The American Jewish Community's Next Stage

By Hayim Herring

eJewish Philanthropy, April 12, 2010

The American Jewish community is at turning point. Even before the economic crisis, five significant transitions have changed the meanings that individuals ascribe to being part of a community and the structures of those communities. We have shifted from an age of national organizations to local organizations, institutions to networks, elite control to democratic rule, monopoly of specialization to democracy of generalized knowledge, exclusivity to inclusivity. In this post-Madoff world of diminished financial resources, these transitions have only further accelerated the dissolution and reconfiguration of "the Jewish community" in its varied iterations. Ideology of any kind is losing its toehold, dislodged by the never-ending quest for customized meaning. Especially in a moment of crisis, we do not want to make assumptions about what will best benefit the Jewish community in the long-term. Generalized anxiety fosters short-term, limited thinking. Perhaps a reiteration of "Jewish community," with less-of-the-same, but with clearer focus, is sufficient to propel us into a meaning-saturated future; or, we may need a radical reorientation in our understanding of what it means to be Jewish today--or some re-imagination of the Jewish future which may or may not include either of these options. This paper will briefly examine these three paths.

Topic: Jewish Identification, Community Development, Jewish Organizations, Unity

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Genre: Article

Coverage: United States

Language: English

Copyright Holder: Author

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Bibliographic Information:
Herring, Hayim. The American Jewish Community's Next Stage. eJewish Philanthropy. 12 April 2010:


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