Constructs: Building Knowledge of Contemporary Jewry 
May 2010
In This Issue
Wrong Numbers
Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement
Mission, Meaning, and Money
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Dear Friends:

Israel is much on my mind. In the middle of May, as Taglit-Birthright Israel continued its tenth anniversary celebration, I joined nearly 4,000 Jewish young adults from around the world at Binyanei Ha'uma to celebrate Jerusalem Day. While in Israel, I also had a chance to confer with an increasingly large circle of Israeli scholars interested in Jewish peoplehood and concerned with the evolution of Jewish communities around the world. 

Graduation at Brandeis was especially rewarding for those of us concerned with Israel. Among our honorary degree recipients was Ambassador Michael Oren, who gave the main commencement address. Michael, the consummate historian, did not disappoint, and his remarks were well received by students, parents, and faculty. Commencement also provided an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of ten graduates of the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. They are an extraordinary group: They have diverse interests but share a passion for Jewish life and are highly skilled in management, policy analysis, and Jewish studies. 

The recent publication of Peter Beinart's essay in the New York Review of Books about liberal Jews and their relationship with Israel has kept discussion of Israel at the forefront of the Jewish press and blogosphere. Our response, published today by Tablet, corrects a number of errors in Beinart's analysis, in particular his use of survey data about young adults and their relationship to Israel. The themes in the Tablet article are also developed in a longer journal article by Ted Sasson, "Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement," published in the Summer 2010 issue of Israel Studies. Together, these pieces provide an alternative to the narrative of American Jewish distancing and alienation--one that highlights the new, direct, personal, and sometimes partisan ways many American Jews increasingly relate to Israel.
 
As always, I look forward to your reactions.
 
Leonard Saxe, Ph.D.
Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies
Director, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies
Director, Steinhardt Social Research Institute

 Tablet magazine

Wrong Numbers, Tablet Magazine, May 28, 2010
Theodore Sasson & Leonard Saxe

...Our response to Beinart and others who share his view of a schism between liberal American Jews and establishment advocacy organizations is not based on political differences. Rather, our concern is that he and others have allowed their own political views to color their interpretation of the views of the broader American Jewish public. In so doing, they give a distorted impression of American Jewish opinion and overlook important developments in the relationship of American Jews to Israel.
 
Read more.
Mass Mobilization to Direct
Engagement: American Jews'
Changing Relationship to Israel


Theodore Sasson
Israel Studies, summer 2010

Israel Studies CoverThe practices of American Jews relative to Israel seem increasingly to break with patterns established during the second half of the 20th century. This study argues that the mass mobilization model that organized American Jewish practices since the founding of the state is in decline, and a new direct engagement model is rising alongside it. The implications for the relationship of American Jews to Israel are discussed.

Read the article.
Mission, Meaning, and Money: How the Joint Distribution Committee Became a Fundraising Innovator
Mark I. Rosen
Afterword by Jonathan Sarna

A publication of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute
 
Mission, Meaning, and Money Mark I. Rosen offers an absorbing history of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee that reveals much about the complex structure of Jewish philanthropy in the United States. In the process, he highlights principles and practices that can be adopted by any nonprofit to improve leadership and fundraising effectiveness.

In developing the case, the author was granted full access to the staff, board members, and major donors to the JDC, nearly 100 of whom he interviewed for the project. The result is a book that illuminates many of the key issues at stake in current discussions about funding for global needs.
 
Mission, Meaning, and Money is part of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute's effort to create case studies of Jewish organizations that have undergone significant transformation in leadership and fundraising.

For more information.
 
Constructs is the e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and Fisher-Bernstein Institute.
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