Article Library / Structured Jewish World Dialogue

The Growth of the Haredi Communities in the Diaspora

Whether the strictly Orthodox adopt an inclusive or exclusive approach to Jewish collectivity has at least as much to do with demographic and sociological factors as with religious, theological or ideological ones. In interwar Poland, the Agudah and the strictly Orthodox felt that they represented the majority of Polish Jews, so they took the stance of participation in all communal institutions and “taking responsibility” for the entire Jewish population. Among Shas, too, a similar sentiment, that the majority of Sephardim are basically loyal to the tradition, has underpinned its inclusive “churchlike” approach. Today, too, the Frum community cooperates with non-Frum Jews and their organizations on specific issues of common concern.

Thus, the question arises: Can the recent demographic developments – the increased population share of the Haredim in US Jewry – start a process of increased Haredi participation in mainstream communal institutions and of “taking responsibility” for the entire Jewish population. This Dialogue was a consultative process designed to obtain initial directions of thought in regard to this possibility. Concretely, the Dialogue explored how the creation of trust and communication between the two communities – the Frum and the non-Orthodox – could serve as a basis for increased collaboration and communication.