Support for Israel is tumbling– even among young Orthodox Jews

The wall at Bethlehem, photo by "Delayed Gratification" on Flickr

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.