Constructs E-Newsletter

Building Knowledge of Contemporary Jewry

April 2007

Welcome to the April e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and Fisher-Bernstein Institute.

Media reports of the Steinhardt Institute's demographic study have continued to spark serious discussion about the basic characteristics and size of the American Jewish population and the best approaches to the difficult task of counting Jews. Below are links to recent news items.

The Cohen Center's recently released report, "Israel at War," examines the influence of educational experiences in Israel on how young adults responded to last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah. By comparing survey responses of young adults who have participated in an educational trip to Israel with those who have not, the study underscores the vital role of Israel experience programs. It also reports high overall levels of interest in the war and sympathy for Israel's position.

The Fisher-Bernstein Institute's work on the fundraising profession continues to animate discussion. Below, we profile a workshop held this fall for development professionals based in Reform synagogues. The workshop highlighted recent trends in Jewish giving and the particular challenges of funds development in the synagogue world.

As always, we look forward to receiving your comments and feedback.

-Leonard Saxe, Director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute
-Amy Sales, Director of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute

Reconsidering the Size and Characteristics of the American Jewish Population: In the News

SSRI's finding that there are more Jews in the United States than previously believed continues to make headlines:

The Jerusalem Report headlines with a double entendre:
When Jews Count.

The Forward proclaims Finally, a Jewish Population Study Worth Studying.

Israel at War: The Impact of Peer-oriented Israel Programs on Responses of American Young Adults

Leonard Saxe, Theodore Sasson, and Shahar Hecht

Philanthropists and Jewish organizations, concerned with evidence of American Jewish young adults' declining attachment to Israel and the Jewish people, have initiated a number of large-scale initiatives to bring Jewish young adults to Israel. Hezbollah's war against Israel, in summer 2006, provided a context for assessing the impact of such programs. CMJS researchers concluded that alumni of Israel peer tours were significantly more likely to seek out news of Israel's recent conflict with Hezbollah and exhibit a greater level of overall identification with the Jewish people worldwide than their counterparts who did not participate in an Israel peer program.

Read more.

CMJS in the News

CMJS senior researcher Mark Rosen discusses some of the implications of his recent study of new parents in
Jewish Engagement from Birth: A Blueprint for Outreach to First Time Parents

The Jewish World in Flux:
Our Changing Donors, Synagogues, and Profession

Synagogues have come to recognize the critical importance of revenue sources beyond annual membership dues. To help build a stronger financial base for the congregation, some have added fundraisers to their professional team. The growing number of such professionals has led to the creation of an association for development professionals working in Reform synagogues. In November 2006, a one-day workshop, developed and presented by David Mersky and Amy Sales, was held at the Reform Synagogue Development Professionals Conference in Baltimore, MD. The presentation described current realities in the Jewish community, in synagogues, and in fundraising and philanthropy and explored how these realities affect the work of the synagogue development professional.

Other Publications

The 1, 2, 3 Principle

In The 1, 2, 3 Principle: Kishkes, Kortex and Kinesthetics , Leonard Saxe, CMJS director, and Fern Chertok, CMJS senior research associate, discuss those practices that help insure effective Jewish education.
Posted with the permission of Reform Judaism magazine, Union for Reform Judaism.

Spring 2007

Jewish Retreats for Adults

Amy Sales, CMJS associate director, discusses the potential gains and challenges associated with Jewish retreats in “The Retreat As Spa, Education Center, & Camp for Grown-ups” in Contact, the Journal of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation.

Autumn 2006

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