American Jewry

Jim Farmelant farmelantj at
Fri May 23 18:50:09 MDT 2003

Apparently the National Jewish Population Survey of 2001 showed
a sizable drop in the US Jewish population over the
past decade, increased intermarriage, increased secularism
among American Jews etc.  This study has been very controversial both
among professional demographers, and among the
leaders of Jewish organizations who may be impacted
by its findings.  Thus, far there have been several
delays in the full release of its findings (see:

>From what I have heard about it, it seems to bear most
of what Lou says about current trends among American

Jim F.

On Fri, 23 May 2003 16:42:09 -0400 Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> writes:
> I am glad we are beginning to discuss this question in a calmer
> fashion,
> since it is of some importance given the power of American Jewry to
> influence US policy at a very high level.
> To begin with, I want to recommend two books. One, that I have read,
> is
> Stephen Bloom's "Postville", which deals with the clash between
> Lubavitcher
> Hasidim and their Gentile neighbors in a small Iowa town where the
> Hasids
> have bought and reopened a defunct packinghouse in order to supply
> the
> kosher needs of their brethren back east. The author describes them
> as an
> utterly repugnant and clannish group that holds its Christian
> neighbors in
> contempt, while cheating them out of tax revenues. Guess what. The
> author
> is a Jew himself, who teaches creative writing at the U. of Iowa.
> One that I haven't read, but plan to, is "Jew Versus Jew" by Samuel
> Freedman who teaches in the journalism school at Columbia. Check out
> for information on the book. The
> prologue,
> which is online, contains the following:
>  >>This civil war, while building for nearly a half-century, has
> reached
> its most furious pitch in the final years of the millennium. In
> November
> 1995, a yeshiva student named Yigal Amir assassinated the Israeli
> prime
> minister Yitzhak Rabin amid a climate of theological approval
> developed
> partly by American rabbis. In the wake of the killing, the peace
> process so
> divided American Jews that they could not agree on whether a rally
> in
> Madison Square Garden should commemorate Rabin for his negotiated
> settlement with the Palestinians or demonstrate Jewish cohesion
> despite the
> controversial Oslo accords. In March of 1997, an association of
> ultra-Orthodox rabbis, the Agudath Harabonim, declared that the
> Reform and
> Conservative movements, which collectively represent about
> two-thirds of
> American Jews, were "not Judaism at all." Less than three months
> later, the
> first of the haredi attacks on egalitarian and mostly American
> worshippers
> at the Western Wall occurred. The religious parties holding the
> swing votes
> in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition
> introduced
> legislation to formalize the Orthodox monopoly on conversion,
> marriage, and
> burial, which is to say the entire question of "Who is a Jew?" Such
> was the
> outcry among American Jews that Netanyahu promised a national
> convention of
> 4,500 fund-raisers, educators, and community leaders, "There can be
> so such
> thing as a second-class Jew."<<
> I would also look at Lenni Brenner's "Sociology of American Zionism"
> at:
> It contains the following:
>  >>The results are in for the latest American elections to the World
> Zionist Congress. They show the continuation of the steep decline of
> Zionism within the country's Jews. According to the 4/19 Forward:
> "The Reform movement finished first in this year's American Zionist
> elections to the World Zionist Congress - but lost ground from the
> previous
> election five years ago. Meanwhile, the Orthodox linked
> Religious Zionist Movement virtually doubled its representation,
> nearly
> surpassing the Conservatives for the No. 2 spot.
> Participation declined by nearly 20,000 from the last elections in
> 1997,
> with only 90,000 Jews casting their ballots this year.... Of the
> total 145
> delegates elected by Americans, ARZA/World Union, the
> Zionist arm of the Reform and Reconstructionist movements, won 61
> seats,
> down from 70.
> The Religious Zionist Movement, supported by the Orthodox, took 29
> seats,
> up from 16, the Conservative arm's Mercaz USA finished second with
> 32
> delegates, down six from the last election."
> Some Zionists who are not members of the World Zionist Organization
> must be
> added to these figures. Meir Kahane's terrorists are not allowed in.
> They
> are dangerous, but not numerous. My estimate is in
> the low hundreds, nationally.<<
> My impression is that a sea-change is taking place among young Jews.
> At
> Columbia University, as I have pointed out here, hard-core support
> for
> Israel seems limited to observant Jews, while many of the
> anti-occupation
> activists appear to be Jewish by name at least. The plain truth is
> that an
> outfit like Hillel is *not attractive* to the average secular Jew.
> With
> each passing year, I should add, more and more Jews become secular.
> This tendency, of course, is alarming to the Jewish establishment
> which was
> even accused of faking poll numbers to make the phenomenon of
> assimilation
> appear less pervasive. I should add, by the way, that while I am
> dead-set
> opposed to the assimilation of indigenous peoples, which by its very
> nature
> will be forced, I am for the speedy assimilation of all Jews,
> starting with
> me. I was always inspired by the anecdote in Isaac Deutscher's "The
> Non-Jewish Jew" about how he took part in an initiation ceremony
> when
> joining the socialist movement in Poland, which for young Jews like
> him
> apparently involved discarding old religious beliefs. Namely, he ate
> a ham
> sandwich in a Jewish cemetery at midnight.
> Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list:

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