Since the Second World War, the State of Israel and the Holocaust have served as touchstones of Jewish identity in America. More recently, catchphrases such as “continuity” and “spirituality” have begun to play more prominent roles in the national Jewish lexicon. Today, more and more of our leaders and organizations are talking about the critical importance of Jewish education to both identity formation and the revitalization of Jewish life in the United States.
Forming Partnerships in a Time of Division
It’s no great secret that we live in a period of discord and division in the American Jewish community. There is so much infighting among competing organizations (e.g. Anti-Defamation League vs. American Jewish Committee), different movements (e.g. Orthodox vs. Reform), and disparate communities (e.g. Diaspora vs. Israel) that it can sometimes seem as if American Jews are more interested in guarding their turf or in conserving their ideological purity than in energizing and sustaining an ancient people and a rich religious tradition.
The University and the Jews: An Era of Renaissance or an Age of Darkness?
There is a great debate taking place within the American Jewish community as to whether we live in a period of decline or of opportunity in terms of Jewish life and identity. Needless to say, and perhaps in sharper and more intensified ways, the same socio-religious dilemmas and struggles at the heart of this internal debate affect the lives of the large number of young Jews on college campuses. This issue of Contact is devoted to exploring the topic.
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