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2019 Annual Assessment

First, we must note that the respondent sample is very small (110 people) and the findings should be considered preliminary.

The aggregated responses are moderately optimistic concerning relations between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox sectors, and affirm widening cooperation between them. Thus, almost half of the respondents answered that the relationship between the two communities is either “satisfactory” or “acceptable.” Similarly, almost 73 percent of the respondents thought that one of the “most appropriate models of collaboration” should be Yeshivish and Hassidic Orthodox serving as federation board members. Again, 70 percent of respondents answered the question, “Should we encourage the Hassidic and Yeshivish Orthodox to participate in community-wide events attracting Jews from the whole spectrum of Jewish life and the Jewish community (including non-Orthodox)?”, with “Yes and it should be carefully planned so that those who prefer mixed gender seating can do so, and those that prefer separate seating can do so.”

The cooperative attitude also extended into the sensitive area of education. A majority of Orthodox respondents (58%) answered that Orthodox Jews should participate in the planning and funding of Reform and Conservative Jewish education. Similarly, 71 percent of Non-Orthodox respondents stated that Jewish organizations should be supportive of increased government funding for Jewish day schools, which is mainly a concern of the Orthodox, especially the Haredim. This support breaks with the long-standing opinion of liberal Jews who were against any “cracks in the wall” separating church and state.

Beyond the aggregated results of the questionnaire, it is of interest to look at select communities and how they compare to the responses of the entire group. Two such communities are Baltimore and New York. Both are outliers, but on opposite sides of the spectrum. Baltimore is a community in which unusual collaboration exist between the (mainly) Yeshivish Orthodox and the general community and it prides itself on that score.Respondents in New York evinced the least optimism and readiness for collaboration.

Close to half of the Baltimore respondents expressed “satisfaction” with the current relations between Yeshivish and Hassidic Orthodox, and the general community. Among the entire group, only a quarter expressed satisfaction. Similarly, over 70 percent of the Baltimore respondents (including Yeshivish and Hassidic), indicated that one should support the federation, a significantly higher rate than the group as a whole.

New York gave almost the mirror image. First, the rate of satisfaction with relations between Haredim and the general community is significantly less in New York than in the group as a whole. Only 12 percent of New York respondents said they were satisfied, while 25 percent of the entire group expressed satisfaction. Conversely, 62 percent of New York respondents answered that relations should be improved, while in the general group 40 percent thought so. Combatting anti-Semitism was identified as the main arena for possible collaboration among New York respondents (87.5%) and received far more votes than any intra-Jewish communal topic, including “helping Jews in need.” In other words, in New York it was felt that cooperation between Jews can best be obtained in regard to defense against the non-Jewish world. In the overall group, the same number of respondents (70%) felt that helping Jews in need alongside combatting anti-Semitism could be an area of collaboration. Furthermore, in a sharp departure from the attitudes of the entire group, 50 percent of New York respondents felt that there should be greater Haredi participation in community-wide events and that Orthodox norms should be maintained for everybody – in the overall group only 19 percent felt that way. Fewer Haredi participants in New York than in the overall group felt that Orthodox Jews should participate in the planning and funding of educational programs for interfaith couples or LGBT Jews.

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