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A month after its publication, the “Statement on Jewish Vitality,” signed by a number of leading Jewish communal figures, has stirred robust and vociferous condemnation. So who is right? The luminaries – rabbis in the field and leading scholars of Jewish sociology – who suggest there is a crisis and a need for a strategic response? Or those who have rejected the “Statement” as being too myopic and anachronistic, missing out on the vital Jewish experience currently taking place, to borrow from [a recent] Torah portion, Vayera, if only our Hagar-like Jewish establishment would open its eyes?
Updated: Nov. 11, 2015
Marking the 2nd anniversary of the release of the 2013 Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans, a highly diverse group of thought leaders from all around the United States has framed a “Statement on Jewish Vitality,” advocating strategic responses to respond to the challenges to the Jewish future. American Jewry now stands at a crossroads. Our choices are stark: we either accept as inevitable the declining numbers of engaged Jews, or we work to expand the community and improve the quality of Jewish life going forward. Despite the evidence of deeply disturbing population trends, the community is bereft of any sense of crisis.
Updated: Oct. 15, 2015
2013 was a good year for prognostications about the American Jewish future. The Pew Research Center released findings of a national survey of Jews, and the data were rich enough to spark intense wrangling over their implications. For those trying to make sense of the current debates, or for those who think about the future by first considering the past, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive presents this guide to demographic debates of yore. In the pages that follow, readers will find discussions of method and interpretation dating back to the first half of the 20th century, but with a special focus on the three major National Jewish Population Surveys of 1970, 1990 and 2000-1.
Updated: Feb. 19, 2014
British Jewry should encourage higher fertility rates and usher in a nationwide learning project as part of efforts to counter threats to the “continuity” of the community. That was the stark message from Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner on Sunday, as she set out a four-point plan for addressing the challenges facing 21st century Anglo-Jewry during a meeting of the Board of Deputies last Sunday.
Updated: Jan. 29, 2014
In the blizzard of articles, reactions, and blog posts about the Pew Research Center study of American Jews, the most unexpected came from the prominent public intellectual Noah Feldman. Writing in Bloomberg, Feldman’s column jumps from the Pew study to some observations about, surprisingly, the Lakewood yeshiva. He explains that Lakewood is a massive ultra-Orthodox educational institution (6500 students embedded in a community of 55,000) focused almost entirely on the study of Talmud and exclusively for male students, that its educational model is “astonishingly egalitarian and democratic,” that it demonstrates that “one kind of authentically Jewish experience is flourishing in America.”
Updated: Jan. 29, 2014