Amid all of the changes that have taken place within the American Jewish community during the past fifteen years, few are as striking and significant as those in the fields of Jewish philanthropy and Jewish education. These two areas have experienced fundamental shifts, independently and in relationship to each other, and both are now regarded as among the most dynamic aspects of Jewish communal life.
Lying at the heart of the recent transformations in both fields are three overarching trends: (a) the assimilation of substantial numbers of Jews into the larger American society, resulting in the
abandonment of behaviors and social interactions that had long been the hallmark of the Jewish community; (b) the emergence of increased funding for a broad array of Jewish education programs and institutions as a response to that abandonment; and (c) a growing interest in research by Jewish educators, policymakers and philanthropists seeking to ascertain the extent to which various kinds of Jewish educational experiences actually strengthen Jewish identity and lead to greater participation in Jewish life. While these trends are helping to reshape the current landscape of the organized Jewish community in a positive manner, the prospects for a truly vibrant American Jewish community in the years ahead will depend on the degree to which Jewish communal leaders, philanthropists and researchers are able to reinforce and sustain their current efforts by attracting significantly greater resources for effective Jewish educational programming.