American Jews and American Judaism share kinship, symbols, and history with their Israeli counterparts. That said, so much differentiates Israeli Jews and Judaism from US Jews and Judaism. Israeli Jews live among non-Jews who many think want to kill them. American Jews live with non-Jews — often in their own families — who genuinely love them. Israeli Jews see Orthodoxy as authentic, even when they reject it. American Jews see pluralism as an inherent value, even when they strongly identify with one stream or another. Intermarriage, Hebrew, democracy, the army, Arabs, non-Jews, land, affiliation, synagogues, holidays, and so much more take on different meanings in both societies. And … the gaps are only growing!
Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist of American Jewry, is Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at HUC-JIR, and Director of the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner. His current research focuses on the changing patterns of Jewish identity and community. In 2011, he received an honorary doctorate from the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. In 2010, he received the Marshall Sklare Award of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, of which he is now President. He was cited as one of the Forward Fifty (for the second time). The book, Sacred Strategies, of which he is a co-author, won a National Jewish Book Award.
This program was made possible by the Association for Jewish Studies Distinguished Leadership Program.