Prof. Charles Kadushin, z''l, passed away last week just as this edition of Constructs was set to be released. Charles was an important presence in our lives, and he had a profound influence on our work. Later this fall, we expect to hold a memorial to gather his friends, family and colleagues to talk about his life and how his insights into collective social behavior shaped our efforts to understand contemporary Jewry. The work described below reflects his influence. May his memory be for a blessing.
Answering fundamental questions about the size, characteristics, diversity, patterns of Jewish engagement, and political views of US American Jews has been the focus of much of our time and attention this past year. Our research agenda included an examination of the political attitudes of American Jews derived from the American Jewish Population Project; an exploration of one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States—Greater Los Angeles, as well as smaller communities including Kansas City, Louisville, and Orlando; and an evaluation of the 2021 Birthright cohort that visited Israel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the May 2021 Israel-Hamas conflict.
Other studies are currently in the field or in the analysis phase. I look forward to sharing new findings with you in the coming months.
In the coming year our research will continue to address critical issues of contemporary Jewish life—from antisemitism, engagement with Israel, intermarriage, Jewish educational programs to organizational leadership initiatives. We are excited to announce that one of our new areas of study will be Jewish diversity. This new project involves combining and synthesizing data from all the community studies we conducted in the past decade. We hope to shed light on traditionally understudied populations, including Russian-speaking Jews, Sephardi and Mizrachi Jews, intermarried families with young children, and various sub-groups of denominationally identified individuals. This work will build on CMJS’s decades of experience of adapting cutting-edge social science methods to study American Jews, a “rare” population, that is ignored by the US Census Bureau and is undergoing substantial change.
Another development is that our flagship long-term panel study of Jewish adults and Jewish identity will be entering its 7th wave of data collection in early 2023. Panel members, who were young adults when we began the study, are now entering their 40s and settling into a new phase of adulthood with its host of new challenges and demands.
May 5783 be a year of peace.
Gmar Chatima Tova,
Leonard Saxe, PhD
Klutznick Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies and Social Policy
Director, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University