Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Daniel Elazar Papers Index

Jewish Community Studies

Organizational and Philanthropic Behavior
of the North American Jewish Community

Daniel J. Elazar

One of the great successes of the North American Jewish community in both the United States and Canada, each in its own way, has been its successful organization entirely along voluntary principles and practices.1 The success of Jews in both countries in that regard must stand as one of the amazing chapters in Jewish history: organizing entirely on a voluntary basis with no possibility or desire to gain the backing of or to use the coercive powers of government. The American Jewish community over the past one hundred years and the Canadian Jewish community over the past eighty have built organizational structures that have served to mobilize American and Canadian Jews to confront some of the most difficult challenges in Jewish history and to make major contributions toward meeting those challenges.

These efforts have been anchored in the philanthropic impulses of North American Jewry who from their very earliest years in the New World were prepared to make serious efforts to help their brethren, first at home and then increasingly abroad as well as the most serious problems shifted to the international arena. The magnitude of their success has only begun to be recognized in the past thirty years since Israel's Six-Day War led to an especial outpouring of activity which we label "philanthropic" but undoubtedly deserves recognition as more existential.

Surveys of the kind collected by the North American Jewish Data Bank have not and cannot tell us very much about the history and development of organizations. This is done through historical or political science studies of the organizations themselves or studies of the organized Jewish community, of which there are perhaps ten particularly useful ones ranging from this writer's Community and Polity to organizational histories of the American Jewish Committee and the Joint Distribution by Naomi Cohen, Herbert Agar, and Yehudah Bauer.2

On a different level there are local community histories and some histories of local organizations.3 Many of these tend to be hagiographic or filiopietistic. Some are first rate but do not focus on organizational behavior. Taken together they can offer an insight into the organized American Jewish community at one level.

As the demographic surveys countrywide and local have been extended to examine the demography of American Jewry in more sophisticated ways, we have begun to acquire information about Jewish organizational membership. Those questions of whether individuals belong to organizations rarely specify what organizations are involved. The matter is somewhat better in connection with synagogues since the question is designed to identify synagogue members and either at the same point or elsewhere, what branch of American Judaism they are associated with. There is also a subjective response to the question of contributions to Federations which normally prove membership in their wake. Since in every case the answers are subjective, they are, to some extent, problematic.

As measures have become more sophisticated, it is also more apparent that the period has a generalized timeline pattern.4 In this case the older Jews tend to belong to organizations, younger Jews do not.5 It seems that the very success of the organized Jewish community in confronting the great challenges of relief, rescue, and rehabilitation, fighting anti-Semitism, assisting the State of Israel, and helping Jews from lands of persecution find refuge elsewhere have been so successful that the burning passion they stimulated among Jews to act on behalf of their brethren has substantially subsided, while the continued Americanization of American Jews has led the younger generation more and more to pursue their own private goals rather than collective ones of Jewish peoplehood. Furthermore, because the United States has so opened up to Jews, they can pursue those goals in the general American as well as the Jewish field, which they do in increasing proportions.

Survey data is more helpful on the issues of philanthropic behavior. Especially as surveys are becoming more sophisticated, they have measured aid to Jewish causes against giving to others, as well as measuring Jewish causes for themselves. Fifty-five years ago at the end of World War II, the encounter with Holocaust survivors led to a maximum effort to secure Israel as a Jewish state and build it as the Jewish national home, and led to a decline in support for less compelling philanthropic tasks. For thirty years it was just that.

It was only after the Six-Day War that Jewish leaders and activists began to realize that they were not simply being philanthropists but were helping make Jewish history. Fifteen years later, Israel began to lose its favored position as the most compelling aspect of Jewish philanthropy, party because of growing North American Jewish disagreement with what was happening in Israel along several fronts: religion and state, peace and war, and foreign policy. 6

The earliest surveys contained very basic data on Jews' contribution behavior, but as survey techniques have progressed, we have gotten more solid information including in some cases the direction of their contributions. By and large, we see an increase among givers of contributions to general American philanthropic purposes and a consequent decline in contributions to strictly Jewish purposes. Moreover, strictly Jewish purposes are increasingly domestic in nature rather than Israel- or overseas-oriented. The crises of the new generation began in the mid-1970s with the dramatic increase in intermarriage and the studies recognizing the high cost of Jewish living brought an increasing number of American Jews to favor supporting American Jewish causes rather than others. This was enhanced by the demise of the sense of urgency in connection with Israel and overseas Jewry as people wanted more money devoted to outreach to the non-affiliated or the intermarried, to Jewish education generally, to Israel experience trips more particularly, and for scholarships to help deserving young Jews better utilize the expensive Jewish facilities. In sum, these changes reflected (1) a change of priorities within the Jewish community from Israel and overseas to domestic, and (2) a change in the priorities of individuals from strictly or principally Jewish to contributing across the spectrum of North American concerns that interested them.

In the process, the Federations themselves changed. From fundraising and allocating mechanisms they became Jewish welfare federations. Then they became the address for major fundraising for Israel and overseas relief. Finally, after World War II, they moved into community planning and, after the Six-Day War, into community leadership as what may be referred to as the framing institutions of the Jewish community.

The consequence of all of this was that Federation campaigns, which had been "flat" for some time, became flatter or even lost ground relative to the value of the dollar. More Jews began contributing outside the Federation framework to causes that interested them individually and in which they were able to obtain some kind of recognition for their efforts.

The Federation idea itself is a product of American Progressivism. The Federations were born during the height of the Progressive era. They embodied the same understanding of efficiency and economy, philanthropic probity, community building, and civic involvement that characterized American Progressivism in all fields. Indeed, the Jewish community may have been the most successful of all American groups in its adoption and assimilation of Progressive ideas into its institutions and institutional culture.

The Progressive era encompassed the first years of the chronological twentieth century until World War I. Progressives represented the effort of middle-class reformers to cope with the problems of the new urban industrial society in the United States through the strengthening of local, particularly voluntary or public non-governmental institutions. The Progressives believed that communities, properly led, could contribute much to the resolution of the problems of urban life in an industrial age. In this they sought to restore the original meaning of public, which included both governmental and voluntary activity.

This provided an excellent form for American Jews to adopt. The traditional kehillah, whose origins were in Babylonia in the sixth century BCE after the destruction of the First Temple, and which reached its apogee between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, was autonomous and compulsory for all Jews. That is to say, Jews were recognized by their host nations as a nation in exile, subject to local rulers, on one hand, but with substantial rights of self-government, on the other.

Not only that, but every Jew had to belong to the kehillah in which he or she resided if they wanted to remain Jewish. Since there was no way to leave the Jewish people except by converting to another religion, this effectively meant that anyone who did not want to become a Christian or a Muslim was subject to the authority of the kehillah.

The kehillah system began to break down in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at the opening of the modern epoch as nation-states emerged and eliminated the idea of different laws for different groups in their boundaries in favor of the principle of one national law for all. Still, in Europe most Jews continued to be required to belong to their kehillah just as Christians were subject to the discipline of their churches. Only in the English-speaking world was this never the case because the Jewish communities in that world were entirely modern. Indeed, the most extreme example of this "free market" of identification was the United States.7

Everything the Jews tried to do to modify that free and open market failed because of the legal and constitutional principles upon which the United States was founded. Thus, the Progressive offered a way to organize a Jewish community and to give it as much power as possible in a voluntary society while providing avenues for applying social pressure to those who wished to be connected with it.

This Progressive approach to the issues of Jewish community building and community service was successful for a century and a very exciting, dynamic, and historic century it has been for American Jewry and the Jewish people as a whole. Now, however, the Progressive solution is unraveling. As times have changed, the situation of the American Jewish community is no longer that of a community of immigrants but a community of pacesetters, fully integrated into American life. Not only that, but the world has changed many times over in its technology, in its social patterns, and in its political and moral expectations (e.g., the empowerment of women in organizational life).

While Jewish community federations have survived these changes better than most, still their situation has become more difficult as they try to implement the old models in a new environment. Realtors tell us that when it comes to buying property, the three most important considerations are "location, location, and location." This may be said for all human activities if we understand that for other human activities the three "locations" embrace location in space, location in time, and location in culture.

The Federations were born as the Jews had relocated themselves in space from Europe to North America at a time when America was becoming a world power and Progressivism was its dominant domestic ideal, in a very different cultural atmosphere than that which prevailed in America after World War I and that was again transformed in the 1960s. Consequently all of these locations have changed, even if our communities seem to be in the same general physical places that they were at the beginning of the twentieth century. For example, the space of "Chicago Jewry" is no longer simply in Jewish residential ghettos in Chicago but is diffused throughout a metropolitan region only part of which is within the Jewish United Fund of Greater Chicago service area. The Jews of greater Chicago have been much affected by globalization. Many of them now reside in Florida, California, and other parts of the United States, perhaps even commuting back and forth between the Chicago area and those other places. Many are closely connected with Israel and quite a few have children who have settled there. Hence their spatial perceptions have been altered by these and other changes which in turn have altered their location in time, which passes whether we like it or not, and brings its changes whether we like them or not.

After a century of looking toward government or public non-governmental activities for major initiatives, we have entered into an era of privatization. From federated giving, Federation's potential constituents have come to desire pinpointing their philanthropy and gain "hands-on" contact with the recipients of their contributions. Rather than seeking communal activities for their pleasure, they seek private ones, joining with the community only for certain kinds of "happenings" that appeal to them.

Because the Jewish community is more than simply a religion but also has ethnic and communal dimensions that are both part of and stand somewhat separate from Jewish religion, American Jewry articulates itself in a far more complex manner than perhaps any other group in the American mosaic and needs to be studied and measured accordingly.

With all its seeming disorganization, in fact, American Jewry organizes itself to be active in five spheres:

  1. The religious-congregational sphere
  2. The education-cultural sphere
  3. The community relations-defense sphere
  4. The communal-welfare sphere
  5. The Israel-overseas sphere

1. The Religious-Congregational Sphere consists primarily of synagogues and synagogue movements, the latter essentially countrywide confederations of like-minded congregations.8 Jewish religion is congregational. Any group of Jews who desire to may organize themselves into a congregation, choose a rabbi to their liking, and maintain a range of Jewish activities centered on religious worship but far from confined to that. This congregational system has been ideal for the American environment where it fits in with the "free market" of American religious expression. Hence, from the first it became the nuclear form of Jewish life in America.

Today, all but the smallest Jewish communities normally have two or more congregations and the larger communities many, reflecting not only the different branches of Judaism but the nuances within each, and the different worship styles that different groups of Jews choose for themselves. Still, for most Jews, the congregation still remains the nucleus of Jewish religious and communal life.

Most of the details and statistics that we have on organizational and philanthropic behavior deal with synagogues, synagogue movements, and their members. While most of those statistics are also subjective and must be used carefully, we do have reasonable estimates of synagogue membership in different religious movements and some information about dues and contributions.9

The vast majority of American Jews who affiliate with synagogues are either Reform or Conservative. The two movements are approximately equal in size and each represents about 40 percent of the affiliated. The major Reform synagogue association is the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the major Conservative is the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Approximately 10 percent are Orthodox, whose congregations are either in the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, in Young Israel, or associated with one or another of the ultra-Orthodox groups that include followers of the Lithuanian yeshivot (academies for Torah study) or one or another of the hassidic movements of which there are perhaps half a dozen that "count." Much smaller are the Reconstructionist movement, the Union for Traditional Judaism, and various "New Age" fellowships. With the exception of the various ultra-Orthodox movements which have significant power lodged in their national (indeed, in some cases international) leadership, in all of the other movements the real repository of authority and power remains in the individual congregations and the national movements are merely confederations of their respective affiliated congregations.

2. The educational-cultural sphere. Because of its character as a text-based religion where to be religiously knowledgeable one must study and know the sacred texts including the Bible, the Talmud, the great Codes, and the religious commentators on all of the above to be considered a truly educated Jew capable of fulfilling the religious commandments properly. The task of doing so is compounded by the fact that these texts should be studied in their original form, and that the originals are written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Hence Jewish education takes up a large proportion of the involvement time of Jews relative to other religions. Traditionally, textual study is considered as important as prayer if not more so. After a period in which the drive for Americanization reduced the amount of textual study that Jews undertook, to the barest minimum, it is once again becoming fashionable for committed Jews of all stripes to engage in such study, whether in Hebrew and Aramaic or in English translation. Indeed, one of the achievements of American Jewry in recent decades has been the translation of much of the vast corpus of a textual tradition that goes back over 3,000 years.

Jewish education in the United States has three principal components:

  1. elementary education for the young,
  2. academic education, and
  3. continuing education

We have some statistical data on all three.10 Elementary and secondary statistics for all forms of Jewish schools are collected by the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). Most of the information is based upon estimates provided by local institutions. Statistics on those enrolled in college and university courses are technically available from the various institutions that offer them, but since these courses range from some that are really sub-academic to the most advanced graduate studies, those statistics have to be collected and classified through additional research. To the best of my knowledge there is very little data on continuing education.

1. Elementary education for children and teenagers, mostly carried out through supplementary schools conducted in each congregation, meeting on Sundays and one or two weekdays after the hours of public school and increasingly in Jewish day schools which provide both general and Jewish studies. Day schools now enroll some 25 percent of students receiving a basic Jewish education, most in six to eight-year elementary frameworks and some in high schools. The major Jewish religious movements maintain day schools and the Jewish community as a whole maintains some community day schools as well. Orthodox Jews have the highest percentage of their membership enrolled in day schools, all of which emphasize textual study in the original. The Reform movement has the lowest percentage of its members enrolled in day schools since it has only recently begun to advocate day school education as a means of providing a more enriched Jewish education than is possible in the supplementary schools.

2. Since the late 1960s, courses in Judaic studies at general colleges and universities have become a major vehicle for the Jewish education of young adult Jews. These courses can be taken while Jewish students are enrolled in programs designed to give them a general education and to prepare them for their careers, and are taught on an academic level. Most Jewish students found taking these courses take only one or two survey courses or courses on such contemporary topics as the Holocaust or women in Judaism and rarely acquire much Jewish textual knowledge. A smaller number pursue majors in Jewish studies at the undergraduate level or prepare for careers in Jewish life at the graduate level and sustain more elaborated programs in Judaic studies which do bring them in contact with a wider segment of the corpus of Jewish civilization.

In addition, there are some colleges and universities under Jewish auspices which offer more substantial programs usually based on a knowledge of Hebrew. These are mostly communal and nondenominational in orientation. For the ultra-Orthodox and those attracted to that way of life there are higher yeshivot which serve as academies for Torah learning. Students in these program often become the leaders and standard-bearers in the Jewish community as a whole and in its several religious sub-communities.

3. Adult continuing education is less formal than either of the first two and includes many home and synagogue study groups and courses that meet weekly to provide Jewish learning in a somewhat social setting. For most American Jews it is in these settings that contact with the core of the tradition is facilitated. While most of these are also devoted to text and language study, they have become the setting where most of the intellectual friends that impact contemporary Jewry reach their best audiences.

There are also Jewish cultural institutions and activities ranging from local Jewish theater in Jewish community centers to major publication programs and serious cultural expressions of all kinds. Most of the latter serve a limited audience within the community and are rarely seen as religious in orientation. Needless to say, these normally reflect the current myths, interests, and leanings of the community or "challenge" them by carrying them even further than their contemporary community consensus.

Capping all of the above are the serious academic and rabbinical study programs of a handful of major institutions mostly under Jewish sponsorship. These institutions have programs that have produced world-class scholars in every field of Jewish study and have given American Jewry a firm place in Jewish intellectual history. Paralleling them in a certain way in the cultural sphere are the various "gurus" who, coming from a religious background, endeavor to teach a spiritual Judaism and Jewish culture to interested Jews of all stripes. These people, especially the more profound thinkers among them, have developed a distinctive American Jewish thought to accompany the increasingly distinctive American Judaism.

3. The Community Relations-Defense Sphere. The long Jewish experience with anti-Semitism and Jewish fears that serious anti-Semitism might develop in the United States led the Jews to develop a number of Jewish community relations organizations beginning at the turn of the century when American (indeed Western) racism was at its height. Among them are the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Congress, the Jewish Labor Committee, the Jewish War Veterans, local Jewish community councils, and the umbrella organization that to a greater or lesser degree involves them all, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.11

Anti-Defamation League collects statistics on anti-Semitic incidents. American Jewish Committee conducts annual surveys of American Jewry and Israel-diaspora relations that provide a running portrait of American Jewish attitudes in those fields.

These organizations cover the ideological spectrum of the Jewish communal consensus which means that all are ideal-oriented. Over the years they have moved from competition with one another to specialization in various community relations tasks based on their strengths and constituencies. These bodies are all secular in character although they may include religious organizations and individuals in their membership. Indeed, it is reasonable to assume that almost all of those active in those organizations are also synagogue members, although their synagogue membership has no direct connection with their community relations activity.

Most of the time these are the organizations called upon to represent the Jewish community in the American public square on issues of religious significance, often in relation to the representatives of Catholicism, Protestantism, and other religious communities who are directly connected with their respective churches or church movements. For many years most of these organizations were staffed by the most secular Jews active in the Jewish community whose basic liberal commitments led them into community relations work, especially as community relations and defense were redefined to mean Jewish organizational cooperation with other groups, religious and secular, of good will in the struggle against discrimination and racism in its various forms. This could have been an embarrassment to the Jewish community and indeed was often presented as such within the community by the community's religious representatives except for the fact that Judaism is so all-encompassing that the same ethical and moral positions expressed in the most socially conscious synagogues were expressed and even featured by these community relations organizations. One need only look at the joint action program issued by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs every other year to represent the consensus of views in these organizations as the community consensus on matters of community relations, defense against anti-Semitism, and social policy. More recently as the secular left has disappeared as a force, more and more of those involved in the professional leadership of these groups are drawn from the more religiously committed, even Orthodox, Jewish population. Still, even our latest surveys show that the leadership of these groups remains further away from Jewish religious concerns or observance than any of the religious movements.

4. The Communal-Welfare Sphere. In the days when there was no more than one congregation per city, all communal and welfare matters were handled within the congregational framework. Those days are long gone, but the traditional Jewish concern for providing support for those within their community who need it and for functioning collectively as a community remains strong. As local Jewish communities grew larger in the United States, they first developed separate charitable societies for various tasks and then at the time of the Civil War began to federate those functional associations into bodies that bore names like United Jewish Charities or United Hebrew Benevolent Association or some equivalent.

After 1880 and the beginning of the mass immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe, those relatively simple charitable unions needed to be supplemented by more massive efforts to assist the immigrants in their resettlement and integration into the United States and to provide for the other concerns of the Jewish community such as recreation, culture, and education. In response, Jewish communities throughout the country organized what are today the Jewish community federations. In the last one hundred years, what began as federations of charities have evolved into the closest thing that the Jewish community has to a framing institution or common address. As such they have federated all the major service agencies, schools, and community centers of the local community -- in short, organizations in all of the other spheres except the religious-congregational.

The individual synagogues have remained outside of formal linkage with the local federations for historic reasons. They regard themselves as religious institutions and the federations began by regarding themselves as civic or secular institutions designed to handle those functions outside of the purview of the synagogues. That distinction is an artificial one, from the very first the federation leadership were often the same people who played significant roles in their congregations wearing different hats. Over the past twenty years closer connections have developed between federations and synagogues in community after community, with the federations subsidizing educational activities provided by synagogues on an ever-broader basis. The two sets of institutions are developing especially close ties around the issue of "Jewish continuity."

The individual Federations collect various kinds of data and sponsor local Jewish demographic surveys that supplement the NJPS, often providing more detail and refined information because of the smaller population surveyed, especially in the realm of philanthropic behavior.

Countrywide, the local federations were confederated through the Council of Jewish Federations, an umbrella organization headquartered in New York City, for seventy years. In 1999, after several years of negotiations, led by the local Federations, CJF was merged with the United Jewish Appeal and the United Israel Appeal to form a new unified federal body named the United Jewish Communities, designed to increase local Federation control of all three components. Each of the major constituent agencies of the federations has its own national league or confederation. Table 1 lists them.

5. The Israel-Overseas Sphere. The federations began their work of relief and rescue of Jews outside of the United States in the days of World War I. At that time the various organizations dealing with rescue, relief, and rehabilitation in the United States organized themselves into the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The federations were involved in that effort at least indirectly from the first. After World War I the JDC continued its work with federation support. At the end of the 1930s, federations forced the integration of JDC with fund-raising for rebuilding Jewish life in what was then Palestine, conducted by what is now the United Israel Appeal (UIA). The two organizations came together and formed the United Jewish Appeal, the main fund-raising arm of the Jewish community for Israel and overseas activity.

Table 1
Spheres, Institutions and Organizations

 Institutions and Organizations
Sphere Local Countrywide Worldwide
Religious-congregational Synagogues
Rabbinical associations
Boards of rabbis
Rabbinical courts
Kashruth councils
Orthodox enclaves
Synagogue confederations and the men's, women's and youth affiliates
Seminaries and yeshivas
Rabbinical associations
Israeli rabbinate
Israeli Knesset
International synagogue confederations
Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
Educational-cultural Synagogues
Communal, secularist and day schools
Colleges of Jewish studies
Central agencies of Jewish Education
Jewish studies programs in universities
Local cultural institutions and groups
Jewish community centers
Jewish federations
Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education (CAJE)
National Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL)
Jewish Educational Services of North America (JESNA)
National Foundation for Jewish Culture-Joint Cultural Appeal
Torah Umesorah
Jewish Welfare Board
B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundations
Jewish colleges and universities
Scholarly associations
Educators' associations
Jewish Cultural institutions and organizations
Jewish foundations
Jewish Agency and subsidiaries
Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Community relations Jewish community relations councils
Local chapters or offices of American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Federations
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
Presidents' Conference
Council of Jewish Federations (CJF)
American Jewish Committee
Anti-Defamation League
American Jewish Congress
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish War Vetarans
Professional associations
Special-purpose groups (e.g. for Soviet Jewry)
World Jewish Congress
Israeli government
International Jewish committee for Interreligious Consultation (IJCIC)
Simon Weisenthal Center
Communal-welfare Jewish federations
Social service agencies
Jewish community centers
Local Jewish press
Hospital health care
United Jewish Communities
Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA)
B'nai B'rith
American Jewish Committee
United Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)
National Association of Jewish Family & Children Services
Presidents' Conference
Israeli government
Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)
International professional/functional assns.
Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel-overseas Jewish federations
Local Zionist chapters
Local Zionist offices
Local "friends" chapters
United Jewish Communities
United Jewish Appeal (UJA)
Zionist organizations
Israel Bonds Organization
United HIAS Service
"Friends of Israel" or overseas institutions
American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
B'nai Brith
American Jewish Committee
Israeli government
Jewish Agency
Jewish National Fund
Org. for Rehabilitation & Training (ORT)
Claims conference
World Jewish Congress
Conf. of World Jewish Organizations (COJO)
Otzar HaTorah
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
World synagogue bodies
* For the most complete available listing of countrywide institutions and organizations, local Jewish federations and the Jewish press, see the annual directories in the American Jewish Year Book.

The federations actually raise the money locally for transmission to the UJA where it is divided between JDC, UIA, and United HIAS, the countrywide body for absorbing Jewish immigrants to the United States. Today this structure has been reorganized or referred to above.

While UJA is seen as the major fund-raiser for Israel and overseas activities, the truth is that by the 1990s at least an equal amount of money was being raised by other organizations independent of it. They included Zionist organizations such as Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization, a major provider of support for health care and other services in Israel. The other Zionist organizations, a myriad of "Friends" associations whose primary purpose is to raise money for one institution or another in Israel ranging from the various Israeli universities to support for shelters for battered women, severely disabled children, or the Israeli equivalent of the USO. In recent years the JDC has been joined by important Jewish foundations to provide support and activities for rebuilding Jewish life in the former Communist bloc.

There is no comprehensive collection of data on the amount of funds collected from all of these bodies, in some cases because the individual organizations try not to release this information. We have some estimates of the total amount collected in recent years, but they are no more than estimates.

In addition to these five spheres a major new set of actors on the American Jewish scene are the Jewish foundations, both great and small, including such major foundations as those endowed by people like Bronfman, Mandell, Milken, and Wexner, but also including many medium-sized and smaller ones, many of which are managed by the federation endowment funds attached to all the major federations. These foundations, which are not formally part of the organized Jewish community but rather are the private initiatives of their founders and funders, play an increasingly important role in the community and its activities, especially since their founders are themselves leaders in the community and have strong views as to how their money should be used. According to American law, their funds and grants are matters of public record. The Jewish community has done little to collect them or analyze their use.

The Jewish community as a whole is a composite or a mosaic of all the foregoing elements in the American manner which is reinforced by the cultural predilections of the Jews. The community is a non-centralized matrix of institutions and organizations that are propelled and spurred by the voluntary activity and support of those interested in them. There is no single "address" for American Jewry and even a high level of consensus in the community (above 75 percent) means that there is frequently a significant dissenting minority that does not hesitate to press its views and make them public.


1. Daniel J. Elazar, Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1976) and Daniel Elazar and Harold Waller, Maintaining Consensus: The Canadian Jewish Polity in the Postwar World (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990).

2. Herbert Agar, The Saving Remnant: An Account of Jewish Survival (New York: Viking Press, 1960); Yehudah Bauer, My Brother's Keeper: A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 1929-1939 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1974); and Naomi W. Cohen, Not Free to Desist: The American Jewish Committee, 1906-1956 (Philadelphia: Jewish Publications Society, 1972).

3. Selected Bibliography Local Jewish Community Studies in Daniel J. Elazar, Community & Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1995), pp 452-460.

4. Arnold Dashefsky and Bernard Lazerwitz, Why don't They Give? Determinants of Jewish Charitable Giving (Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut Mimeographed, 1983); Mark Abramson, A Study of the Greather Hartford Jewish Population (West Hartford, CT: Greater Hartford Jewish Federation, 1982); and Richard Silberstein, Jonathan Rabinowitz, Paul Ritterband, and Barry Kosmin, Giving to Jewish Philanthropic Causes: A Preliminary Reconnaissance (New York: North American Jewish Data Bank Reprint Series, No. 2, 1987), p. 1.; Gary T. Tobin, "Planning, Allocations, and Financial Resource Development in the Federation System," Journal of Jewish Communal Service, 72, No. 1-2, Fall/Winter, 1995/6; Gary A. Tobin, "Jewish Wealth and Philanthropy: The Myth of the Well Running Dry," address delivered at the General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, 1986 (CJF, 1986); Gary A. Tobin and Mordechai Rimor, "Jewish Giving Patterns to Jewish and Non-Jewish Philanthropy," in Wuthnow and Hodgkinson, eds., Faith and Philanthropy in America; and Gary A. Tobin, Israel and American Jewish Philanthropy (Policy and Planning Paper 5, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, Brandeis University, Fall 1990).

5. Paul Ritterband and Steven M. Cohen, "Will the Well Run Dry? The Future of Jewish Giving in America," Response 12 (Summer 1979), pp. 9-17.

6. Daniel J. Elazar, "The Geo-Demographics of American Christian Attitudes Towards Jews and Israel," Jerusalem Letter, #91 (January 1, 1987); Steven M. Cohen, "American Jews and Israel: Pragmatic, Critical, But Still in Love," Jerusalem Letter, #61 (November 13, 1983); Steven M. Cohen, "American Jews and Israel: Pragmatic, Critical, But Still in Love," Jerusalem Letter, #65 (November 13, 1983); Gerald B. Bubis and Steven M. Cohen "What are the Professional Leaders of American Jewry Thinking About Israel?," Jerusalem Letter, #107 (March 15, 1989); Eytan Gilboa, "Has the Intifada Really Weakened American Jewish Support for Israel," Jerusalem Letter, #112 (April 1, 1990).

7. Daniel J. Elazar, "Jewish Communal Structures Around the World," Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Vol. 74, No. 2/3 (Winter/Spring, 1997/98).

8. Daniel J. Elazar, Community & Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1995), Chapter 7, The Mosaic of Jewish Communal Life, pp 190-234.

9. What there is is presented by the Movements themselves and comes from data supplied by the individuals themselves.

10. Arnold Dashefsky, "Does Jewish Schooling Count: A Review of the Empirical Literature on the Effects of Jewish Education on Dimensions of Jewish Identity," (Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut, Center for Judaic Studies & Contemporary Jewish Life, 1999).

11. Per materials from the individual organizations.

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