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.