Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry

Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry

Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry

Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry

Synopsis

An update and revision of the original 1976 edition. This study presents a two-fold discussion: a basic survey of the structure and functions of the American Jewish community, and a suggestion as to how that community should be understood as a body politic, a collective unit that is not a state but is no less real from a political perspective.

Excerpt

Since the appearance of the original edition of Community and Polity in 1976, the American Jewish community has crossed the watershed from the post-World War II generation to a new generation whose dimensions became apparent in the 1980s.

Between 1977 and 1979, the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds underwent a reorganization, symbolically manifested in the shortening of its name to the Council of Jewish Federations (CJF). This was a sign of the recognition by its leadership of the new role of the federation movement within American Jewish life, a role that is amply described and analyzed herein. Although this reorganization was designed to strengthen the federation movement countrywide, it came -- somewhat ironically -- at a time when one of the major sources of the federations' power, their fund raising for Israel, had to compete with the task of mobilizing political support for Israel in Congress and the White House, or, at the very least, securing massive United States aid for the Jewish state that went far beyond the capabilities of voluntary fund-raising. It is a task for which the federation movement is not particularly suited and which has focused some attention on other institutions in Jewish life that, however, can only remain secondary to the federations in the overall scheme of the Jewish polity.

This, in itself, reflects a change in Jewish influence in the political sphere. Israel took its first steps toward peace in signing the treaty with Egypt. American public opinion with regard to the Israel- Arab conflict shifted to a more "even-handed" stance. the events of the 1980s further weakened . . .

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