Israeli Americans
אמריקאים ישראלים (Hebrew)
Israel United States
Total population
(2020 American Community Survey)[1]
Regions with significant populations
New York metropolitan area,[2][3][4][5] Los Angeles metropolitan area, Miami metropolitan area, and other large metropolitan areas
English, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, Russian, Arabic, German
Christianity, Druzism, Islam, other religions, and irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Arab Americans, Jewish Americans

Israeli Americans (Hebrew: אָמֵרִיקָאִים יִשׂרָאֵליִם, romanizedAmeriqaim Yiśraʾelim, or ישראלים-אמריקאים) are Americans who are of full or partial Israeli descent. In this category are those who are Israelis through nationality and/or citizenship. Reflecting Israel's demographics, while the vast majority of the Israeli American populace is Jewish, it is also made up of various ethnic and religious minorities; most notably the ethnic Arab minority, which includes Christians, Druzes, and Muslims, as well as the smaller non-Arab minority ethnic groups.


The number of Israeli Americans in the United States is estimated to be 191,000 according the 2020 US census.[6] Israelis began migrating to the United States shortly after the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948. Thus, during the 1950s, 21,376 Israeli immigrants moved to the US and the 1960s saw 30,911 Israeli immigrants, often seen as the first wave of Israeli immigration to the United States when 52,278 Israelis emigrated to the US according to US Immigration data.[7] A second wave of modest immigration continued with a total of 36,306 Israelis during 1970 to 1979, 43,669 in 1980 to 1989, 41,340 in 1990 to 1999 and 54,801 in 2000 to 2009. Since 2010, Israeli migration to the US has continued at around four thousand per year.


Since the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, and until today, many Israelis emigrated to the United States. The 2000 United States census estimated that nearly 110,000 Israelis lived in the United States back then,[8] while other unsourced estimates say the number is much higher, around 500,000.[9][10] A considerable numbers of Israelis, estimated broadly from 200,000 to three times that figure, have moved abroad in the recent decades (Yerida).[11]

According to statistics from the United States Department of Homeland Security, between 1949 and 2015, about 250,000 Israelis acquired permanent residency in the United States. The statistics did not track those who eventually moved back to Israel.[12] In 2012, a Global Religion and Migration Database constructed by the Pew Research Center showed that there were a total of 330,000 native-born Israelis, including 230,000 Jews, living outside of Israel, in the United States and elsewhere around the world, approximately 4% of Israel's native-born Jewish population.[13][14] Based on current estimates of Israel-born Jewish migrants to the U.S. of 140,000, two thirds of Jewish Israeli native emigrants have settled in the U.S. and the remaining third in Canada, Europe, South America, South Africa and the remainder of the world.

In addition to native-born Israelis and Israelis who originally immigrated to Israel from other countries and then moved on to the United States, there have been American Jews who immigrated to Israel and became Israeli citizens, lived there for a certain period of time, and later returned to the United States. Israeli demographer Yinon Cohen estimated the number of American-born Israelis who had returned to the United States to be between 30,000 and 60,000 by 1990, and between 53,000 and 75,000 in 2000.[15]

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development calculated an 'expatriate rate' of 2.9 persons per thousand, putting Israel in the mid-range of expatriate rates among the 175 OECD countries examined in 2005.[16]

The New York City metropolitan area has now become by far the leading metropolitan gateway for Israeli immigrants legally admitted into the United States, with the Los Angeles metropolitan area now in a distant second place.[17] Within the United States, as of April 2013, Israeli airline El Al operated from John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, both in the New York City metropolitan area, as well as from Los Angeles International Airport. The New York City metropolitan area is home to the largest Jewish community outside Israel, and the city proper contains the largest Jewish community in the world.[18]

In 2009, Steven M. Cohen and Judith Veinstein found that in New York, Jewish Israeli emigrants are highly affiliated with the Jewish community even though community affiliation is low in Israel. Israelis were found to be more connected to Judaism than their American counterparts in terms of synagogue membership and attendance, kashrut observance, participation in Jewish charity events and membership in Jewish community centers, among other indicators used by the study.[19]

In 1982, Pini Herman and David LaFontaine, in a study of Israeli emigrants in Los Angeles, found high levels of Jewish affiliation, Jewish organizational participation and concentration in Jewish neighborhoods by Israeli emigrants. Israeli emigrants who behaved in a comparatively secular manner in Israel tended to behave in a more devoutly Jewish manner in Los Angeles and Israeli emigrants who reported greater Jewish behaviors in Israel tended to engage in Jewish behaviors to a lesser degree in Los Angeles, thus both becoming more 'Americanized' in their Jewish behaviors.[20]

Israelis tend to be disproportionately Jewishly active in their diaspora communities, creating and participating formal and informal organizations, participating in diaspora Jewish religious institutions and sending their children to Jewish education providers at a greater rate than local diaspora Jews.[21]

By generations

Based on the 2013 Pew American Jewry Survey[22] estimate base on Jews by religion/no religion/Jewish background who were born in Israel is 140,000 nationally. American Jews born in Israel had 40 thousand children under age 18 in their US households. Another estimated 170 thousand Jewish adults not born in Israel have at least one parent born in Israel, and these adults have an estimated 200 thousand children under the age of 18 who have at least one Israel-born grandparent. An additional 60 thousand American Jews reported that they had once "lived in Israel."[23]

By state

The U.S. states by Israeli Americans as per the 2000 census:[24]

Population rank
Israeli American
Percent Israeli American
 New York 1 30,164 0.2%
 California 2 24,956 0.1%
 Florida 3 9,511 0.1%
 New Jersey 4 7,939 0.1%
 Massachusetts 5 3,713 0.1%
 Illinois 6 3,557 0.0%
 Pennsylvania 7 3,051 0.0%
 Maryland 8 3,044 0.1%
 Texas 9 2,974 0.0%
 Michigan 10 1,737 0.0%
 Ohio 11 1,640 0.0%
 Connecticut 12 1,387 0.0%
 Georgia (U.S. state) 13 1,149 0.0%
 Washington 14 1,021 0.0%
 Arizona 15 984 0.0%
 Nevada 16 930 0.0%
 Virginia 17 898 0.0%
 Colorado 18 873 0.0%
 North Carolina 19 745 0.0%
 Missouri 20 612 0.0%
 Wisconsin 21 540 0.0%
 Oregon 22 454 0.0%
 South Carolina 23 454 0.0%
 Minnesota 24 432 0.0%
 Indiana 25 363 0.0%
 Tennessee 26 324 0.0%
 New Mexico 27 309 0.0%
 Oklahoma 28 240 0.0%
 Louisiana 29 230 0.0%
 District of Columbia - 229 0.0%
 Utah 30 226 0.0%
 Rhode Island 31 214 0.0%
 Hawaii 32 208 0.0%
 Kansas 33 197 0.0%
 Iowa 34 187 0.0%
 Alabama 35 181 0.0%
 New Hampshire 36 142 0.0%
 Kentucky 37 139 0.0%
 Delaware 38 138 0.0%
 Vermont 39 131 0.0%
 Arkansas 40 103 0.0%
 Mississippi 41 100 0.0%
 Idaho 42 87 0.0%
 Nebraska 43 85 0.0%
 Alaska 44 62 0.0%
 Puerto Rico - 55 0.0%
 Maine 45 45 0.0%
 North Dakota 46 36 0.0%
 West Virginia 47 36 0.0%
 Montana 48 33 0.0%
 South Dakota 49 22 0.0%
 Wyoming 50 7 0.0%

Culture and organizations

Various Israeli-American communities have their own newspapers which are printed in Hebrew. Communities arrange cultural, entertainment and art events (including celebrations of the Israeli independence day which usually takes place in Israeli-American demographic centers), and some have the Israeli Network channel, which consists of a selection of live broadcasts as well as reruns of Israeli television news broadcasts, entertainment programs and Israeli sport events. Hundreds of thousands of spectators view the annual Celebrate Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which touts itself as the world's largest celebration of Israel.[25][26] At the 2017 Celebrate Israel parade in Manhattan, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared the Sunday Shimon Peres Day in New York and announced a new venture to promote cultural heritage tourism between Israel and New York, as Cuomo marched alongside the son of the late Israeli leader.[27]

A variety of Hebrew language websites,[28] newspapers and magazines are published in New York,[29][30][31][32] Los Angeles,[33][34] South Florida, and other U.S. regions.[35] The Israeli Channel along with two other Hebrew-language channels are available via satellite broadcast nationally in the United States.[36] Hebrew language Israeli programming on local television was broadcast in New York and Los Angeles during the 1990s, prior to Hebrew language satellite broadcast. Live performances by Israeli artists are a regular occurrence in centers of Israeli emigrants in the U.S. and Canada with audience attendance often in the hundreds.[37] An Israeli Independence Day Festival has taken place yearly in Los Angeles since 1990 with thousands of Israeli emigrants and American Jews.[38]

In Los Angeles, a Council of Israeli Community was founded in 2001.[39] In 2007, an Israel Leadership Council (ILC) was also organized in Los Angeles, later it was renamed Israeli-American Council, and it has been active in supporting activities for Israel, most recently in 2008, it sponsored with the local Jewish Federation and Israeli consulate a concert in support for the embattled population suffering rocket attacks of Sderot, Israel where the three frontrunners for the U.S. president, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John McCain greeted the attendees by video and expressed their support for the residents of Sderot. An Israeli Business Network of Beverly Hills has existed since 1996.[40] The Israeli-American Study Initiative (IASI), a start-up project based at the UCLA International Institute, is set out to document the lives and times of Israeli Americans—initially focusing on those in Los Angeles and eventually throughout the United States.[41]

Economic contributions

According to CNN, Israeli companies are establishing entrepreneurial ventures in New York City at the rate of ten new startups per month.[42] In 2022, there were 293 Israeli startups in the New York area, the most of any metropolitan area outside Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.[43]

Relationship with American Jews

Israeli Americans are generally seen as having less interaction with the non-Israeli Jewish American community and its institutions, often preferring to maintain ties of association with other Israeli Americans.[44] Jewish Americans, especially religious Jewish Americans, tend to maintain correspondingly sparse contact with the Israeli American community besides participation in religious ceremonies.[45] At one point, religious American Jews viewed "yordim" as being the antithesis of the Jewish people's "eternal hope" of return and permanent settlement in Israel, but now consider them an important subgroup within the broader American Jewish community. An estimated 75% of Israeli Americans marry within the Jewish community, as opposed to about 50% of non-Israeli Jewish Americans.[46] At the same time, younger Israelis in America are assimilating in increasing numbers.[47]

Notable people

For a more comprehensive list, see List of Israeli Americans.

In popular culture

See also


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Further reading