Top 20 Downloads of 2012

In case you missed our email last week, here are the 20 publications downloaded most often by BJPA users in 2012:

1 Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy 
     (Haym Soloveitchik

2.  The Limmud International Study: Jewish Learning Communities on a  Global Scale
     (Steven M. CohenEzra Kopelowitz)

3.  Profiling the Professionals: Who's Serving Our Communities? (Steven M. Cohen  


4.  Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel
     (Steven M. CohenAri Y. Kelman) 


5.  Camp Works: The Long-Term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp  

     (Steven M. CohenRon MillerIra M. SheskinBerna Torr)  


6.  Jewish Population in the United States, 2011 (Ira SheskinArnold Dashefsky)


7.   Generation of Change: How Leaders in their Twenties and Thirties are Reshaping American Jewish Life  (Jack Wertheimer)


8.  Moving Beyond the Limited Reach of Current "Social Media" Approaches: Why Jewish Digital Communities Require Rich and Remixable Narrative Content  
(Owen Gottlieb)


9.  Language Syncretism and the Hybridization of Religious Jewish Identity in Postmodern America (Chaya Nove)


10.Matrilineal Ascent/Patrilineal Descent: The Gender Imbalance in American Jewish Life (Sylvia Barack FishmanDaniel Parmer)  


11.  Modern Orthodoxy and the Challenges to Its Establishment: An interview with Marc B. Shapiro (Manfred GerstenfeldMarc B. Shapiro)  


12. The Jewish Demography of Florida (Ira M. Sheskin)


13. Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring 2012 American Jews' Political Values Survey
      (Steven M. CohenSamuel Abrams)  


14.  Defining Israel Education (Bethamie Horowitz)


15. Building a Base of Reform Jewish Leadership: An Impact Study of Three Youth Programs (Samantha M. Pohl)   


16. Three Questions: Orthodoxy's Power, and After (Yehudah Mirsky)


17. Demography of the Contemporary Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora (Mark Tolts) 


18. Sh'ma January 2012: The Jewish Electorate 2012--Complete Issue 


19. Creating an Open Orthodox Rabbinate (Dov LinzerAvi Weiss)  


20. The Future of Reform Jewry: An interview with Rabbi David Ellenson
      (David EllensonManfred Gerstenfeld

Jewish Shrines (BJPA Roulette)



BJPA Roulette is a safer and more informative alternative to its Russian counterpart. It is ideal for Jewish communal procrastinators, and perhaps even for new forms of occult divination. (BJPA takes no legal, moral or spiritual responsibility for predictions derived from our Random Publication feature.) To play, simply go to and let blind fate recommend a publication.

I've just done so, and I landed on Living Room: Shrines, by Vanessa L. Ochs.

Jews, in theory, don’t make shrines; in reality, of course, we do — we just don’t talk about them. Our shrines are spiritual agents that construct our religious and cultural identities, that prompt ethical and holy response, and that foster connections between oneself and the community. Sometimes we amass photos of our ancestors to look over us, interceding with God on our behalf at the hot moments of our lives. We may assemble the Rosh Hashanah cards we received on the mantelpiece, with hopes that the wishes they have extended for a good, sweet year will come true. We may keep out various Israeli souvenirs, trinkets, and ritual objects we have collected: the Hebrew Coca-Cola can, the decoupage hamsa, the mezuzah purchased in the Cardo...

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Play BJPA Roulette:

Top Ten Downloads of 2011

Thank you for making 2011 BJPA's biggest year yet. You and over 40,000 other users have visited since January 1, 2011.

Every month, we on the BJPA staff select publications from our holdings on a different topic to share with you in our newsletter. But here at year's end, we thought we'd let you select some publications. So here's a list you created, with assistance from forty thousand of your closest friends:

The Top Ten Publications Downloaded from BJPA in 2011

1. Volunteering + Values: A Repair the World Report on Jewish Young Adults. Fern Chertok, Matthew Boxer, Josh Tobias, Jim Gerstein, Shirah Rosin. Gerstein|Agne Strategic Communications, CMJS, Repair the World, June 201.

2. Generation of Change: How Leaders in their Twenties and Thirties are Reshaping American Jewish Life. Jack Wertheimer. Avi Chai Foundation, September 2010.

3. Los Angeles Jewish Population Survey '97. Pini Herman. The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, 1998.

4. Six Key Trends Transforming Jewish Philanthropy. Lisa Eisen. The Foundation Center, February 2011.

5. The Demise of the "Good Jew": Remarks upon Receiving the 2010 Marshall Sklare Award from the ASSJ. Steven M. Cohen. ASSJ, BJPA, December 2010.

6. Demography of the Contemporary Russian-Speaking Jewish Diaspora. Mark Tolts, 2011.

7. Camp Works: The Long-Term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp. Steven M. Cohen, Ron Miller, Ira M. Sheskin, Berna Torr. Foundation for Jewish Camp, Spring 2011

8. Are Young American Jews in the Diaspora Distancing from Israel? Colloquium Report. Esther Farber, Idon Natazon. American Jewish Committee (AJC), March 2011.

9. Making Jewish Education Work: Jewish Service Learning. JESNA, January 2011.

10. Moving Beyond the Limited Reach of Current "Social Media" Approaches: Why Jewish Digital Communities Require Rich and Remixable Narrative Content. Owen Gottlieb. CCAR, Spring 2011.

Happy new year!

(P.S. Repair Labs beat us to posting these on a blog.)

Rebbetzin Redux

Our new BJPA Project Assistant, Jessica Cavanagh-Melhado, was profiled today in the Forward's Sisterhood blog, for her writing (along with co-blogger Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez) at Redefining Rebbetzin.

Melissa: There is this old stereotype of a rebbetzin being a frumpy woman who stays at home, cooking with kids hanging from her skirt — and one look at our blog will tell you that that is far from who we are! A big part of what we’re exploring is how people view contemporary rebbetzins and contrast that with this Old World sterotype. I don’t think we could have dreamed it would be in the place it is not just a year and a half into it!

Jessica: There’s the new phenomenon in the traditional world of women leaders in congregations, and having to figure out the role of their spouses. Those two things together I think formed the kernel of this idea. There is a lot of ground between what women and men out there are experiencing and what the traditional notion is, and that’s really interesting. The dynamic of two friends ending up married to two guys who want to be rabbis seemed a little unlikely, given our backgrounds. It really compelled us to share our stories.

What’s your definition of feminism? Is this a feminist project?

Melissa: Feminism is about empowering women to be whoever they are, wherever they are, in a way which is fulfilling to them. It’s not about being “equal” to men; that implies that women are inherently less than men and we have to do things in a more masculine way to be the best women we can be. Choosing to be a religious working woman who dreams of being able to both work to support her family and to be able to spend the formative years of her (future) children’s lives with them is embracing feminism.

Jessica: We’re married women living in religious communities that are struggling with the role of women. This is somewhat of a feminist project, since it gives us a platform to grapple with community norms and halachic issues. Child-rearing is a feminist issue; we can’t talk about advancing women in positions of power if we don’t talk about the lack of affordable child care and helping women create balance in their home lives.

Read the whole interview here.

Kol hakavod to Jessica -- who, by the way, is not the only rebbetzin on the BJPA staff. Our fearless leader, BJPA Director Prof. Steven M. Cohen, is also a rebbetzin; he is married to Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen.

September 19: Debating Key Questions of Research and Jewish Education

Symposium flier

Click here to RSVP.

Four Decades of Vital Jewish Discourse


If you subscribe to our newsletter, then you already know that the journal Sh'ma and BJPA have recently officially launched the complete collection of the journal, from its inception in 1970 until the latest issue. Read the press release here.

This collection has already become a crucial part of BJPA's overall holdings -- not only in size (Sh'ma articles currently make up over a third of BJPA publications), but also in broadening the scope of the archive. A bird's-eye view of the context of Sh'ma within our other holdings will help to explain:

Our other largest single content contributor, the Journal of Jewish Communal Service (with its predecessors, Jewish Social Service Quarterly and the Bulletin of the National Conference of Jewish Communal Service) is professionally oriented, and for much of its history, focuses mainly on social work. Many other of our publications are studies, reports, surveys, and other research-oriented publications. (For a few recent examples, see Limud by the Lake Revisited or Child Poverty and Deprivation in the British Jewish Community.) Also common among BJPA publications are professional analyses and recommendations. (For example, see this AJC Statement on Religious Pluralism, or Celebrating Distinctions: A Strategic Plan for the LGBT Alliance.)

Each of these types of publication (and more) provides a different kind of perspective on topics of Jewish policy. One element that makes Sh'ma unique among these sources, however -- and one reason that this launch is so significant -- is that Sh'ma is a platform for such a diverse range of approaches. Academic research is important, but so are the free-wheeling commentaries on traditional texts in Sh'ma's NiSh'ma series. Professional best practices and social work methodologies are important, but so are the more informal reactions of influential Jewish leaders and authors to the pressing issues of the day. Detailed analyses and reccommendations are important, but so are the dynamic and multi-voiced debates presented in the pages of any given issue of Sh'ma on any given topic.

Additionally, and not unimportantly, Sh'ma is reader-oriented and accessible. To be sure, the journal is policy-relevant and substantive, but it is also  accessible to the general reader in a way which some of our other material is not. This is not an insult to that less accessible material; professional literature and social science demand a high level of detail. But as we officially launch the complete Sh'ma collection, it's important to recognize that emphasizing strong writing (as Sh'ma consistently does) can also be a powerful policy tool.

The Week's Most Viewed Publications

A bit of an international/historical angle this last week, along with some bonus reflections on the father/son dynamics of circumcision.

  1. The Future of Foreskins (2002), Daniel S. Brenner
  2. Evaluation of the Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project: Promoting Retention of Pardes Educator Program Alumni (2011), Ezra Kopelowitz, Stephen Markowitz
  3. The International Migration Factor: Causes and Consequence (1977), Gaynor I. Jacobson
  4. World Jewish Population, 2010 (2010) Sergio DellaPergola
  5. Russian Jews in America: Status, Identity and Integration (2004), Sam Kliger

The Week's Most Viewed Publications

The capture and killing of Bin Laden, Yom HaShoah, the Royal Wedding, a return to hametz, and... maybe some fundraising concerns?  It was a big week. Here's what you were reading:

  1. Six Key Trends Transforming Jewish Philanthropy (2011), Lisa Eisen
  2. Jewish Morale in the Present Situation (1937), Morris D. Waldman
  3. Contact: The Journal of the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life -- New Trends in Fundraising (2010) Robert P. Aronson, Marjorie Kaplan, Naomi Levine, Gail G. Littman, Jeffrey R. Solomon
  4. Sunsetting a Foundation (2011), Mem D. Bernstein
  5. Patterns of Singularity: The Motivations of Independent Jewish Funders in Times of Economic Distress (2009), Dasee Berkowitz, Steven M. Cohen

The Week's Most Viewed Publications

Happy Passover!

  1. Jews Look at Egypt Today: A Survey of American Jewish Leaders (2011), Samuel Abrams, Steven M. Cohen
  2. Passover, a Lesson In Inclusiveness (2009), Adam Bronfman, Kerry M. Olitzky
  3. Keeping Peace at the Seder Table (1984) Sally Shafton
  4. The Jewish Innovation Economy: An Emerging Market for Knowledge and Social Capital (2011), Joshua Avedon, Ariel Groveman Weiner, Felicia Herman, Shawn Landres, Dana Raucher
  5. Is Every Seder Kosher for Passover? (1999), A. James Rudin


BJPA Survey: US Jewish Leaders of Two Minds on Egypt

As American Jews prepare for the Passover Seder and the recounting of the Exodus of their ancestors from Egypt, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner has released the results of a new survey of American Jewish leaders demonstrating American Jews are of two minds about recent developments in Egypt. On the one hand, they warmly greet the apparent turn to democracy and human rights. At the same time, they are unsure of the implications for Israel and the Jewish State’s long-standing peace treaty with Egypt.

Moreover, American Jews split sharply along political lines. The politically conservative and Republican partisans fear that the developments will undermine Egypt’s commitment to maintaining its non-belligerent approach toward Israel and are skeptical about the likelihood of advancing democracy and human rights in Egypt. To be sure, situated between the two poles of cautious celebration and watchful skepticism is the “modal middle” of American Jewish leadership, characterized by ambiguity, ambivalence, and indecision.

These findings emerge from an online, opt-in survey of Jewish leaders conducted by Professors Steven M. Cohen of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner and Samuel Abrams, who is Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Politics, Sarah Lawrence College. Fielded by Research Success Technologies of Israel under the direction of Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz, the survey was conducted in March, 2011, before the role of the Muslim Brotherhood came into sharper focus. The survey of non-random lists of Jewish leaders elicited responses from 1,859 respondents.

Download the full press release and full survey results here.

The Week's Most Viewed Publications

  1. American Judaism: Changing Patterns in Denominational Self-Definition (1992), Arnold Eisen
  2. Jewish American Playmate: Is a Nude Jewish Centerfold Really a Watershed for American Judaism? (2001), Bradley Hirschfield (Really?? Again?)
  3. Kitsch, Schmaltz, and Other Jewish Values (1996), David Klinghoffer
  4. Synagogues and Federations: From Rivals to Partners (2010), Richard Jacobs
  5. Reframing the Study of Contemporary American Jewish Identity (2002), Bethamie Horowitz


The Week's Most Viewed Publications

It's still a (straight) man's world.

  1. American Jewry and the State of Israel: How Intense the Bonds of Peoplehood? (2008), Steven Bayme
  2. Synagogues and Federations: From Rivals to Partners (2010), Richard Jacobs
  3. Jewish American Playmate: Is a Nude Jewish Centerfold Really a Watershed for American Judaism? (2001), Bradley Hirschfield (It's okay, we know you're reading BJPA for the articles).
  4. God's Favorite: Rosh Hashanah 5771 (2010), Richard Jacobs
  5. Are Synagogues Still Relevant? (2011), Sidney Schwarz


The Week's Most Viewed Publications

Richard Jacobs (Union for Reform Judaism's new president), Aristides de Sousa Mendes (righteous gentile who saved 30k people), and hamentaschen.

  1. Synagogues and Federations: From Rivals to Partners (2010), Richard Jacobs
  2. Reinstating the Name and Honor of a Portuguese Diplomat Who Rescued Jews During World War II: Community Social Work Strategies (2008), Robert Jacobvitz
  3. Reconstructionism and Conservative Judaism (1984), Sidney Schwarz
  4. The True History of Hamantaschen (1994), Shalom Ben Velvel
  5. God's Favorite: Rosh Hashanah 5771 (2010), Richard Jacobs


The Week's Most Viewed Publications

Earthquake week - continuing to be all too relevant. Our thoughts are with Japan.

  1. Report Concerning Suffering Jews in San Francisco Earthquake and Fire (1907)
  2. Camp Works: The Long-Term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp (2011)
  3. Be the Jew You Make: Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness in Post-Ethnic America (2011)
  4. The True History of Hamantaschen (1994)


The Week's Most Viewed Publications

  1. Camp Works: The Long-Term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp (2011)
  2. Be the Jew You Make: Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness in Post-Ethnic America (2011)
  3. Israeli and American Organizational Responses to Wife Abuse Among the Orthodox (2011)
  4. Beyond Distancing: Young Adult American Jews and Their Alienation from Israel (2007)
  5. Jewish Futures Project: The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel: 2010 Updates (2011)
  6. Editor's Introduction to Jewish Identity (2011)

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