Forum on Contemporary American Jewry: Grounds for Optimism or Pessimism?

  • Arnold DashefskyEmail author
  • Ira M. Sheskin
  • Steven Bayme
  • Mijal Bitton
  • Carmel U. Chiswick
  • Steven M. Cohen
  • Sylvia Barack Fishman
  • Lawrence Grossman
  • Harriet Hartman
  • Samuel Heilman
  • Bethamie Horowitz
  • Debra R. Kaufman
  • Shaul Kelner
  • Barry A. Kosmin
  • Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz
  • Deborah Dash Moore
  • Pamela S. Nadell
  • Bruce A. Phillips
  • Riv-Ellen Prell
  • Jonathan D. Sarna
  • Leonard Saxe
  • Jennifer A. Thompson
Part of the American Jewish Year Book book series (AJYB, volume 118)


In the current volume of the Year Book, the editors follow up on the optimistic vs. pessimistic assessment of American Jewish life, which was discussed in the 2017 Year Book. A summary of the original arguments formulated by Cohen and Liebman in regard to the characteristics of American Jews as viewed originally in 1987 is examined. The 19 participants in the current Forum were asked to review the original 1987 essays by Cohen and Liebman as well as the contemporary assessment by Cohen (all provided in Chap.  1 of this volume) and to provide a commentary in which they would cite relevant data to support their position. All authors were asked to provide a thermometer reading on how warmly or coolly they felt toward Cohen’s contemporary assessment of American Jewish life. Scores ranged from a hot 100 to a cold 5. The median score was 60, and the mean was 56.


Contemporary Jewry US Jewry Assimilation Intermarriage Denominations Judaism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnold Dashefsky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ira M. Sheskin
    • 2
  • Steven Bayme
    • 3
  • Mijal Bitton
    • 4
  • Carmel U. Chiswick
    • 5
  • Steven M. Cohen
    • 6
  • Sylvia Barack Fishman
    • 7
  • Lawrence Grossman
    • 8
  • Harriet Hartman
    • 9
  • Samuel Heilman
    • 10
  • Bethamie Horowitz
    • 4
  • Debra R. Kaufman
    • 11
  • Shaul Kelner
    • 12
  • Barry A. Kosmin
    • 13
  • Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz
    • 14
  • Deborah Dash Moore
    • 15
  • Pamela S. Nadell
    • 16
  • Bruce A. Phillips
    • 17
    • 18
  • Riv-Ellen Prell
    • 19
  • Jonathan D. Sarna
    • 20
    • 21
  • Leonard Saxe
    • 20
  • Jennifer A. Thompson
    • 22
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish LifeUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Jewish Demography Project, Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic StudiesUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  3. 3.Contemporary Jewish Life DepartmentAJCNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  6. 6.Independent ScholarNew YorkUSA
  7. 7.Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  8. 8.AJCNew YorkUSA
  9. 9.Rowan UniversityGlassboroUSA
  10. 10.Queens College of the City University of New YorkQueensUSA
  11. 11.Northeastern UniversityBostonUSA
  12. 12.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  13. 13.Trinity CollegeHartfordUSA
  14. 14.Berman Jewish DataBankJewish Federations of North AmericaNew YorkUSA
  15. 15.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  16. 16.American UniversityWashingtonUSA
  17. 17.HUC Louchheim School of Judaic StudiesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  18. 18.Magnin School of Graduate StudiesHebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of ReligionLos AngelesUSA
  19. 19.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  20. 20.Brandeis UniversityWalthamUSA
  21. 21.National Museum of American Jewish HistoryPhiladelphiaUSA
  22. 22.Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary ProgramCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA

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