In the wake of the Israel-Hamas war in summer 2014, US and Canadian college campuses were the settings for many anti-Israel activities, including the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. This study attempts to understand the extent of hostility toward Israel and antisemitism on North American campuses and assess the relationship between these trends and Jewish students’ support for and connection to Israel.
Focusing on findings from a study of summer 2014 applicants and participants, this report is the latest in a series of studies of Taglit-Birthright Israel. Summer 2014 was notable for three reasons. First, the summer trips attracted the largest group of applicants from this region since the program’s inception. Second, for the first time, applicants who had had a peer educational experience in Israel during their high school years were eligible to apply to the program. Third, the program occurred during a six-week war in which missiles were fired from Gaza into Israeli population centers and Israel responded with a military intervention in Gaza, “Operation Protective Edge.” The report focuses on understanding the degree to which the change in the applicant pool affected perceptions of the trip experience, the impact of the trip itself on connection to Israel and sense of Jewish identity, and the impact of the conflict in Gaza on trip experiences and trip impact.
The 2014 Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study
The 2014 Greater Seattle Jewish Community Study provides an up-to-date description of the size and character of Seattle-area Jewry. Included in the study are demographic findings, information on the religious background and geographic profile of Greater Seattle’s Jewish population as well as descriptions of participation in Jewish life and volunteer activities. The narrative is supplemented with community members’ own words on topics related to Jewish identity, diversity, and community resources. The report also includes special sections devoted to issues confronting families with children, young adults, senior adults, inmarried and intermarried couples, and synagogue members.
Summer 2014 marked the beginning of the second decade of the Summer Institute for Israel Studies (SIIS). SIIS prepares faculty members from around the world to design and teach courses about Israel. The context of the conflict in Gaza provided the 2014 fellows with an opportunity to see and hear first-hand the diversity of Israeli opinions and responses to the war. This report attempts to capture fellows’ experience in 2014 and summarizes the first decade of SIIS influence on the academy.
Pew’s portrait of American Jewry: A reassessment of the assimilation narrative
In A. Dashefsky & I. Sheskin (Eds.), American Jewish Year Book 2014 (Vol. 114, pp. 71-81). New York: Springer International Publishing.
Leonard Saxe, Theodore Sasson, Janet Krasner Aronson
This paper reconsiders the Pew data from the 2013 report, A Portrait of Jewish Americans, and assesses their implications for our understanding of contemporary Jewish identity in the US. Based on new analyses of the Pew dataset and supporting evidence the authors find evidence of substantial Jewish population growth, increased engagement with Jewish life, and increased Jewish identification among the young adult children of intermarriage.
The Jewish Futures Project (JFP) was launched in 2009 to assess Taglit-Birthright Israel’s long-term impact and examine the trajectory of individuals’ development. This longitudinal panel study follows the lives of a large group of individuals touched by the program, and examines their decisions and behaviors related to Jewish identity and community. The findings in this report were derived from data collected in 2013 for the fourth wave of the JFP. The expanded number of panelists with families allows for new analyses of marriage patterns and child rearing, including the study of applicant subgroups (e.g., children of intermarried parents).
This study examines the reactions of a diverse group of Jewish young adults (applicants to Taglit-Birthright Israel) to the 2014 conflict in Gaza. The report compares their responses to the opinions of young adults in the U.S. The findings are based on a survey conducted in early August 2014 of a sample of U.S. based individuals who applied to the trip--both participants and nonparticipants--from 2011 to 2013. Survey questions focused on media consumption, opinions about Israel's and Hamas' action during the conflict, and support for Israel.
The 2012-13 Directory of Israel Studies builds on the work of previous directories through inclusion of course enrollment data and identification of faculty. A key change is the recognition and addition of upper-level Hebrew language courses as Israel-focused. The Directory this year documents three important findings about the field of Israel studies: growth in the number of Israel-focused courses, albeit at a slower rate than seen in the past; the importance of institutional and external support for professorships, chairs, centers, and programs to prepare scholars to teach in the field; and student demand for Israel-focused courses in enrollment numbers and the number of faculty teaching about Israel.
The 2013 Greater Buffalo Jewish Community Study
This study of Greater Buffalo found a Jewish community comprised of 5,770 households. These households include 9,800 Jewish adults and 2,250 Jewish children, with an additional 1,000 non-Jewish adults and 200 non-Jewish children. On average, the community is older than the US Jewish population as a whole, but it also includes families with children of preschool and day care age, multiple options for supplementary and day schools, and JCC family activities. A challenge confronting the Buffalo Jewish community going forward is to find ways to maintain the loyalty of long-standing members while being welcoming to those less involved, whether they are newcomers to the area or newly seeking connections to the Jewish community.