Article Library / Annual Assessment

2019 Annual Assessment

Although the American Jewry is often considered in the aggregate, segments of American Jews who both self-identity and participate in Jewish life tend to divide into two broad rubrics:

  1. “General” Jewish communal organizations, such as the federations, which include in their leadership and staff non-Orthodox as well as some Orthodox Jews. Of course, each of the religious streams has its own organizations as well, but in general, the non-Orthodox and the Modern Orthodox are substantially integrated into the general communal organizations.
  2. The Hasidic and Yeshivish Orthodox who maintain their own philanthropic, religious, educational, and communal frameworks, minimally participate in general Jewish organizations.
  3. In the past, both frameworks depended on a population base to erect and staff its organizational structures and organizations. Yet, by the beginning of the 21st century the relative weight of the various Jewish Diaspora communities began to change. This change, largely the result of differing fertility and assimilation rates, entails a reduction of the population base of the general communal organizations and a strengthening of its Orthodox counterpart.

 

According to the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews, almost 30 percent of all Jewish children are being raised in Orthodox households. If present trends continue, the Orthodox segment of the American Jewish community will constitute approximately one third of its total population by mid-century. Not only has the Orthodox community increased numerically, it has also developed economically and institutionally. Some Orthodox households have achieved prosperity in the past 75 years and the Yeshivish and Hasidic communities have built impressive educational, religious and social welfare infrastructures. In order to meet its needs, the Frum community has established connections with political leaders – on the local and state levels especially, but also on the federal level. In recent years, it has to some degree become part of a politically important religious coalition with Evangelicals and conservative Catholics working to protect common interests, such as their perception of religious freedom. Haredi Jews are beginning to enter government service and private sector jobs. More and more Haredi Jews are able to retain their traditional dress, distinctive signs of Jewish religiosity, and strict observance of Jewish law while also acquiring business prominence and political influence.

Previous
Next