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Support for Israel is tumbling– even among young Orthodox Jews

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Modern Orthodox Jews are among Israel’s strongest backers in the U.S. Think Jared Kushner. Well, the generational split that is occurring everywhere in American Jewry is taking place among the Modern Orthodox, with a minority of young Jews saying they “actively support the Jewish state”.

The New York Jewish Week has a report on the survey of the Modern Orthodox, written by Hannah Dreyfus. Modern Orthodox represent 4 percent of the U.S. Jewish community, and the survey got 4000 respondents.

One of the study’s most concerning findings, experts say, is a decrease in emotional connection and active support of Israel. While 87 percent of those 55 and older report feeling emotionally connected to Israel, 65 percent of those ages 18 to 34 feel the same way. And while 71 percent of those 55 and older actively support the Jewish state, less than half — 43 percent — of Jews 18 to 34 do the same.

The angle is buried in the New York Jewish Week article. And these are kids who go to Israel! So they’re not all that different from #IfNotNow Jews. Apartheid is just not good for global popularity, and a sea change in middle-age Jewish attitudes (i.e., the establishment) is coming.

“Decreasing political activism on behalf of Israel among the young Modern Orthodox flies in the face of our assumptions,” said [poll consultant Steven] Bayme. The data is particularly unnerving given the common practice among the Modern Orthodox to send high school graduates to Israel for a gap year before beginning college. While decreased attachment to Israel was widely recognized for young people in other denominations — Birthright Israel began trips in 1999 to address the problem — this was “always thought not to be true among the Orthodox,” said Bayme.

The survey also reports a fragmentation of religiosity among the Modern Orthodox. More and more going OTD, “off the derech,” leaving strict faith.

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18 Responses

  1. JeffB
    JeffB on October 1, 2017, 12:25 pm


    Read the article. Very interesting. Though their definition of left orthodoxy includes 16% who didn’t go to Jewish day school, 27% who don’t don tefillin and 34% who don’t believe the torah was given at Sinai. I’d say what we are really looking at is Jews who are Conservative in all but name. Obviously there is overlap. So I’m not sure entirely they are “like the group from which INN draws”. I think we are talking the same group.

    They didn’t ask enough questions about Israel unfortunately. The issues that did bother this group though are indicative of a USA focus: cost of Jewish day school and sexism in shul. The sexism is shul though makes a point again about kotel being a terribly bad policy choice.

    The other graph the article didn’t mention was their “why be orthodox” which again shows a community focus:
    42% orthodox community
    22% shabbat (family & community focus time)
    20% family

    Finally I do think you may be seeing some of what you want to see. On the details page we see stuff like:

    anti-BDS scores 87% strong support and 7% moderate support
    89% want a unified Jerusalem under Israeli control
    71% support more housing in the West Bank (outside of Jerusalem in Jerusalem 78%)
    only 43% would support a negotiated 2SS

    BTW here is a better link to the report:

    • Mooser
      Mooser on October 2, 2017, 4:21 pm

      “Jeff b”, this is what happens when Zionism has no way to compel or coerce Jewish people into taking on the unpleasant tasks necessary to completing the Zionist project.

      Only a matter of time until one of the denominations starts repudiating Zionism.

      • JeffB
        JeffB on October 2, 2017, 11:11 pm


        Only a matter of time until one of the denominations starts repudiating Zionism.

        I seriously doubt it. 87% strong support for anti-BDS activities. I think the intermarriage with Israelis and the slowly rightward shift of Jews erodes anti-Zionism’s potentially ceiling.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on October 3, 2017, 12:10 pm

        ” I think the intermarriage with Israelis and the slowly rightward shift of Jews erodes anti-Zionism’s potentially ceiling.” “Jeff b”

        ROTFLMSJAO! “erodes anti-Zionism’s potentially ceiling” Ho-Kay!

  2. JWalters
    JWalters on October 1, 2017, 7:56 pm

    These are welcome developments.

    According to Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, a member of Brooklyn’s Satmar Hasidim fundamentalist branch of Orthodox Judaism, some segments of the Orthodox community have a pedophilia problem akin to that of the Catholic Church.
    “The Child-Rape Assembly Line”

    The Orthodox Jews drive the so-called “settler” movement that dominates Israeli politics. Perhaps the pathological politics of the “settlers” and the Israeli government have more immediate traumatic roots.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on October 2, 2017, 1:01 pm

      ,” some segments of the Orthodox community”

      There is no better way to make good Israeli Zionists than child abuse. Leaves kids with a shameful secret, and angry.

  3. JosephA
    JosephA on October 1, 2017, 9:39 pm
    • wondering jew
      wondering jew on October 2, 2017, 1:04 am

      A modicum of knowledge about differentiating between ultra orthodox and modern orthodox would be of value.
      If you are imagining a future some familiarity with the people involved might allow imagination with some basis in reality. If your vision of the solution is cataclysm (major war) based, then you have less need for familiarity.
      I don’t think, “think jared kushner” is particularly effective journalism/education, the red flags his name evokes will cloud the minds of most readers and seems like a judgment rather than description.
      If I had to pick the two outstanding differences between the two groups, I would pick television and college. Modern orthodox generally do not limit access to the media. College might be practical oriented, but respect for science and also art and social science is widespread. Ultra- limits media access and at times tolerates college for practical reasons.
      More apparent is the suppression of women which is viewed differently in the two branches.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on October 2, 2017, 4:24 pm

        “yonah”, did it ever occur to you that it isn’t the non-Jewish world’s responsibility to make our distinctions for us, just as we would like them made?

  4. Boomer
    Boomer on October 2, 2017, 9:35 am

    Support is tumbling? I dunno. I don’t see much evidence of that in Congress, or in the Trump administration, on in the NYT.

    “In a moment when being Jewish in America suddenly feels threatened in a way it hasn’t in decades, the idea of a distinctly Jewish novel — a concept that has persisted in literature since the turn of the 20th century — has become increasingly urgent. Three fiction writers and one cartoonist ruminate on Jewish identity and its relationship to Israel and the U.S. in 2017.”

  5. Misterioso
    Misterioso on October 2, 2017, 12:28 pm

    “ADL Campus guide describes how to block events about Palestine”

    Sept. 13/17

    “The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) has just launched a new initiative for college students called ‘ADL CAMPUS: Tools for Dealing with Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Incidents on Campus.’

    “This resource contains much useful information about addressing anti-Semitism, endorses such valuable principles as freedom of speech and non-violence, and recommends that students talk to others who may hold different perspectives.

    “It also, however, contains some deeply problematic components for anyone who believes that human rights and justice should apply to all people without exception.

    “Unfortunately, the ADL does not share this belief.  While it announces prominently, ‘We protect the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment to all,’ in reality the ADL supports Israeli injustice against Palestinians.”

  6. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan on October 2, 2017, 2:13 pm

    Modern Orthodox is an oxymoron. Danny Danon is a Moron.

  7. hophmi
    hophmi on October 2, 2017, 5:37 pm

    There’s a lot of unpacking to do with a survey like this, because there is almost nothing examining the Modern Orthodox community in any detail. Most surveys tend to lump Orthodoxy into one basket, and they ignore the major differences between more fervently orthodox Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews.

    In any case, the engagement level is still quite high. As far as active support, I’d like to see what that means. The 55 and older generation is the generation of the 1967 and 1973 wars and also the generation with the most time on its hands. It’s natural that it would have a higher rate of active support than a younger MO population that not only has less to be directly active about, but also has no time, because many are working as professionals of one kind or another, and because, unlike their parents, they’re making aliyah in significant numbers.

    The big thing Phil (and many others) are missing is that while there may be lower levels of active support amongst younger American MO Jews, there are also many, many more MO Jews than ever before making aliyah both for ideological reasons and especially because of the prohibitively high price of day school education. That has had the effect of cutting a substantial part of the heart out of American Modern Orthodoxy.

    As far as OTD, the numbers overall are pretty stable and the definition of what OTD is isn’t clear.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on October 2, 2017, 6:47 pm

      “and especially because of the prohibitively high price of day school education. That has had the effect of cutting a substantial part of the heart out of American Modern Orthodoxy.”

      Judaism is a very expensive religion. The 2008 recession hit Judaism hard.
      But don’t worry “Hophmi”, everybody can easily see the high cost of a Jewish day school education.

      • hophmi
        hophmi on October 3, 2017, 11:24 am

        Sorry, Mooser, did you have something to say? It seems not.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on October 3, 2017, 12:13 pm

        Simply agreeing with you “Hophmi”. Judaism is a very expensive religion. Not everybody can afford it.

  8. wondering jew
    wondering jew on October 4, 2017, 12:32 pm

    In the long term, these numbers indicate the erosion of support for Israel among American Jews has been paralleled by an erosion of support among modern Orthodox Jews. But in the short range what do these erosions add up to? The primary pressure on the American congress and on candidates for all public offices from city councils to presidents of the us, to support Israel, are financial and not electoral. These erosions cited here will not change the financial calculus. So what difference does it make?

    • Mooser
      Mooser on October 4, 2017, 1:42 pm

      ” The primary pressure on the American congress and on candidates for all public offices from city councils to presidents of the us, to support Israel, are financial and not electoral”

      And there will always be rich American Jews to support Israel by bribing politicians. What could go wrong? And since non-Jews are inherently corrupt, nobody can blame Jews for corrupting them.

      Oh, I forgot to mention that the present older generation of affluent Jews which support Israel has stopped aging

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