Editor’s Note: A shorter version of this essay was published in the Dec. 13 issue of The Jewish Week.
Nelson Mandela’s death evoked a worldwide outpouring of respect and love. Jewish leaders, from Netanyahu (Israel), to Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein (South Africa) to America, praised his greatness. Netanyahu called him “a freedom fighter who rejected any violence” and “a moral leader of the highest order.”
Only about 2 percent of the respondents to the New York Jewish Population Study are “Jewish by conversion.” Twice as many people — 5 percent of the study — describe themselves as “Jewish by personal choice.”
Not all of the time, perhaps not even most of the time, certainly not in the biblical era, and not in the pre-Holocaust European era either. Nevertheless, “unity” was the Eleventh Commandment, if ever there was one.
Orthodox births fuel population jump as numbers of poor rise; Reform, Conservative decrease. Where is the center?
Older, poorer, more Orthodox and more balkanized.
The findings of the first population survey of New York Jewry in a decade, confirming trends revealed years ago, show dramatic changes in a community that has grown larger, but significantly more polarized.
UJA-Federation faces steep challenge in light of new data.
Editor and Publisher
The new 10-year study of the Jewish population of New York presents a major challenge to UJA-Federation, which commissioned the survey, because the research indicates that our community is moving sharply in two opposite directions: very engaged Jewishly (but not necessarily communally) and decreasingly interested in Jewish life.
Rebecca Missel grew up mostly in Mesa, Ariz., a predominantly Mormon city with few Jews. But when she moved to Morristown, N.J., she was surprised to find she felt a more acute lack of connection with her community.
Born in Minsk, Belarus, Rubin came to the U.S. with his family as a child. They settled at first in Brooklyn, then moved to northeast Pennsylvania. He was attracted to business and thought he wanted to be “a finance guy.” But after studying business at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Rubin decided he wanted to do “more than just finance. I want to make things and impact the world.”
In a trend that has been growing in recent decades, the publishing industry – which has brought printing into everyone’s hands and allowed publishers to gear their products to particular segments of the market – now offers Haggadahs and related Pesach books that appeal on the whole, to specific parts of the Jewish community.