A new study published by the Lifshiz College of Education in Jerusalem ahead of Independence Day shows that the relations between Israel's Jews and the Diaspora Jewry are in danger.
The findings of the study, conducted by Dr. Dov Goldplem, are troubling. According to the research, the Jewish public in Israel appears to be ignorant when it comes to the Diaspora Jewry, and this may lead to a cultural separation between the Jewish people in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora and weaken the State of Israel's status as the global Jewish center.
"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 a 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 points to one of the main reason to the detachment – a dramatic drop in the number of emissaries going abroad over the past years and the change in their character. He believes this stems mainly from a deficiency in the Jewish Agency budgets, and that the financial problem prevents the JA from sending emissaries to all parts of the world as it did 10 years ago, as well as a drop in teachers' motivation to serve as emissaries.
"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.
In order to deal with the problem, the Lifishiz College has decided to obligate all students of education to study the issue of Diaspora Jewry, and has even established an advanced study center on this subject for Jewish teachers in Israel and abroad, with the hopes that they would relay this knowledge to their students.
According to the center, the intensive studying of the Diaspora Jewry issue as part of the education studies has led many of the graduates to engage in bringing Diaspora Jews closer to Israel and embark on missions worldwide. Only this year, four college graduates were sent to a Jewish community in Australia immediately after completing their studies.