Pew Study Casts Long Shadow Over Jewish Federations General Assembly in Israel

American Shift Away From Faith Overshadows Israel


By Ben Sales

Published November 12, 2013.
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Siegal called for the creation of “Jewish development zones” where large communities each would have a summer camp, high-quality Jewish day schools, increased youth programming and leadership training opportunities.

Panel sessions preceding the G.A. focused less on policy solutions and more on what principles should guide the Jewish community in responding to a lack of communal connection among young Jews. A two-day summit on formulating a plan to strengthen the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities ahead of the G.A. emphasized the value of immersive experiences for North American Jews in Israel and with Israelis.

“The Jewish identity of Jews around the world has weakened,” the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Harel Locker, said at the summit’s opening session. “This shift is opening a gap between the Jews of the Diaspora and Israel, especially among the younger generation.”

Speaking Sunday at a Global Jewish Peoplehood Roundtable sponsored by the UJA-Federation of New York, Boston’s Combined Jewish Philanthropies Executive Vice President Gil Preuss said that federations should focus on giving young Jews meaningful, substantive Jewish experiences instead of aiming to attract the maximum number of participants to programs.

“What does it mean to be Jewish, to be part of the Jewish people?” he said. “If you focus on content, you’ll get numbers.”


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