jewish-American support of Zionism, starting in the years of the Yishuv and continuing after the formation of the State of Israel.
The event was an initiative of MK Nachman Shai of the Zionist Union & the Ruderman Family Foundation. "American Jews are a stable and wide bridge which supports Israeli-American relations at all times and in any situation," Shai said. "The community is the most important strategic asset in the relations between the two countries.”
Among the attendees was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke of his lifelong connection to American Jewry as well as the contributions US Jewry has made to Israel.
Netanyahu discussed Americans' key role in the freeing of Soviet Jewry, which he described as a "massive contribution to humanity and also to the future of the Jewish people."
"The relationship between Israel and American Jewry is not only contributions and youth delegations," Kulanu MK Michael Oren said. "The relationship serves Israel's political and security interests."
At a Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs meeting, MKs saw a report that said in the past 25 years, donations from American Jewry doubled and in the last 40 years more than 115,000 American Jews have made aliya.
Included was an exhibition in the Knesset's Chagall Hall titled, "Stripes, Stars and Magen David" initiated and sponsored by the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa. The exhibition featured 100 photos showcasing American Jewry's contribution to Israel.
Shira Ruderman, Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation said “For the past 10 years, May has marked Jewish American Heritage month in the US and we thought it was time that Israeli society also acknowledged American Jewry and recognize the contribution the community has made to the State of Israel throughout the years.”
“The first step in Israel is knowledge. Most Israelis are not familiar with the fact that the American Jewish community has played such a significant role in the creation of the Zionist undertaking in building and developing the Jewish state,” Ruderman said.