Like members of a cosmic and extended family, the Amerian Jewish community and the nation of Israel are linked by ties both of blood and religion.
For nearly two years, a task force of 33 scholars from both countries has been studying this relationship, and report of the deliberations is being published by the American Jewish Committee, which sponsored the study.
The task force started and ended with the premise that the two most visible manifestations of Judaism today - Israel and the American Jewish community - are essential to each other.
"There is a consensus that the future of the American Jewish community and of Israel are inextricably interwoven as major constituents of the Jewish people," the report states.
The task force looked at political, economic, health and welfare, educational, cultural and religious dimensions of Israeli and American Jewish relations,with political ties acknowledged as those with "the highest visibility and . . . the locus of the most intense concern."
At times this political relationship is "dominated by concern with Israel security," the report notes. This concern of American Jews with Israel's security in turn gives to charges from within the American Jewish community that it "tends to be monolothic and uncritical in its support of Israel, with insufficient attention to minority opinions."
The report urges that those American Jewish agencies that "formulate and articulate American Jewish communal concern on foreign policy issues in the Middle East" be particularly sensitive at this point.
Agencies such as the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and others should "adopt measures to enhance their capacity to formulate responsible communal policy upon consultation with all segments of communal opinion," the report said.
While suggesting thay the American Jewish community should close ranks where political questions involving Israel's security are concerned, it should at the same time give a hearing to all viewpoints, "for in a world of fallible human beings, the minority view may be the correct one."
On the educational and cultural front, Israel was portrayed as a "major instrument for Jewish education" for both youths and adults in the American Jewish Community.
The report estimated that "one-seventh of American Jews have made a trip to Israel, often as part of Jewish self-education.
Whether the focus of the American Jew's trip to Israel was an archeological dig, a student summer in a Galilean kibbutz or a tour of Tel Aviv night clubs and street cafes, the encounter with the homeland, the task force asserted, was educational.
"The need of the American Jewish community for new ways to revitalize Jewish education is a significant factor in its willingness to develop an Israeli experience as an important aspect of its educational system," the report said.
The study noted that both Conservative and Reform rebbinical schools in this country "require one year of study in Israel for all students. This requirement has already had a significant impact on the training of American rabbis and their relationship to Israel." The report said "it can be assumed" that most Orthodox rabbinical candidates undergo similar training in Israel, and the same is true for "many training programs for a career in communal service or social work," the study found.
The report pegged the massive infusion of philanthropic aid to Israel by American Jews at about $368 million a year for the first half of this decade, byt noted that private American investment in Israel has not kept pace.It called for "much greater economic interaction between the American Jewish community and Israel" and for "the development, primarily by Israelis, of a representative and independent voice for the Israeli business community" to encourtage such investment.
The task force also proposed that American and other non-Israeli Jews develop a "voluntary reserve" or skill bank for Israel. "Such a reserve," the study suggested, "would consist of professionals with needed skills, who would be registered in Israel and on call for specific assignments of limited duration, particularly in time of emergency."
In the area of religion, the task force noted Israel's view of Orthodox Judaism as the only officially recognized expression of the faith, tracing that situation to "coalition politics" in which an Orthodox political party has an important bloc of votes."
At the same time, it acknowledged "the small but significant growth of Conservative and Reform congregations in Israel," and called these largely American-backed efforts "developments that may set the stage for efforts to legitimize religious pluralism."
Recognizing that non-Orthodox reliyious groups "feel they are denied full religious participation in Israel," the task force proposed aninternational conference "to explore in depth the religious issue.