Intermountain Jewish News

Jul 25th
Home IJN Special Sections Israel Independence Reconnecting the 500,000(!) Israelis living in America

Reconnecting the 500,000(!) Israelis living in America

E-mail Print PDF

Sagi BalashaIT used to be that the enterprise known as Zionism was pretty much a one-way street — Jews from Europe, Asia, America and elsewhere packing up and heading off to Israel to build the Jewish state.

Nearly seven decades after Israel was founded, Zionism is now a two-way thoroughfare.

For a whole range of reasons, Israelis are heading the other way, leaving their country of origin for what they perceive to be greener pastures.

Especially in the US.

According to the Israeli-American Council, a relatively new organization dedicated to building bridges between these expatriate Israelis and their native country — as well as their American Jewish brethren — there may be as many as 500,000-800,000 Israelis and “Israeli-Americans” living in the US today.

When one considers that the American Jewish Yearbook estimates the US Jewish population at five to six-and-a-half million (depending on how “Jewish” is defined), the community’s Israeli component may be an amazing 10%, or even higher.

The IAC fears that this substantial population is largely unconnected to the general American Jewish community, as well as to Israel itself, and its goal is to build and maintain bridges between them.

Sagi Balasha, the IAC’s Chief Executive Officer, told the Intermountain Jewish News in an online interview last week that the organization “works to create a community among the estimated 500,000 and 800,000 Israelis and Israeli-Americans, respectively, living in the United States, many of whom tend to be uninvolved in the organized Jewish American community.

“Connecting our community to Israel is a pillar of our mission, especially given their inherent love for the State of Israel, and the community’s great potential to be a strategic asset to the State of Israel.”

A foundational premise of the IAC, Balasha says, is to be non-judgmental.

This contrasts with the traditional view of ardent Zionists who often referred to Israelis who left Israel as yordim, “those who go down” from Israel, based on the Hebrew word for descent, yerida, the opposite of aliyah, to “rise.”

“We do not encourage Israelis to move away from Israel,” Balasha explains, “and we support a number of opportunities for Israeli-Americans to go to Israel.

“The fact however is that over half a million Israeli expats and their children live in the United States, and today make up a substantial percentage of the Jewish community in America.”

The rest of this article is available in the May 2, 2014 IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2014 13:00 )  

IJN e-Edition

This is only a taste! Get full access to the IJN via our e-Edition, only $14.04 for IJN Print subscribers.

E-Edition subscribers get access to a complete digital replica of the IJN, which includes all special sections.

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Obama defends FAA’s temporary ban on Israel flights (video)

Ami Eden The FAA lifted its ban on flights to Israel late Wednesday. But on Thursday President Obama was still facing questions on the issue. Check out his comments to CNBC: ... [Link]

Almost 80 years after ordination, the first woman rabbi finally gets her due

Julie Wiener Forgotten for almost half a century, Rabbi Regina Jonas inspires a tour and tribute featuring America’s first female Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox rabbis. ... [Link]

First female rabbi, Regina Jonas, commemorated at Terezin site

mbrodsky A memorial plaque to Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi, was unveiled at the former Nazi concentration camp Terezin in the Czech Republic. ... [Link]

Two Palestinians killed in mass protest north of Jerusalem

Ron Kampeas At least two Palestinians were killed at a mass demonstration at a crossing north of Jerusalem being held against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. ... [Link]

Israeli soccer team attacked in Austria

Marcy Oster Members of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team were attacked on the field in Austria by pro-Palestinian protesters. ... [Link]

West Bank Rabbi Dov Lior: Jewish law permits destruction of Gaza

Marcy Oster Rabbi Dov Lior, a leading West Bank rabbi who endorsed a book justifying the killing of non-Jews, issued a religious ruling saying that Jewish law permits the destruction of Gaza to keep southern Isra... [Link]

Presidents Conference convening national solidarity day for Israel

Ron Kampeas The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is convening an Israel solidarity event in Washington for Jewish leaders. ... [Link]

IDF soldiers arrested for leaking casualty information on WhatsApp

Marcy Oster Three Israeli soldiers were arrested for using the text-messaging service WhatsApp to leak information on Gaza casualties. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942 • •