'Majority of Israelis see US Jewry as vital to security'

Poll: 73% of adults say Israel can learn a lot from religious pluralism of American Jewish community; MKs to take Diaspora study tour.

mks going to america 311 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
mks going to america 311 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
The majority of Israelis believe that the US Jewish community is vital to their country’s security and political existence, a Teleseker poll carried out last week on behalf of the Israel and Boston-based Ruderman Family Foundation has revealed.
Carried out to coincide with the launch of the new Ruderman Fellowship Program, which aims to educate Knesset members about the intricacies of the organized Jewish community in the US, the poll saw an overwhelming 87 percent of respondents answering "very important" and "quite important" to the question: "How important is the American Jewish community to Israel’s security and political existence?"
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In addition, the majority (73%) of the 500 adults questioned for the survey said they believed that Israelis could learn a lot from the religious pluralism practiced in the American Jewish community, even though streams of Judaism alternative to the orthodox are not officially recognized in Israel.
“I was surprised by the overwhelming nature of the results,” commented Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation, who met in the Knesset on Tuesday with the six MKs – Eitan Cabel and Daniel Ben Simon (Labor), Tzipi Hotovely and Carmel Shama (Likud), and Avi Dichter and Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) – set to travel to Boston and New York in early April.
Run in cooperation with Brandeis University, Ruderman said that the main goal of the program is to provide MKs with an exclusive insight into how the US Jewish community operations, including the religious and political divides of many key organizations.
Among those set to brief the MKs are Anti-Defamation League Director Abe Foxman; Executive Director of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Howard Kohr; Jerry Silverman, President and CEO, Jewish Federations of North America; Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service; Steven Schwager, CEO and Executive Vice President, American Joint Distribution Committee and representatives of Jewish Funders Network among many others.
“They [the MKs] are very enthusiastic about the trip,” said Ruderman. “All of them have said ‘we travel abroad and speak about Israel frequently but we never have had the chance to learn about the Jewish world from the other side.”
In addition to the questions of Israeli attitudes towards US Jewry, the poll also asked respondents if they believed it important to "teach Israeli MKs about the American Jewish community and help build bridges between Israeli leaders and American Jewry." Eighty-two percent said that such an initiative was important.
“All these MKs will at some point take a vote on something that will affect Jews all over the world,” pointed out Ruderman, highlighting “Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora is special and therefore it makes complete sense to strengthen it even further.”
He added: “They always say that it is the people who know best and I think it’s true. The people of Israel have a deep understanding of the Diaspora and that is why their leaders should be well informed.”