What does Israel mean to Young American-Zionists? - Notes from On-Going Research


UA Hillel
1245 East 2nd Street
Tucson , AZ


Mon, 02/22/2016 - 4:00pm to Fri, 08/12/2022 - 2:13am

The State of Israel and its underlying political ideology, Zionism, are sources of political and cultural identification among many young Jewish adults in the US. Recent surveys,however, suggest that increasing numbers of those young American Jews who are not religiously Orthodox tend to display a weak attachment to Israel, or even disaffection, at least until they marry and build families.  Bucking this possible trend, some non-orthodox American Jews of "Generation Y" (18-30 year-olds) display a strong attachment, even identification with Zionism and Israel even when they have no familial connections to the country.  What accounts for this phenomenon of strong attachment? What do Zionism and Israel mean to these subjects, and why?  This talk will address these questions on the basis of on-going qualitative research among Jewish-American "millenials" from the Conservative, Reform, non-denominational, and other non-Orthodox streams of American Jewish life.

Prof. David Graizbord is an Associate Professor of Judaic Studies at The Arizona Center for Judaic Studies.  Prof. Graizbord is a historian of early modern and modern Jews. To date his research has focused mostly on the Western Sephardi Diaspora of the seventeenth century. In particular, Graizbord's writing approaches questions of religious, social, and political identity as these questions shaped the lives of so-called "New Christians" or "conversos" from the Iberian Peninsula who became Jews in exile.  He has also written about Judeophobia and the culture of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions; marginality and dissidence in Jewish and Ibero-Catholic societies of the seventeenth century; ethnicity and religion among Sephardim from medieval times to the 1700s; and converso trading networks in the Atlantic. More recently he has begun to research Jewish ethnic identity and Zionism among American Jews. He teaches undergraduate courses on Jewish civilization, medieval and early modern Jewish history, modern Jewish history, Jewish mysticism (its history and principal phenomena), the Spanish Inquisition, and, occasionally, the history of Antisemitism.  His repertoire of graduate courses--offered primarily to students in the History Department's Division for Late Medieval and Reformation Studies--focuses on early modern Jewish history and Ibero-Catholic history.  Graizbord serves as Program Leader of the UofA's faculty-led Summer Study Abroad Program, "Israel in Arizona" (Hebrew University, Jerusalem).

This lecture is part of the Sally and Ralph Duchin Campus Lecture Series, and is free an open to the public.  Special thanks to the the University of Arizona Hillel Foundation for hosting us at 4pm on February 22nd, 2016.