The Widening Gap between American and Israeli Jews Is about Far More Than Politics https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2019/05/the-widening-gap-between-american-and-israeli-jews-is-about-far-more-than-politics/

May 14, 2019 | Elliot Jager

Much has been written, including in Mosaic, about the divergence between American Jews and Israel. To Elliot Jager, the reasons are not hard to identify:

Why should Israelis and American Jews see eye to eye? Americans and Israelis are not alike. They have different concerns, interests, lifestyles, and even a different calendar. Most American Jews do not speak Hebrew. Nor do they treat Friday night as special, whereas more than 60 percent of Israelis observe Shabbat by lighting candles or reciting a benediction over wine before sitting down to a family-centric dinner. With all these differences and more, it’s not surprising American Jews do not make Israel a high priority when they go to the polls to vote. . . .

To remedy the situation, thousands of young people have been brought to Israel through a Jewish program intended to connect them to their heritage. . . . Even visitors with the best intentions, [however], fail to grasp Israel’s precarious topography. It is doubtful they realize the hills overlooking Ben-Gurion Airport are in the “occupied” West Bank and that a single terrorist armed with an Iranian-supplied surface-to-air Stinger missile could shut down the country’s main airport. . . .

To be fair, Israel bears some responsibility for the estrangement between American and Israeli Jews. Israel has forgotten that the diaspora has been crucial to building the country—from museums to hospitals to the Knesset [building] to the new national library. Increasingly, this devotion is not shown respect. Jews in the United States want to see non-Orthodox Judaism strengthened in Israel. They want non-Orthodox rabbis to be permitted to officiate at Israeli weddings. They want an area adjacent to the Western Wall where families can pray together, rather than be segregated by sex, as is the Orthodox practice. . . .

Of course, it does not help that a plurality of Israelis—many of whom are as ignorant about the non-Orthodox streams in the United States as U.S. Jewry is about Israel—opposes setting aside any space near the Western Wall for non-Orthodox prayers. . . .

Read more on Israel My Glory: https://israelmyglory.org/article/the-great-divide/