Strengthening Israel-Diaspora Ties
A focus on the issues that unite and divide our communities
The U.S. and Israel enjoy an unparalleled special relationship based on common democratic values, a commitment to Arab-Israeli peace, and support for Israel as the national Jewish homeland. While this relationship remains strong, there is a growing divide between the Jewish communities in each society caused by political, religious, and demographic tensions as well as a simple lack of knowledge about one another. Maintaining both the U.S. and Israel’s strong relationship and the health and vigor of the American Jewish community requires attention to maintaining and strengthening the relationship between American Jewry and Israel.
AJC’s William Petschek Contemporary Jewish Life Department (CJL) focuses on key issues facing the Israel-Diaspora relationship. Among the subjects we address are education and literacy in each community about the other, religious pluralism in Israel, American Jewish and Israeli political attitudes, and the need to ensure that the special bond between the two nations endures for decades to come.
The department is led by Dr. Laura Shaw Frank, who brings nearly twenty years of experience in Israel education and Israel-Diaspora relations to AJC’s work. Dr. Shaw Frank, together with CJL’s Assistant Director Dr. Alexandra Herzog, pioneers AJC’s programming and policy initiatives on Israel education in America, Diaspora education in Israel, religious pluralism in Israel, Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, and strengthening the ties of younger Jewish Americans to Israel.
A major rift in the Israel-Diaspora relationship concerns the lack of official recognition of religious pluralism in Israel. This issue could have profound consequences for the relationship between Israel and American Jews, who are overwhelmingly non-Orthodox.
In response to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s growing monopoly over personal status issues in Israel, AJC launched the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC), a wall-to-wall coalition of American and Israeli individuals and organizations advocating greater religious pluralism in Israel. J-REC seeks to strengthen Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state and ensure its ties with global Jewry by securing rights for the non-Orthodox in Israel. LEARN MORE
Leaders For Tomorrow (LFT) equips high school students with the tools to advocate on behalf of the Jewish people and Israel. LFT ensures that tomorrow’s American Jewish leaders feel connected with Israel today, and have the facts in their pocket to stand up for Israel not only on the college campus, but on a global stage.
At a time when the next generation’s commitment to Israel and Jewish peoplehood is under question, AJC’s unique educational and leadership opportunities prepare teens to become champions of their heritage, the Jewish homeland, and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. LEARN MORE