There is no doubt, that as the years go by, the connection between the younger Jewish generation and Israel has deteriorated, and the connection to Israel has become weaker.
In today’s globalized world, where the Jewish diaspora is spread far and wide, it can be challenging to maintain a strong connection to the homeland. However, it is crucial that we do so, especially in times of turbulence and uncertainty. The relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community has been central to the ability of both communities to develop and grow.
Unfortunately, the current generation has witnessed increasing trends of distancing and alienation between Israel and American Jewry, a weakened connection and sense of mutual belonging, and the decline of responsibility and involvement between the two communities. These reinforce the challenges surrounding the continuity of the American Jewish community and its political and social influence within the United States.
These developments also carry long term consequences for Israel’s national security and the Jewish people as a whole. They challenge Israel’s purpose and identity as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and the internal cohesion of the Jewish communities in the United States and Israel. At this time, we have to think what can attract the younger generation to come to Israel, so they can form closer ties with the country in the future.
The challenges facing Israel today are complex and multifaceted. From ongoing conflict and security concerns to political instability and economic challenges, there are many reasons why the image of Israel may not be as strong as it could be. However, by investing in our youth, we can create a brighter future for Israel and the Jewish people.
It is important to shape the opinion of the younger generation about Israel right now and certainly in this turbulent time when the image of Israel is not positive. It is important that the young people come to Israel to get to know the country, the culture and the Israelis. These children can even become ambassadors in their schools and in their own families.
Many young American Jews do not identify with Judaism
Recent studies of US Jews have demonstrated that young American Jews are increasingly likely to say they do not identify with the Jewish religion, participate less in Jewish customs, and have less attachment to the Jewish people. These studies demonstrate that young American Jews are displaying less and less attachment to the Jewish people and Jewish life.
Bringing young people from the Diaspora to Israel is a powerful way to build stronger connections and create a sense of belonging. When young people experience Israel firsthand, they are more likely to develop a deeper understanding of the country and its people. They can see the incredible diversity of Israeli society, from the bustling cities to the tranquil countryside, and experience the richness of Jewish culture and tradition.
For many young Jews living in the Diaspora, their only connection to Israel is through their religious traditions and family ties. It is vital that they have a deeper understanding of the country’s history, politics, and culture. By doing so, they can become advocates for Israel and better understand the challenges that the country faces.
MOREOVER, WHEN they arrive in Israel, they will realize that there are many ways to live as a Jew, and that it is possible, for example, to observe Shabbat or other mitzvot in a traditional and social way, and not necessarily religiously. This understanding may release something in them and create a more relaxed conversation and acceptance.
At Kimama, for example, we strive to create an immersive and educational experience for all our campers. We want to show them a significant journey and multicultural experience, so they can feel the real Israel and be exposed to different perspectives, opinions, and experiences. By bringing Israeli and Jewish children together, we can create a shared language and a sense of community that transcends national borders and cultural differences.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is more important than ever to maintain strong ties between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. This includes both Jewish children in the diaspora and Israeli children who have emigrated to other countries.
There are many reasons why it is important to bring the younger generation closer to Israel. First and foremost, Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and maintaining a strong connection to this land is an essential part of Jewish identity.
For Diaspora Jewish children, a connection to Israel can provide a sense of belonging and a connection to their heritage. For Israeli children who have emigrated, maintaining a connection to their homeland can help them to maintain a sense of cultural identity and pride.
In addition to its cultural and historical significance, Israel is also a dynamic and vibrant country that offers many opportunities for young people. Whether it’s through travel, study abroad programs, or volunteering opportunities, there are many ways for young people to engage with Israel and experience its unique culture and way of life. These experiences can be transformative, broadening young people’s horizons while exposing them to new perspectives and ideas.
Furthermore, maintaining a strong connection to Israel can help to create a sense of unity and solidarity within the Jewish community. In a world that is increasingly divided along cultural and political lines, it is more important than ever to find common ground and build bridges between different communities. By maintaining a strong connection to Israel, Jews from all over the world can come together and celebrate their shared heritage and culture.
At the same time, it is important to recognize that maintaining a connection to Israel can be challenging, particularly for young people who may feel disconnected from their cultural roots. This is why programs like summer camps, study abroad programs, and other cultural exchange initiatives are so important. These programs provide young people with the opportunity to engage with Israel in a meaningful way, building a deeper understanding and appreciation of its culture and history.
In conclusion, maintaining a strong connection to Israel is essential for the younger generation, both Diaspora Jewish children and Israeli children who have emigrated. By providing opportunities for young people to engage with Israel and experience its unique culture and way of life, we can help to foster a sense of belonging and connection to the Jewish community.
In a world that is increasingly divided, maintaining a strong connection to Israel is more important than ever, helping to create a sense of unity and solidarity that can transcend cultural and political differences.
The writer is partner and VP Israel/Europe, Kimama Israel – an organization that holds summer camps every year for Israelis and for Jewish children and youth who come to Israel from the Diaspora.