Jewish Giving to Israel is Changing

In order to support Israel and its causes many American Jews donate a large amounts to charity through large grant-making organizations. This way they support not only Israeli state but also Israeli society and they are also donating for Jewish causes outside of Israel. But in the last decade the amount of support and the proportion of institutional giving to Israeli causes has fallen. American Jews have long been a major source of philanthropic support to Israel and collective donations and lobbying efforts were constantly organized by a network of Jewish fundraising and advocacy groups. Large nonprofit organizations, like the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee, obtain major donations from Jewish fundraising groups and then distribute them to smaller, local nonprofits.

According to Religionnews.com, in order to understand Jewish giving to Israel, they mined data using the Foundation Search database, which provided them with large amounts of digitized financial information. In overall, the proportion of Jewish giving going to Israeli causes as a share of donations is decreasing, meanwhile giving to Jewish causes outside Israel is rising. In fact, only 9 percent of organized Jewish giving was allocated to Israeli causes in 2015. In comparison, 58 percent supported non-Jewish causes and 32 percent backed Jewish causes outside Israel. The conclusion is that organized Jewish giving is not decreasing, but they choose to donate to other causes rather than those connected to Israel.

Different factors determine this change, like demographic and social changes for example and diminishing perception of Israel as being in need. Younger Jews, who are shaped by development in recent decades, have different historical memories and priorities. They are familiar with Israel only as a Middle Eastern superpower and they no longer perceive Israel as a young, struggling society in constant need of cash infusions from its wealthy and more established American Jewish relatives, like American Jews born during the first half of the twentieth century who were touched by memories of a young and vulnerable Jewish state.

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There is also one important reason connected with religion. American Jewry identifies with liberal causes and liberal versions of religion, and it finds it increasingly hard to identify with Israel whose politics and religious preferences are hardly in line with today’s progressive views. As long as American Jews become more and more liberal while Israel remains conservative, there is a big chance that new generations will not carry on the family tradition of supporting Israeli causes.

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