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Study: Young US Jews don’t see Israel as campaign issue

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When young, non-Orthodox American Jews vote in next week’s US elections, they will be far less likely than their elders to be thinking about Israel’s security, according to the 2008 National Survey of American Jews, sponsored by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at New York University.

The key finding of the study, released over the weekend: Just 29 percent of non-Orthodox Jews younger than 35 say “the situation involving Israel and the Palestinians” is either “high” or “very high” as a consideration in determining their vote for president.

That figure nearly doubles to 54% among non-Orthodox Jews over 65, and stands at 39% for those aged 35-54.

The figure among young non-Orthodox Jews was similar to that of non-Jews (26%) found in a parallel simultaneous national survey.

At 81%, Orthodox young adults report the highest concern for Israel among their peers, a figure as high as that of their elders. Among all Jews, the figure stands at 52%.

Regarding the young non-Orthodox demographic, the study found that the detachment from Israel was not connected to a detachment from Judaism.

“Thus, it’s not that they care less about being Jewish and thus care less about Israel - their “Jewish-caring” levels match their elders. Diminished concern with Israel in the election does NOT reflect diminished importance attached to being Jewish,” the study states.

“Younger non-Orthodox Jews are no less likely than their elders to say that being Jewish is important or very important to them,” reads the study.

Among the non-Orthodox, 81% rate being Jewish as “somewhat” or “very” important to them, with no difference between older and younger respondents.

The study noticed a marked rise in visits to Israel among American Jews, attributing this partly to birthright Israel. 36% of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 have visited Israel, compared to 37% of non-Orthodox Jews of their parents’ generation - a marked increase considering that they had fewer years in which to make the visit.

Seventeen percent of the young Jews came on a second visit, compared to just 13% of their parents’ generation.

Of second trips, the study finds: “It is only among those who’ve visited Israel twice that the age-related gap in Israel-concern disappears. Each trip to Israel is associated with leaps in levels of caring about Israel as a factor in the presidential election. However, for young people especially, the second trip to Israel is the true watershed in boosting their caring for Israel.”

In all, “with the passage of time, not only is the level of attachment to Israel likely to decline among non-Orthodox Jews, but so too is the breadth of political support for the Jewish state. That said, expanded repeat travel to Israel consisting of two or more visits appears capable of offsetting these declines.”

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Walling off, reaching out

Teaneck shul offers discussion of Women of the Wall

It is not an understatement to say that the saga of Women of the Wall is a metaphor for much of the struggle between tradition and change in Israel.

Founded 25 years ago by a group of Israeli and non-Israeli women whose religious affiliations ran from Orthodox to Reform, it has been a flashpoint for the fight for pluralism in Israel, as one side would define it, or the obligation to hold onto God-given mandates on the other.

As its members and supporters fought for the right to hold services in the women’s section, raising their voices in prayer, and later to wear tallitot and read from sifrei Torah, and as their opponents grew increasingly violent in response, it came to define questions of synagogue versus state and showcase both the strengths and the flaws of Israel’s extraordinary parliamentary system. It also highlighted rifts between American and Israeli Jews.


Shabbat in the White City

Fair Lawn man aims for Guinness-record dinner in Tel Aviv

Jay Shultz is determined to set a new world record while promoting Tel Aviv — usually cited for its nightlife and startup culture — as a great place to spend Shabbat.

The 37-year-old Fair Lawn native, who has lived in Israel since 2006, has earned a reputation as the “International Mayor of Tel Aviv” after a series of grand-scale initiatives geared at positioning his adopted city as welcoming haven for young professional immigrants.

His latest exploit: Through his popular White City Shabbat program, which offers communal meals for young Israelis and immigrants at local synagogues, Mr. Shultz launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to sponsor the world’s largest Shabbat dinner.


Lighting up Africa

Frisch raises money for solar technology with fashion show

What do the students at a New Jersey Jewish high school and 450,000 residents of rural African villages have in common?

Since 2008, the nonprofit agency called Innovation: Africa — iA — has brought Israeli solar technology to provide clean water, drip irrigation, and refrigeration to villagers in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. And for the last three years, this UN-award winning program has been a focal point for the Frisch School in Paramus.

An African Encounter Night and Africa-themed fashion show held last month exposed students and parents to iA’s work and raised another $3,300 toward Frisch’s goal of contributing $10,000 to light up a sister school in East Africa using solar panels.

“The fact that Frisch has decided to educate children on wider global issues is remarkable and demonstrates a break from the norm,” said Emma Goldman, Innovation: Africa’s outreach coordinator.



Israel launching drive to void Goldstone Report

WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would launch an international campaign to cancel the Goldstone Report after its author, ex-South African Judge Richard Goldstone, wrote in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post that Israel did not intentionally target civilians as a policy during the Gaza War, withdrawing a critical allegation in the report.

Netanyahu said he had asked his security adviser, Ya’akov Amidror, to establish a committee focused on “minimizing the damage caused” by the report.


Facebook and Zuckerberg does an about-face and deletes Palestinian page calling for a Third Intifada

Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.

According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name,  “Third Palestinian Intifada.”


Did heated rhetoric play role in shooting of Giffords?

WASHINGTON – The 8th District in southern Arizona represented by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords comprises liberal Tucson and its rural hinterlands, which means moderation is a must. But it also means that spirits and tensions run high.

Giffords’ office in Tucson was ransacked in March following her vote for health care reform — a vote the Democrat told reporters that she would cast even if it meant her career. She refused to be cowed, but she also took aim at the hyped rhetoric. She cast the back-and-forth as part of the democratic process.

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