Israeli-American Identity

by Sharona Durry

The estimated 30,000 Israelis in the Greater Philadelphia area are expatriates who are scattered in disparate cultural and geographical communities. PhillyIsrael has aimed for many years to coordinate and streamline these groups, connecting them through a single, central platform that welcomes everyone.

The concept of Israeli-American identity officially emerged in 2012 when the Jewish Agency understood that it has to include the Israelis in the diaspora as part of the Jewish people. The Jewish Agency operates in the spirit of its vision of “guaranteeing the future of the global Jewish people, united and committed with a strong Israel at its center,” by means of developing and devising solutions for the challenges of the younger generation in the Diaspora. The Jewish Agency plans to develop a relationship with the community of Israelis living outside Israel, with an emphasis on strengthening the Jewish-Israeli identity of young Israelis being raised abroad and their connection to Israel and their local Jewish community.
This change represented a major shift in approach. For decades, Israelis living abroad had been viewed as displaced citizens, who for the sake of Israel, must be nudged back home. As the expat community grew in wealth, influence, and numbers (exceeding one million Israelis worldwide) perceptions changed.
The new reality is focusing on the trend of viewing Israeli emigration as an asset. The Israelis in the diaspora are now embraced as “ambassadors.”
If the Israelis do not or will not continue to live in Israel, who are they? What happens to their children’s and grandchildren’s identity? How do their families deal with the “Tridentity” complex (Israeli-American-Jewish)?

Join us on May 13th, 2014 at Congregation Beth Am Israel as we mark PhillyIsrael’s 9th anniversary and Israel’s 66th Independence Day for an evening that brings the Israeli community together to discuss these issues openly.
Community members of all ages will share stories of their life experiences and more.
Our guest speaker is Tova Birnbaum, The Central Shlicha, Director of the North America Region of the World Zionist Organization. Ms. Birnbaum will lead a conversation based on a traditional and modern Jewish and Israeli text about our role as parents in shaping the next generation’s identity.