We cannot forget that half of Jewish Israelis descend from Arab countries. “Of course it has impact, of course it is part of our lives,” says columnist and author Ben Dror Yemini. He is “optimistic about the future of Israel.” Jews from Arab countries, he says, “are doing better” than they did in the past. Gaps in education and income between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, which used to be wide, are narrowing.
According to findings of surveys conducted by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), about 43% percent of all Israeli Jews identify themselves as Ashkenazi, while 41% identify as Mizrachi or Sephardi (16% say “mixed”). Mizrahi Jews tend to be more traditional, religiously speaking, and more rightwing, politically speaking. The conversation with Yemini, that I am pleased to present here, is the seventh in a series of conversations conducted with Israeli intellectuals to discuss the findings and analysis presented in a new book: #IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution. This discussion focuses on Mizrahi Jews and their place in Israel’s Jewish culture and society.
The book #IsraeliJudaism, Portrait of a Cultural Revolution, is based on the work of JPPI, and was coauthored by Shmuel Rosner, a senior fellow at JPPI and Prof. Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University. The English version of the book was published recently and provides us with an opportunity to both present the unique nature of Israeli Judaism to the broader world, and to discuss its future and the implications for world Jewry.
In the coming weeks JPPI will present more conversations about Israeli traditionalism, nationality, pluralism, ethnicity and more. The first conversation featured Prof. Ruth Gavison and focused on Israeliness and Jewishness. The second, on Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, featured activist and philanthropist Daniel Goldman. In the third, on Israeli secularity, we hosted historian Prof. Aviad Kleinberg of Tel Aviv University. The fourth featured Dr. Ran Baratz, who spoke about Israeli nationality. The fifth, which featured Dr. Moshe Hellinger, discussed the state of religious-Zionism. The sixth hosted Prof. Tsvia Walden who spoke about progressive Judaism in Israel.
We invite TOI readers to try a short questionnaire prepared by Prof. Camil Fuchs. Once you have answered all the questions, you will be able to see where you are on the map of Israeli Judaism and compare yourself to Israeli Jews by political affiliation, religious affiliation, age and ethnicity (for the survey, click here).
#IsraeliJudaism is a research project of The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), an independent professional policy planning think tank incorporated as a private non-profit company in Israel (founded by JAFI). The mission of the Institute is to contribute to ensuring the thriving of the Jewish People and the Jewish civilization by engaging in professional strategic thinking and planning on issues of primary concern to world Jewry. Located in Jerusalem, JPPI takes a global approach to the Jewish People and provides decision makers in Israel and the Diaspora with action-oriented policy recommendations.