Constructs E-Newsletter

Building Knowledge of Contemporary Jewry

January 2007

Welcome to the inaugural e-newsletter of Brandeis University's Cohen Center, Steinhardt Social Research Institute, and Fisher-Bernstein Institute. Below you will find descriptions of the latest research conducted by our interdisciplinary team of research scientists.

The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, founded in 1979, conducts evaluation research on a full range of Jewish endeavors that include educational, religious, advocacy, and service programs and organizations. The Center has recently been joined by two new institutes. The Fisher-Bernstein Institute is working to increase knowledge about fundraising, philanthropy, and leadership in the American Jewish community. The Steinhardt Institute is pioneering innovative approaches to tracking trends in American Jewry and to understanding the character of local and national Jewish populations and organizations. We are part of Brandeis University's Lown School and are dedicated to providing a deeper understanding of modern Jewish life and the role of religion and ethnicity in society.

The inaugural issue of our e-newsletter profiles several of our recent projects and publications, as well as our forthcoming conferences. The work described in this newsletter will give you a sense of the breadth of our scholarship and of the issues with which we are concerned. We are delighted to share our work and hope that you find it thought-provoking, informative, and useful. We look forward to providing updates about our research and to receiving your comments and feedback.

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

2005 Boston Community Survey: Preliminary Findings
Leonard Saxe, Benjamin Phillips, Charles Kadushin, Graham Wright, Daniel Parmer

The community study was conducted by the Steinhardt Social Research Institute for Boston's Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The study's methodological innovations have broken new ground in the field of community studies. The survey describes a growing, vibrant and highly connected Boston Jewish community. It also reports that a majority of children of intermarried households are being raised Jewish, a statistic that is likely to reopen the debate over approaches to intermarriage.

Jewish Engagement from Birth: A Blueprint for Outreach to First-Time Parents
Mark I. Rosen

An examination of successful outreach programs for first-time parents and parents with young children in ten Jewish communities around the country. The report finds that those communities who invest in programming for first-time parents successfully engage families who might otherwise be disconnected.

Mapping Jewish Education: The National Picture
Amy L. Sales
with Marion Gribetz, Annette Koren, Joe Reimer,
Nicole Samuel, Len Saxe, and Jackie Terry

The first in a series of research reports on Jewish education funded by the Jim Joseph foundation. Jewish education is a multi-billion dollar enterprise with a proliferation of programs at the local, regional, and national levels. This report analyzes information about these programs and the organizations that sponsor them. It delineates the various roles that are and can be played by federations, foundations, and agencies to create a strong educational system for the Jewish community. It also explores various issues faced by foundations in their funding of education.

In the News

Boston Globe

  • Click here to read Michael Paulson's article Jewish Population in Region Rises.

  • Forward

  • Amy Sales, director of the Fisher-Bernstein Institute, is interviewed regarding her work with Nicole Samuel (research analyst at Fisher-Bernstein) on the factors that contribute to the shrinking pool of fundraising and development professionals in Jewish organizations in Non-profits Mull Staff Shortages.

  • The Boston study continues to make headlines: Boston Study Shows 60% of Interfaith Kids Raised Jewish

  • JTA

  • Len Saxe, director of CMJS and SSRI, is interviewed at the G.A. about Hillel's challenges in For Hillel, G.A. is Time to Show New Ways of Reaching Students

  • Also featured in JTA, read Sue Fishkoff's article Investment in Outreach is Paying Dividends in Boston, Study Suggests.

  • Other Publications

    All papers & publications

    Experimenting with Jewish Education: Towards a Science of Understanding

    Contact magazine recently featured three articles by SSRI researchers. In Experimenting with Jewish Education: Towards a Science of Understanding, Benjamin Phillips and Len Saxe employ the example of the Cohen Center's Taglit-birthright israel research to illustrate how Jewish education can benefit from research studies based on scientific experimentation.

    Qualitative Research on American Jewry

    Ted Sasson explains how qualitative research, based on ethnography or interview research, can enhance our understanding of the people and issues that comprise and confront the Jewish community in Qualitative Research on American Jewry.

    How many Jews?: Synthesizing Data to Understand American Jewry

    In How many Jews?: Synthesizing Data to Understand American Jewry, Len Saxe discusses the difficulties inherent in estimating "rare populations" and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute's development of a new model to understand the demography of American Jewry.

    The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness

    Sylvia Barack Fishman highlights Jewish diversity, from the biblical period through diverse times and places, and focuses on the plethora of Jewish religious and secular identities today.

    Upcoming Events

    From Sanctuary to Boardroom: A Jewish Approach to Leadership

    February 7, 2007

    Join in a provocative conversation with author Hal M. Lewis about leadership, follower-ship, ethics, and power as we delve into key Jewish texts on leadership and apply their principles to current issues associated with leading and managing organizations.

    Pushing the Boundaries: Abraham Joshua Heschel, A Centenary Conference

    March 11-12, 2007

    This centenary conference explores major areas of Abraham Joshua Heschel's life and works and recognizes the publication of the first intellectual and cultural biography of Heschel by Edward Kaplan of Brandeis University.

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