Jewish Journal

Will Facebook Save Israel / American-Jewish Relations

by Pini Herman

June 20, 2011 | 12:01 am

How shall I say it, not that young Jews don’t care about Israel, but it usually doesn’t show up as a blip on their radar screens. Major worry for major American Jewish organizations.  Same goes for Israel’s young’s unconcern about American Jewry. Not much worry for major Israeli organizations, unless the Israeli young emigrate to America.

Israelis spend the most time in the world on social networking sites.  46% of Israel’s population spent an average of about 11 hours a month surfing social networking sites on the Internet.  From the responses of an non-random informal survey on the Demographic Duo blog, racking up hours surfing social networking sites is shared by American Jews with our Israeli sisters and brethren.

My friend Judith, in Tel Aviv, just happened to circulated a petition on non-distribution of Holocaust reparation funds to Holocaust victims on Facebook to all her friends , including me. (Use Google Translate if your Hebrew is rusty or non-existent to read the petition.) How many poorly fed Israeli Holocaust survivors die in the day it takes to fly to Israel while supping on kosher airline meals. It’s not something fundraisers want to talk about, undistributed funds for the poor.

How do we get our Jewish leaders off the jet plane junket circuit to Israel and get them to go green by staying home.  Instead of racking up unnecessary extra air mileage, we should be utilizing server racks and connecting to individual Israelis.  How many Birthright travelers have “friended” an Israeli they met on their trip on their Facebook account?

Pini Herman serves as President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area.

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Bruce Phillips is Professor of Sociology and Jewish Communal Studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles. He has conducted Jewish population...

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