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2017 Annual Assessment

Polarization in the West is among the shifting trends that may erode the power of Diaspora Jewish communities and institutions. Social media contributes to this trend by stimulating personal atomization and weakening social cohesion, which endangers Jewish solidarity. Closed virtual dialogue groups that self-isolate from the larger society are also on the rise. All this is happening while voices opposed to liberal values and advocating greater nationalism and hostility to minorities grow louder – at times, hostility toward Jews seems to be increasing.

  • Diaspora Jewish institutions should focus on renewal and reinvention initiatives, with a primary focus on educational programs, in order to halt the erosion of their centrality and reinvigorate their currency in the communities they serve.
  • The Jewish community should be aware of and discuss the implications of a relatively new trend in the United States – an ideological connection between Orthodox Jewish communities and (mostly Christian) social conservatives (characterized by the trends and sentiments that helped bring Trump to power). The building blocks of this bridge are not the classical liberal values once thought to be the common base between the Jewish community and the American ethos.
  • Jewish organizations need to enlist state authorities to actively counter anti-Semitism. They should demand that their various governments deal effectively with anti-Semitic incidents.
  • Jewish communities should promote Jewish-Muslim dialogue initiatives based on their common status as minority groups.
  • Given the significant demographic growth of the North American Haredi and Orthodox communities (and the growing involvement of some of their members in public and economic positions of influence), there is a growing need to appeal to the spiritual and rabbinic leaders of these communities to convince their members to take a more active role in ensuring the future of the Jewish people. At the same time, leaders of the major Jewish organizations should encourage Haredi participation and leadership in the broader Jewish community.
  • There should be a special effort focused on bringing Russian-speaking Jews and Israeli expats living in the West into the fold of the established Jewish community.
  • New technologies should be harnessed – including those that allow more efficient and affordable intercontinental travel as well as social networks – in order to strengthen connections between Israeli and Diaspora Jews.
  • An effort should be made to strengthen the political influence of European Jewish communities in light of a possible erosion of the special status granted them in the decades following the Holocaust (direct access to political leaders, increased financial support, etc.).