Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Thursday,
Jul 31st
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

Jewish groups file briefs in Jerusalem passport case

Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish groups have filed friend of the court briefs in a Supreme Court case considering whether Americans born in Jerusalem may list “Israel” as their birthpla... [Link]

Weinberg Foundation awards emergency grants for Israel

Anthony Weiss One of the largest Jewish foundations in the United States awarded$700,000 in emergency grants to Israeli nonprofits to assist in their response to the recent conflict with Hamas in Gaza. ... [Link]

Elsewhere: Hamas’ hospital HQ, Virginia pol’s ulpan, understanding metzitzah b’peh

Miriam Moster JTA rounds up noteworthy items from around the Web. ... [Link]

Five Latin American nations pull envoys to Israel since Gaza conflict start

Ron Kampeas El Salvador is the fifth Latin American nation to pull its ambassador from Israel since the launch of Israel’s operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. ... [Link]

$540K judgment for Chicago cop in anti-Semitic harassment case

Anthony Weiss A Jewish Chicago police officer was awarded a $540,000 judgment against a former superior who allegedly taunted him for years with anti-semitic and racist remarks. ... [Link]

Shell strikes crowded Gaza market

Marcy Oster At least 17 people were killed when a mortar shell struck a crowded Gaza market. ... [Link]

Senate backs Israel’s goals in Gaza conflict

Ron Kampeas The U.S. Senate unanimously supported Israel’s goals in its conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a posture that distances the body from President Obama’s call for an immediate and unconditional ... [Link]

Three IDF soldiers killed uncovering tunnel entrance in Gaza

Marcy Oster Three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed while uncovering the entrance to a tunnel shaft in a home in Gaza. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com