The Quality of American Jewish Life

  • Steven M. Cohen
  • Charles S. Liebman
Part of the American Jewish Year Book book series (AJYB, volume 118)


The issue of whether the current state of American Jewry offers grounds for predicting an optimistic or pessimistic future has been argued for many decades. In this volume of the American Jewish Year Book, the debate is presented as formulated by two well-known scholars more than three decades ago: Steven M. Cohen and Charles Liebman.

Steven Bayme and David Singer, authors of the Foreword of the original publication by the American Jewish Committee, wrote as follows:

For several decades, serious scholars have predicted that increased intermarriage, declining birthrates and widespread assimilation would bring about the weakening, perhaps even the disappearance, of American Jewry. More recently, however, these dire predictions have been challenged by new studies pointing to a vibrant Jewish community, working confidently for a secure Jewish future.

This assessment is as true today as it was in 1987 when it was first published.

The first section of this chapter presents Steven M. Cohen’s original “Reason for Optimism.” The second part of this chapter presents the late Charles S. Liebman’s “A Grim Outlook.” In a surprising reversal, in the third section of this chapter, Steven M. Cohen offers a contemporary update that more resembles the original essay by Liebman than his own 1987 statement.


Contemporary Jewry US Jewry Assimilation Intermarriage Denominations Judaism 


  1. Cohen, S.M. 2006. A tale of two Jewries: The “inconvenient truth” for American Jews. New York: Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation. Scholar
  2. ———. 2014. What is to be done? Policy responses to the shrinking Jewish middle. Stanford: Berman Jewish Policy Archive at Stanford University. Scholar
  3. Cohen, S.M., and A.M. Eisen. 2000. The Jew within: Self, family and community in America. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Fishman, S.B., and S.M. Cohen. 2018. Family, engagement, and Jewish continuity among American Jews. Jerusalem: Jewish People Policy Institute. Scholar
  5. Pew Research Center. 2013. A portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
  6. Redman, T.C. 2008. Data driven profiting from your most important business asset. Boston: Harvard Business Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven M. Cohen
    • 1
  • Charles S. Liebman
    • 2
  1. 1.Independent ScholarNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Bar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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