Article Library / Structured Jewish World Dialogue

The Growth of the Haredi Communities in the Diaspora

JPPI’s sixth Dialogue was led Dr. Shlomo Fischer (Jerusalem) and Dr. John Ruskay (New York). Rabbi Dr. Dov Maimon, made a significant contribution leading the meetings in Europe, and Prof. Steven Popper was instrumental in organizing and conducting the Los Angeles discussion. The four of them are JPPI Senior Fellows. Adar Schieber, a JPPI Associate Fellow, coordinated the process.

Israel’s challenge is different from the challenge abroad. The participation of Israeli Haredim in the IDF and even more significantly in the workforce will have a critical impact on Israel’s strength in all its aspects. But, as a sovereign state, its political system is responding to the challenge – for better or worse.

When Jewish leadership and activism is voluntary, as it is in the Diaspora, the dilemmas are much more complex. Deepening polarization is becoming the main threat. The development of atomized communities with minimal links and without common goals and shared responsibilities will almost certainly erode Jewish identity and influence.

The figures are startling. About a third of US Jewish kids 18 or younger are being raised in Orthodox households. In the Greater New York area, the number is approaching two-thirds. Of these, less than a third belong to Modern Orthodox families, which are traditionally engaged in the broader Jewish community and the general society.

The burden of responsibility for the existential security of the Jewish future has mainly been shouldered by organizations without a singular religious orientation. These organizations created the base for Jewish influence in the American society and endeavored to guaranteed the material well-being of US Jews generally and encouraged their best and brightest to pursue careers in politics and public service. Their first loyalty has always been America, but an aspect of Jewish belonging also ensured a deep sense of responsibility for Jewish communities in need around the world.

No doubt, the Frum community provides, through strict practice, a spiritual and traditional continuity. In the last decades it has also become more engaged in the political landscape, but has focused primarily on its own urgent needs. JPPI detects a challenge presented by the significant growth of the Frum community in developing further cooperation for a flourishing and secure Jewish future. This implies the enhanced Haredi representation not only in Jewish organizations and the federation system, but also in government and public service. This is the real effort JPPI is currently investing through a new project aimed at achieving this enhanced representation.

This year’s Dialogue was the first step – to build trust between the various components of Jewish America and Global Jewry.

JPPI’s sixth Dialogue was led Dr. Shlomo Fischer (Jerusalem) and Dr. John Ruskay (New York). Rabbi Dr. Dov Maimon, made a significant contribution leading the meetings in Europe, and Prof. Steven Popper was instrumental in organizing and conducting the Los Angeles discussion. The four of them are JPPI senior fellows. Rabbi Dr. Maimon is leading our new project on enhancing Haredi representation in every facet of Jewish leadership. I want to express my deep appreciation for the effort invested by them in this delicate endeavor. But, this effort could not have succeeded without the help of significant leading figures in Jewish life like Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents, Eric Goldstein of the NY Federation, Prof. Richard Stone of the Orthodox Union, Ruth Lichtenstein of Hamodia, Dr. Irving Lebovics on the West Coast, R. Shlomo Werdiger, R. Menachem Lubinsky, R. Chaim Dovid Zwiebel and R. Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America, Prof. Uzi Rebhun and Yisrael Katzover from Israel, and many others. Many thanks to them all.

Recommendations generated as a result of the 2019 Dialogue focus on a few main areas:
a.) coordinating a unified effort of the different streams in the field of advocacy to the benefit of Israel and Jewish communities in need;
b.) better cooperation between different groups in providing education and social services to the general Jewish Community;
c.) encouraging Frum community elites to take responsibility for the Jewish future by joining the leadership of major Jewish organizations, as well as entering the arenas of national politics and public service.

The 2020 Annual Dialogue is dedicated to the impact of anti-Semitism on Jewish identity in Israel and the Diaspora. We invite and look forward to your participation in this effort.
Avinoam Bar-Yosef

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