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Jerusalem and the Jewish People: Unity and Division – Interim Report

The connection of non-Israeli Jews to Jerusalem is strong. “It’s the center of our history – next year in Jerusalem,” a participant in the Washington seminar explained.[1] Many of these Jews feel a sense of ownership as they think about it (“I know I do not have the right to feel it is mine because I don’t live there – yet I do!” a seminar discussant in Ann Arbor said). Many voiced their perspectives on the city in emotional terms. We asked Dialogue participants to coin slogans meant to strengthen the connection of Jerusalem to world Jewry, and many proposed taglines such as “Jerusalem – Welcome Home,” and “Jerusalem – Our City.” Half “completely” agreed with the statement “When visiting Jerusalem I feel at home,” and 30 percent more “somewhat” agreed with this statement. A Dialogue participant in Australia described his feelings this way: “I love the culture of Jerusalem, I would love to buy an apartment around the German Colony and spend six months of the year there. I could walk the streets all day. It feels safe. It feels like home.” A participant in Zurich commented: “Jerusalem is like an old spouse:  she is not as beautiful as she once was, but she still means so very much to me.”

In fact, these highly-connected Jews ranked their level of attachment to Jerusalem higher than Jewish Israelis did.[2] Among Jews in Israel (Israeli Jews were polled separately by JPPI), 53 percent said they are “highly connected” to Jerusalem, while among JPPI Dialogue participants – Jewish leaders and highly engaged Jews – 70 percent feel “highly connected” to Jerusalem. Among Jews in Israel, almost 1 in 10 said they are “not at all connected” to Jerusalem. Among JPPI Dialogue participants only 1 percent said they were “not at all connected.”

Among Diaspora Jews, as in Israel, connection to Jerusalem varies. It is stronger for religious Jews than for secular Jews, it is stronger among Orthodox Jews than Reform Jews. In Israel, based on JPPI’s survey of Israelis, it is stronger among Jews defining themselves as “right wing” than among Jews who self-identify as “left wing.” On a scale of 1 – 4, where 1 indicates a weak connection and 4 indicates a strong connection to Jerusalem, the average ranking by “totally secular” Israeli Jews was 2.8, while the average for religious and Haredi Jews was 3.7 and 3.8 respectively.[3]

Jews around the world are highly connected to Israel, as has been shown in many previous reports and surveys. But this year’s Dialogue shows that participants’ main nexus of connection to Israel is Jerusalem. When asked to rank their connection to Jerusalem compared to Tel Aviv, for example, Israeli Jews – but even more notably, non-Israeli Jews – rank their connection to Jerusalem much higher. For Israeli Jews, Jerusalem has a slight average connection advantage over Tel Aviv (3.1 vs. 3.0). But for Dialogue participants elsewhere in the world the gap is significant, as the graph bellow shows. Note that while 70 percent of Dialogue participants ranked their level of connection to Jerusalem as “highly connected,” a much lower 38 percent ranked their connection to Tel Aviv the same way.

[1] This interim report does not include full source citations. Full citations will appear JPPI’s final report, including specific references to quotes (by community and discussion). Basic participating discussion group details can be found at the end of this report.

[2] It is important to emphasize that the two surveys we show here are not comparable in a statistical sense. The Israel survey utilized a scientific sample of Israel’s Jews. It was conducted by Panels Politics and the findings were based on a relatively large sample of 1,300 respondents, with a 5.6% margin of error for Arabs and 3.1% for Jews. More details on the survey here: http://jppi.org.il/new/en/article/english-2017-pluralism-index-survey-results/#.WRF5_VN97Vo. The survey of Jews around the world represents the average views of a self-selected group (see previous footnote).

[3] 35% of Jewish Israelis self-identify as “totally secular.” 10% are religious and 9% are Haredi. See: http://jppi.org.il/new/en/article/english-2017-pluralism-index-survey-results/#.WRF5_VN97Vo

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