WESTPORT – According to several recent studies, secular Israelis living abroad find it difficult to pass on “Israeliness” to their children. Prof. Lilach Lev Ari, head of the Oranim Academic College of Education Department of Sociology in northern Israel, has made a professional career of researching communities of her fellow countrymen living abroad. Her conclusion: an identity built solely on “Israeliness” does not easily hold up in the Diaspora. A survey conducted this year by the Israeli American Council found a 17-percent intermarriage rate among the children of Israeli expatriates living in the U.S. for 10 years or more who continue to self-identify as “Israeli” or “American Israeli.”
A new initiative sponsored by the Westport-based Israelis-in-CT hopes to stanch the assimilation. Designed for children of Israelis in preschool through eighth grade, the program will include a range of cultural, social, arts, and holiday-themed activities, presented in English and Hebrew.
“There is currently no program in Connecticut for Israeli children to come together to celebrate and enjoy their Israeli culture,” says Westport resident Relly Coleman, founder and moderator of Israelis-in-CT. “We hope to fill this void and give second- and third-generation Israelis the opportunity to be part of a kehila [community] of children who are not just Jewish but also share their common Israeli heritage.”
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