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The Growth of the Haredi Communities in the Diaspora

  • The significantly growing population share of Hasidic and Yeshivish Orthodox in American Jewry raises the question of the potential of increased Haredi communal, civic, and political engagement.
  • JPPI’s sixth-annual Structured Jewish Dialogue examined this issue in a series of discussion seminars 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, the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) initiated its sixth Structured Dialogue Process, THE GROWTH OF THE HAREDI COMMUNITIES IN THE DIASPORA: EXPANDING CIVIC AND POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT. JPPI’s Dialogues are designed to provide decision makers in Israel and the Diaspora with a policy tool that incorporates the various perspectives of world Jewry. All Dialogue reports are submitted to the government of Israel and Jewish organizations worldwide. Click here to read the reports on previous Dialogues. This Dialogue, though, differed from its predecessors insofar as the two sides of the Dialogue were not, as in previous years, Israel and Diaspora Jewry. Rather the interlocutors of the 2019 Dialogue were the Frum or Haredi community in the United States and the mainstream, organized Jewish community in the US, whose members are mostly affiliated with the Reform, Conservative, or Modern Orthodox streams.

The purpose of the project THE GROWTH OF THE HAREDI COMMUNITIES IN THE DIASPORA: EXPANDING CIVIC AND POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT was 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 explores whether given this demographic trend, greater Haredi participation in American public life and in general Jewish communal life and organizations, such as the federations,
is desirable or necessary. To this end, JPPI initiated a series of discussions with leaders of both the Frum and larger Jewish communities and conducted several discussion seminars with Orthodox and non-Orthodox participants in major North American Jewish communities. Seminar participants also completed a short survey. The project examines reasons for greater engagement of the Frum community, and the challenges that may be encountered..

A note on Terminology:

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

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