The Jewish Advocate has a post-mortem on the Ruderman Fellows Program (subscription required), a recent event sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation which brought six members of Knesset to Boston and New York, in the hopes that they could learn more about American Jews and their attitudes and concerns.
The event was a success, showing the MKs a side of Judaism to which they had never been exposed, and to an American way of thinking:
The trip also changed the way [Ronit] Tirosh viewed American Jews, especially younger Jews, she said.
Many Brandeis students told Tirosh of their concerns over human rights in Israel. She said many Israelis are concerned as well, but look at human rights differently. “We share the same values, but not the same way of thinking,” she said. “We are living under threat, and we have to be more suspicious and more precautious. In America you are very, very generous because you have nothing to loose. [sic] You are not living in threat.”
Tirosh also noted a somewhat unexpected benefit of the program:
Before the trip, Tirosh said Ben Simon, who is left-wing, might have attacked Tirosh personally for the bill. Instead, he limited his criticism to the bill itself.
“He said, I know you, I can’t say anything bad about you,” Tirosh recalled.
“The media could make me out to be something I am not, but now [Ben Simon] knows me and he understands me.”
With the US-Israel relationship under intense scrutiny in both nations, the Ruderman Fellows Program comes at a perfect time, and is an important part of the effort to strengthen the bonds between the American Jewish community and Israel.