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2019 Annual Assessment

Preliminary Report

  • The significantly growing population share of Hassidic and Yeshivish Orthodox in American Jewry raises the question of increased Haredi communal, civic and political engagement.
  • JPPI initiated a project to address this issue and conducted structured dialogue discussions with Haredi and communal leaders.
  • In these discussions most Haredi and general communal leaders endorsed the goals of building trust and enhancing cooperation between the communities.

In the second half of 2018, JPPI initiated the project Facilitating the Civic and Political Engagement of the Haredi Community in the United States. Its purpose is to open a conversation on the implications of an important demographic shift taking place in American Jewish life: The increasing share of the Orthodox, especially the Hasidic and Yeshivish communities, in the North American Jewish population. This project examines whether given this demographic trend, greater Haredi participation in American public life and in general Jewish communal life and organizations, such as the federations, desirable or necessary.

To this end, JPPI has opened a series of discussions with leaders of both the Frum and larger Jewish communities and has conducted several structured dialogue sessions with Orthodox and non-Orthodox participants in major North American Jewish communities. Seminar participants also completed a short survey. The project seeks to identify some reasons for greater engagement of the Frum community, and the challenges that may be encountered and/or engendered.

A Note on Terminology: We found during the course of the project that not all Yeshivish and Hasidic leaders agree as to how they should be referred to. Furthermore, this issue is a sensitive one because of the connotations that various names may carry. We therefore use the terms “Yeshivish and Hasidic Orthodox,” “Haredi” and “Frum” [pious in Yiddish], interchangeably while noting the various connotations (positive and negative] that each term carries.
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