Posts Tagged ‘“21st Century”’


Beware as The Spin Begins: Early Headlines on the Pew American Jewish Population Study

Posted on: October 2nd, 2013 by Hayim Herring No Comments



On Monday, the Steinhardt Social Research Institute at Brandeis University released a report entitled American Jewish Population Estimates 2012 and yesterday, the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project released a report entitled A Portrait of Jewish Americans. The last national study of American Jews was released in 2001 by the UJC (United Jewish Communities), now the JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America), and had some significant methodological flaws. The Jewish establishment has been relying on partially unreliable data collected in 2000 for planning purposes, so rightfully these studies will garner significant media attention. In this post, I’ve culled headlines from as of 7pm Central Time yesterday from a variety of publications and organizations in the United States and Israel. My headline to the headlines: Beware as the Spin Begins!


American Jewish Press

JTA: Pew Survey of US Jews: Soaring Intermarriage, Assimilation Rates

Jewish Daily Forward: Jews Bound by Shared Beliefs Even as Markers of Faith Fade, Pew Study Shows

New York Jewish Week: Fast-Growing “Nones” Seen Reshaping Jewish Community

Los Angeles Jewish Journal: Pew Releases Landmark Survey on U.S. Jewry

New Jersey Jewish News: Surveys: More Jews, But Fewer Connections


American General Press

Wall Street Journal: Increasing Number of U.S. Jews Are Not Religious

New York Times: Poll Shows Major Shift in Identity of U.S. Jews

Huffington Post: What Defines an American Jew? Study Reveals Divides on Identity, Religion and Views on Israel

Associated Press: For Many American Jews, Religion Separate From Belief in God, Pew Survey Finds


Religion News Service

Being Jewish Means Being Funny, and That’s No Joke

Who’s a Jew? Few American Jews Say it’s A Matter of Belief


Israeli Press

Haaretz: Top 10 Takeaways From Pew Survey on U.S. Jews

eJewishphilanthropy: Pew Survey Examines Changing American Jewish Identity

Ynet News: U.S. Jews Losing Their Religion, Survey Finds

Jerusalem Post: Survey: 1 in 5 Jews Say They Have No Religion, Orthodox Share Grows

Times of Israel: Pew Survey: 6.8 Million US Jews, But Majority Intermarry


(Oh…and no coverage on the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform national congregational and rabbinical websites, and websites of Chabad and the Jewish Federations of North America. Pretty hard to understand why they weren’t ready with press releases and interviews, as they all knew about the impending release of the Pew study.)


It’s more than just “interesting” to read the initial responses (or note the lack thereof) to these studies, and track how the headlines evolve as leaders of all stripes digest the data. For data are merely points of information. What make them significant is how different individuals and organizations use them to tell a compelling story about the Jewish past, present and future, with the hope of swaying Jewish influentials to support their competing narratives with resources.


That’s why it’s important to read the original studies first without the spin, reach some of your own preliminary conclusions and then listen to what other people are saying. There are significant decisions riding on the stories that leaders craft from the data, and we need to hold them and ourselves accountable for accuracy in distinguishing between fact, opinion and prognostication. As you do so, please let me know what issues you think are the most essential over the next decade for leaders to be focusing on- which are the most amenable to influence, which should we invest in moderately and which we need to abandon. I’ll be weighing in as well after I do my “homework.” Thanks and I hope to hear from you!


New Year, New Blog, New Book Idea

Posted on: October 4th, 2010 by Hayim Herring No Comments

This summer, I unexpectedly learned the difference between writing the book I planned to write and writing the book I had to write. The book I originally planned to write – Tools for Shuls – was about helping synagogues build their core capacities (areas like marketing, volunteer engagement, fundraising, etc.). But the writing felt like a real chore, and not like the temporary kind of writer’s block that I’ve experienced before. With the help of family and some friends, I reluctantly recognized that there was a different book idea inside of me that insisted on getting out. If you’ve ever been possessed by an idea, then you know what I’m talking about!

So I’m now writing and enjoying it, and while I don’t have an exact name for the book yet (working title: Visions of a 21st Century Synagogue), it’s going to still rest on the assumption that synagogues will continue to do the work of God, Torah and Israel (all broadly defined), but be guided by two premises: it’s time for them to re-examine both 1) their fundamental purposes and 2) and their fundamental organizing structures. It will be different from other books on synagogues, which still generally take the general structures and purposes of synagogues as givens, and focus on either improving them or highlighting some of the functions while de-emphasizing others.

It wasn’t easy coming to grips with this change, given how invested I was in the first idea. But at the same time, I’ll be able to incorporate much of what I’ve learned from you and my own reading into the new book project. So many aspects of the world have changed since I first started writing, but then again – we’re entering a new year, so it’s time for me to embrace it.

One last note – if you don’t want to remain on my distribution list, please let me know. But I hope that you will and more important, that you’ll continue to add your voice to a new conversation.

Wishing you and your loved ones a healthy, purposeful and prosperous new year.

Rabbi Hayim Herring, Ph.D.