Under a third of Israelis in U.S. send children to Jewish day schools, Israeli-American Council finds • Survey also finds 17% intermarriage for children of Israelis living in the U.S. for over a decade, double the rate of their parents' generation.
A new study by the Israeli-American Council has found that most Israeli residents of the U.S. do not send their children to Jewish day schools.
The council commissioned the survey to examine how Israeli residents of the U.S. feel about their connection to Judaism and Israel and how those bonds might shift over time.
The first-of-its-kind survey on the Israeli-American community, titled "Israelis and Israeli-Americans Living in the United States: Perceptions, Attitudes and Behavior," surveyed some 1,660 Israelis in 40 states and was released on Tuesday. In an effort to measure changes in attitudes and lifestyle over time, it divided them into two groups: those who had lived in the U.S. for less than 10 years and those who had lived there for over a decade. The survey was conducted by Midgam, a leading polling company in Israel, with the help of the Immigrant Absorption Ministry and several Israeli-American organizations.
When asked about the enrollment of their children in Jewish day schools, 53 percent of those in both groups responded that they do not send any of their children to Jewish day schools or preschools. Some 29% of those who have been in the U.S. for less than 10 years do so for all their children, as do 32% of those who have lived in the U.S. for over a decade.
Seventeen percent of the children of Israelis who have been living in the U.S. for over a decade are intermarried. The number is higher than their parents' generation, which had an intermarriage rate of 8%. The overall intermarriage rate of American Jews is at 58%.
The study also found that among those in both groups who attend synagogue -- around half of the Israeli-American community surveyed -- about 44% go to Orthodox synagogues. Some 24% of those who have lived there less than 10 years attend Conservative synagogues and 22% attend Reform congregations. For those who have lived in the U.S. over 10 years and attend a synagogue, 33% said they go to Conservative synagogues and 17% attend Reform synagogues.
According to the survey, about 51% of Israelis living in the U.S. for less than 10 years socialize mostly with other Israelis, while for those who have been living in the U.S. over 10 years the number drops to 33%, indicating greater integration with American society.
"The purpose of the survey was to deepen our understanding of the landscape of today's Israeli-American communities so that we can better provide services they need to fulfill our mission of strengthening the Jewish identity of the next generation and building bridges to the Jewish American community. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first survey of the Israeli-American community nationwide that has ever been conducted," said IAC Chairman Shawn Evenhaim.
The demographics of the Israeli-American community were also measured in the survey, which found that some 20% of Israelis in the U.S. surveyed were aged 16-34, 44% were aged 35-44, 15% were aged 45-64, and 11% were above the age of 65.
According to Midgam, before this survey there was no significant data on Israelis who live in the U.S. The study is not conclusively representative, but because it surveyed a significant number of Israeli-Americans, it does give a good sense of community norms and trends.
"It is the first significant step to learn about tendencies of the community as a whole," said Dr. Mina Tzemach, Migdam's lead pollster. "The bottom line is that the results might not be perfect, but the survey presents for the first time a picture of this community."