Thursday, October 24, 2013

Less Attachment To Israel Among Younger Non-Orthodox

New data from Pew study finds generational divides; Stephen Wise to sponsor Birthright trip.

Stewart Ain for The Jewish Week

Steven CohenYounger non-Orthodox Jews are less attached to Israel but are more optimistic about achieving a two-state solution than older non-Orthodox Jews, according to data just released from the new Pew Research Center survey of the American Jewish community.

Steven M. Cohen, research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a lead researcher for the Pew survey, said the “decline in Israel attachment” was coupled with a “rise in criticism of Israeli government policies among younger non-Orthodox Jews.”

Cohen, who asked the Pew Research Center to extrapolate these figures for him so that he could discuss them on a conference call Monday with the Israel Policy Forum, said the numbers revealed also that only 30 percent of non-Orthodox Jews 18-29 agreed with the statement that “caring about Israel is an essential part of being Jewish,” compared to 52 percent of those 65 and older.

He said he asked Pew to separate the results of non-Orthodox Jews from the Orthodox because the Orthodox tend to be “passionately supportive of Israel” and are “so supportive of [Israeli] government policies.”

In large part because of the free Birthright trips to Israel, 39 percent of those 18-29 said they had been to Israel, compared with 47 percent of those 65 and older. As a result of those trips, Cohen said, “younger Jews are more attached than they would be otherwise.”

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