The Week's Most Viewed Publications

  1. Baby Boomers, Public Service, and Minority Communities: A Case Study of the Jewish Community in the United States (2010)
  2. The Torah View of Mental Illness: Sin or Sickness? (1977)
  3. U.S. Jewry 2010: Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Population (2011)
  4. Israeli and American Organizational Responses to Wife Abuse Among the Orthodox (2011)
  5. A Tale of Two Jewries: The "Inconvenient Truth" for American Jews (2006)
  6. Furthering Pluralistic Jewish Education in Israel: An Evaluation of the Meitarim School Network (2010)

PLO Representative Maen Areikat at BJPA

3-10-11 Edited to add: You can watch the ustream version below, with ads, or find the ad free version in our collection.  NYU Wagner has also made a podcast available.

On Wednesday March 2, 12:15 PM, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner and the Taub Center for Israel Studies at New York University will offer a "live stream" of an invitation-only talk with Ambassador Maen Rashid Areikat, Chief PLO Representative to the United States.

Entitled "The Palestinians and the American Jewish Community: A Challenging Relationship," the presentation will take place in front of a live audience of professors, students, Jewish communal leaders, journalists, and others. To see and hear this remarkable event, come back to this post, or go straight to

(Please note: Ustream shows about 30 seconds of advertising before beginning to stream the event, so please allow time for that. After that, it is possible to close the ad that appears along the bottom of the screen).

Video streaming by Ustream

"The Palestinians and the American Jewish Community: A Challenging Relationship" Presented by the Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner and the Taub Center for Israel Studies at New York University.

Wednesday March 2, 12:15pm EST. 

The Ambassador will engage with a diverse representation of people highly involved in Jewish communal life or in the academic study of Israel and the Middle East. Clearly, questions pertaining to the American Jewish relationship with Israel are high on the American Jewish communal policy agenda and the Ambassador will address one component of this relationship. This event, in line with the missions of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner and the Taub Center, seeks to elevate and inform discourse on Jewish communal policy. Ahead of the event, you may wish to read Mr. Areikat’s interview with David Samuels, published in Tablet Magazine.

Maen Rashid Areikat, PLO Representative to the United States


Maen Rashid Areikat was born October 12, 1960 in Jericho in the occupied West Bank. Prior to his appointment to Washington, Mr. Areikat served for 11 years at the Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD) of the PLO in Ramallah, most recently as its Deputy Head and Coordinator-General (2008-2009). Mr. Areikat first joined NAD in 1998, when it was headed by current Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and served as its Director-General until March 2008. In addition to overseeing NAD’s day-to-day operations, Mr. Areikat was responsible for overseeing the work of the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), which provides legal, policy, communication and technical support to Palestinian Negotiating Teams and to the Palestinian Leadership.

Prior to his service at NAD, Mr. Areikat spent five years at Orient House (1993-1998), the headquarters of the PLO in Jerusalem and of the Palestinian Negotiating Team to the Madrid peace talks. While at Orient House, he served as spokesperson for the late Mr. Faisal Husseini, former PLO Executive Committee member in charge of Jerusalem Affairs, and later as Desk Officer for the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa in Orient House’s International Relations Department. Mr. Areikat previously took part in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at Beit Hanoun in Gaza and Taba in Egypt in 1996, in Jerusalem in 1997 and was an official member of the Palestinian delegation to the Wye River negotiations in 1998.

During the course of his career, Mr. Areikat has traveled extensively throughout the region and abroad, including numerous official visits to Washington, DC and several European capitals, and has participated in various conferences and symposiums on the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Areikat earned his Bachelor of Science in Finance from Arizona State University (ASU) in 1983 and his MBA in management from Western International University in 1987. He received his diplomatic training at the Ministry of External Affairs in Ottawa, Canada in 1993 and 1994, and completed a training course in good governance at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2001.

The Week's Most Viewed Publications

Here are this week's five most frequently viewed publications on BJPA - Everyone else is checking these out, if you haven't, what will you have to talk about at the water cooler?? (Do workplaces still have water coolers?) 

  1. Unity and Polarization in Judaism Today: The Attitudes of American and Israeli Jews (1988)
  2. Jewish Futures Project: The Impact of Taglit-Birthright Israel: 2010 Update (2011)
  3. The Torah View of Mental Illness: Sin or Sickness? (1977)
  4. What Independent Minyanim Teach us about the Next Generation of Jewish Communities (2007)
  5. U.S. Jewry 2010: Estimates of the Size and Characteristics of the Population (2011)

A Few Romantic Reads...

Maybe you're all alone on this evening of Valentine's Day, and, naturally, hoping to spend a quiet evening reading some Jewish communal policy documents. (Nothing soothes lonely hearts like research.)

Or maybe you and your significant other are home from your candlelit dinner, and you're ready to open up a bottle of Bordeaux, slip into something a little more comfortable, and... read Jewish communal policy documents. (Nothing says romance like research.)

Either way, we have just what you're looking for. Why not start with "More than Chemistry: The Romantic Choices of American Jews", by Sylvia Barack Fishman? Then move on to "New Jewish Matchmaking: A Quantitative Analysis of JDate Users", by Miriam P. Friedman. If you're ready to commit to a longer-term read, you could take the plunge into the June 2010 issue of Sh'ma, which focuses on the theme of Kiddushin (Jewish marriage).

Of course, if those publications only make you yearn for more, we have enough documents under the "Marriage" topic to keep you reading all night long.

Cohen's Comments: Birthright & J Street

This week, Birthright Israel rejected J Street's bid to operate its own Birthright trip presenting Israel from a progressive viewpoint. (See this article.)

In the first installment of a BJPA original video series we're calling Cohen's Comments, BJPA Director Prof. Steven M. Cohen says Birthright is wrong not only for rejecting J Street in particular, but for its stance on the broader question of operating trips which present particular values and perspectives. Watch the video!


16K Berman Fellowship for Research on American Jewry

Are you doing doctoral research on the contemporary American Jewish community and could use $16,000?

We're glad to spread the news that one of our co-founders, Mandell Berman of the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation, is supporting the Association for Jewish Studies to sponsor a Fellowship for the study of North American Jewry.

(P.S. Don't forget to submit your research for inclusion on BJPA to share the fruits of your scholarship with the world).

Here is the announcement: 

The Association for Jewish Studies is pleased to announce the call for submissions for the Berman Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Support of Research in the Social Scientific Study of the Contemporary American Jewish Community. The application deadline is April 7, 2011

Fellowship Ad

 The Berman Fellowships – two awards of $16,000 for the 2011-12 academic year – aim to support the development and expansion of the field of the social scientific study of Jewish Americans and the contemporary Jewish-American experience; enhance funding opportunities for up-and-coming scholars in the midst of institutional cutbacks in higher education; and encourage graduate students in sociology, social psychology, social anthropology, demography, contemporary history, social work, political science, geography and education to expand their research to include the study of North American Jewry. Fellowships will be awarded for one academic year, with the possibility of renewal for a second year. Preference will be given to applicants seeking support for doctoral research, but requests for funding to support the writing phase of the dissertation will also be considered. Support for this project is generously provided by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation. Further information, including application instructions, can be found on the AJS website. Please contact Karen Terry, AJS Program and Membership Coordinator, at or 917.606.8249  if you have any questions regarding the application process or fellowship program.



"Resisting Re-ghettoization" Recap

Wagner Today, the student blog of NYU Wagner, provides a useful summary of yesterday's BJPA roundtable ("Resisting Re-ghettoization: From Without and Within") with journalist Yossi Klein Halevi:

The great post-Holocaust achievements were power and integration into the world community (and for American Jewry, the public space). Now both those achievements are under assault -- from without and from within. The legitimacy of Jewish power is questioned not only by the UN Human Rights Council, but also by increasing numbers of Jews. The integration of Jews into the world community is also under assault from without and within -- the diplomatic ghettoization of Israel, the growing power of the haredim and the religious right in Israel.

He emphasized that we need to re-commit the American Jewish-Israeli relationship to reaffirming Jewish power and the Jewish place in the community of nations. This means resisting the demonization from without -- and strengthening Jewish pluralism, especially religious pluralism in Israel.

Click here for their full summary, with a few pictures.

Tablet Magazine also covered the event.

Here came, for me, the most useful part of the conversation, because I got to see, in Halevi, something I had heretofore only read about: The widespread Israeli understanding of the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from all the Gaza settlements and a few in the West Bank as a complete disaster, which must never be repeated. “I don’t want Netanyahu to give anything away for free,” Halevi insisted, his voice carrying a harsh undercurrent for the only time that afternoon. The problem with extending the freeze for nothing in return, he said, is that the last time the settlements were put on hold—indeed, they were eliminated—in exchange for nothing, there were rockets; and then there was an attempt to stop the rockets; and then there was a near-total absence of international support for stopping the rockets; and then there was the Goldstone Report.

Read Marc Tracy's excellent overview of and commentary on the roundtable: Resisting ‘Re-Ghettoization’

General Assembly 2010 Resource Guide

We've prepared a Resource Guide for Jewish Federations of North America's 2010 General Assembly in New Orleans. Session by session, we provide interesting and relevant links to BJPA resources. For example:

GA Resources

If you're headed there, or even if not, we hope you'll find it useful. Best wishes for a fruitful, productive, and enriching gathering!

JData: Welcome aboard!

Today was the official launch of, a Brandeis Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and Jim Joseph Foundation  project designed to democratize the collection and distribution of data on Jewish educational institutions in the United States.

Schools, synagogues, community centers, and agencies set up profiles with any demographic and institutional data they choose to share. In return, they get access to the (anonymized) data of other institutions. For example, a part time school that has entered data about its student enrollment and funding can run a query that compares itself to other part time schools with a similar student body size. It can generate reports on comparison, and internal, data to share with its board or funders. Agencies and philanthropists can run searches to find out how the majority of children in their community are being served, in what size institutions, what class sizes, and so on. Parents can run searches for part time schools with resources for special needs students or social justice emphasis. Researchers can easily identify institutions and contact people for studies.

JData, like BJPA, is attempting to leverage modern technology to serve the needs of Jewish community leaders, scholars, and organizations. As a community, we love to study ourselves, and talk and read about ourselves - bookstores tend to have Judaica sections all out of proportion to the ratio of Jews in the larger population. And yet, basic information can be suprisingly hard to access. At the launch, Professor Leonard Saxe noted that almost a day doesn't go by when he doesn't get a query from a Jewish journalist about schools/enrollment, etc, in a particular area, and when he can answer, it's never without caveats about the accuracy of the data. We are just starting to set up infrastructure to collect, store, and make information accessible. And the investment is considerable - about 1.5M has been invested in the project so far.

The website is aesthetically and functionally very user friendly, but its usefulness depends on the choice of Jewish educational institutions to enter, update, and share their data. Confidentiality of data is a priority, but with restrictions, most of the data will be accessible to anybody, institutionally affiliated or not (a free registration is required). The hope is that institutions will find the site useful enough for their own internal purposes that they will keep their information accurate and up to date.

This new technological age is revolutionizing the possibilities access to information and data, and the potential impact on Jewish community and education work is, I think it's fair to say, incalculable. BJPA is glad and proud to be part of that movement alongside JData, and thankful for the visionary support of funders like our own, the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation and the Revson Foundation, as well as the Jim Joseph Foundation who are behind JData.

Invitation/Reminder: Wednesday Webinar on Middle East Peace Negotiations

Professor David Makovsky will discuss "Middle East Peace Negotiations: Is There A Chance For Success?" on Wednesday at 12pm Eastern Time.

David Makovsky is the Ziegler distinguished fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process. He is also an adjunct lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He is the co-author with Dennis Ross of the recently released book, Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction in the Middle East (Viking/Penguin), as well as many other publications.

Click here to RSVP or for more information.

6,000 Documents!

The 1948 volume of the Jewish Social Service Quarterly put us over the top! If you're interested in the post-war Jewish community's responses to European child refugees, social services and care for children living in Europe, American Jewish juvenile delinquents or the contemporary take on Old Age Homes (and more), take a look. Or browse through all our recent additions.

On Digital Word Clouds, Ancient Manuscripts, and the Privilege of Living Today

I just stumbled across Sixty-Six Clouds: Visualizing Word Frequency in the Bible, a site that has generated a word cloud for each of the 66 books of the Christian Bible (39 "Old Testament", 27 New Testament).

In case you're unfamiliar with the concept, a word cloud is a computer-generated image of many words of different sizes, which gives you, at a glance, a picture of which words are used most frequently in any given text: a newspaper article, or a political speech, or an author's oeuvre, or -- in this case -- the Word of God. The more frequently a word is used in the text, the larger it appears in the word cloud, allowing the viewer an instant and visceral appreciation of word frequency, and, one hopes, some new insight as to the content of the text. Sixty-Six Clouds (henceforth SSC) generated their Biblical word clouds using, a free online service that lets users enter any text to create instant word clouds. For their source text, SSC used the New International Version of the Bible.

I found the Old Testament section of SSC simultaneously fascinating and frustrating. On the fascinating side, it was neat to see prominent themes at play in various books of Tanach represented with such visual simplicity. For example, you can see at a glance that one or the other (or both) of the names "God" and "Lord" (standing for Elo--him and the Tetragrammaton, respectively) tends to dominate each book of Tanach, with the arresting and much-noted exception of Esther. You can also see the prominence of "father" in Genesis, of "Moses" in Exodus, of "offering" in Leviticus and Numbers, and of "land" in Deuteronomy. Less obvious themes also appear: I was surprised to see that "gold" seemed to be just as large in the Exodus word cloud as was the word "Israelites". And the enormous stature of the word "king" in the book of Esther, dwarfing all other words, lends special resonance to the famous midrashic view that instances of the word "king" in the megilla are hidden references to the King of kings, despite the lack of any plain-text reference to God.

On the frustrating end, seeing these images only makes one wish for a similar treatment of the Masoretic Hebrew text itself. For the record, does allow users to create word clouds using Hebrew text, but in quite a useless way. The same verb in different conjugations is counted as two different words. For example, I gave Wordle, in Hebrew, the famous verse Lamentations 5:21, "make us return/repent to you, God, and we will be returned/repented; renew our days as of old," and, sure enough, it created a word cloud that counts "make us return/repent" and "and we will be returned/repented" as different words. Prefixes and suffixes wreak similar havoc, rendering Wordle useless for Hebrew text. (Does  anyone know of some equivalent Israeli site for Hebrew text?)

Despite this limitation, I found SSC to be quite an interesting exercise. It got me thinking: what would Ezra, or the Rambam, or the Vilna Gaon, have thought of this kind of analytical technology and possibility? Would any of them object to the instant gratification factor, or to the surface illusion of instant understanding? Or would they have sanctioned the use of such tools as a supplement to (without being a replacement for) traditional study?

My own view is that, whatever drawbacks there may be to the digital age (and these drawbacks may be real), I feel profoundly blessed to live in it. The BJPA's resources on the topic of technology reveal that the Jewish community is expanding its capacities in many incredible new directions. Read, for example, this exciting glimpse into how the Center for Online Jewish Studies is making high-quality photographs of original ancient manuscripts available to everyone, everywhere. (And check out the Great Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls, in beautiful photographic reproduction of the original.)

We at the BJPA aim to be part of this exciting and important trend ourselves, making available Jewish policy documents from across a great and growing range of time, space and topic.

Imagine what the great Jewish scholars of the distant past could have done with these tools and resources. If we who live today fail to become the great Jewish scholars of the present and future, it will not be for lack of tech support. This incredible good fortune should give us pause, and inspire us to take advantage of these opportunities.

User registration and new features online!

We are so glad to announce and invite you to try our new features!

Bookshelf – Keep track of articles you found interesting or useful and come back to them easily using the BJPA bookshelf function.

Bibliography – Preparing a syllabus? Want to direct students or colleagues to relevant sources? Need a quick reference for yourself? Create, customize, and share an unlimited number of bibliographies of document records.

When you are logged in, you will have the option of adding any article to a bibliography or to the bookshelf from its document record page. Access your bookshelf, bibliographies, profile, and website preferences through the new Tools tab that will appear along the top right side of the screen.

Register to use these features: Registration has reached 5,000 documents!

Somewhere between "Confrontation in a Jewish Center Between a Resolution on Equal Opportunities and Practical Reality" (1965) and "How To: Create Your Own Denomination" (2010), we hit a new milestone - 5,000 documents online! Come and explore!

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