This past week the Jerusalam Post ran a column by Michael Freund that struck a chord with me and I’m certain, with other American-born Israelis as well. Here Freund makes a bold statement: “ Leafing through the daily Hebrew newspapers or watching the evening news, it is easy to forget that there is a big, wide Jewish world out there.”
The point is well-taken. The Israeli media seems to believe that Diaspora Jewry either doesn’t exist or lives in a realm that’s both distant and without much of an impact on Israelis.
As recent history reflects, nothing could be further from the truth. Without the devotion and determination of world Jewry, there would be no Jewish state today. What’s more, the current seismic shifts in national allegiances demonstrate clearly that our communities on both sides of the ocean will need to understand and support each other to secure a Jewish future for our children and grandchildren. Like Freund, we maintain that “our future as a nation is linked to the immutable relationship that exists between Israel and Jews abroad.”
This is the guiding principle behind Ruderman Fellows, a program sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation in cooperation with Brandeis University. Each spring, we bring members of the Knesset to the United States to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of American Jews, their experiences, values and priorities.
This program changes minds and hearts. It also echoes Freund’s conclusion: “… unless we actively nurture our connection, learning more about one another, we run the risk of drifting apart. And that must not be allowed to happen.”
— Jay Ruderman