Attachment of American Jews to Israel: Perspectives from Local Jewish Community Studies

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


This paper: (1) examines two "distancing hypotheses" concerning the extent to which distancing from Israel has or has not been occurring in American Jewish society; and, (2) describes and explains geographic variations in levels of attachment to Israel. Distancing Hypothesis I states that younger Jews are less attached to Israel than are older Jews. Distancing Hypothesis II states that the overall attachment of American Jews to Israel has been decreasing over time. Evidence on the distancing hypothesis from national studies of American Jews is briefly reviewed to show that researchers have been unable to agree on a conclusion. Evidence from as many as 37 local Jewish community studies shows support for Distancing Hypothesis I, but the strength of this support varies among communities. Evidence from local community studies, however, does not support Distancing Hypothesis II and sometimes shows the reverse. An implication is that some of the Jewish continuity programming, such as Birthright Israel, may be impacting American Jews. Level of attachment to Israel, whether measured by visits to Israel, willingness to send one's teenagers to Israel, emotional attachment to Israel, or the extent to which respondents indicate that Israel motivates their donations to Jewish organizations, varies significantly by community. These geographic variations by community can be explained, in part, by community variations in the percentage of married couples who are intermarried, percentage Just Jewish, percentage Orthodox, percentage age 18-34, percentage elderly, and the year each study was conducted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-65
Number of pages39
JournalContemporary Jewry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • American Jewish opinion
  • Attachment to Israel
  • Distancing hypothesis
  • Jewish geography
  • Local Jewish community studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Attachment of American Jews to Israel: Perspectives from Local Jewish Community Studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this