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The Future of American Jewish Denominations

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The Future of Judaism in America

Part of the book series: Studies of Jews in Society ((SOJS,volume 5))

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Abstract

Denominationalism is the skeletal framework of Judaism in America, and Lawrence Grossman provides a roadmap of the denominational streams—or, as they are more commonly known, “movements”—that established themselves in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The pluralist nature of American society has shaped the growth, development, and dynamism of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform movements along with the considerably smaller Reconstructionism. Grossman reviews the history of these movements, considers the normative differences among them, and examines the changes in each over the past quarter-century. He discusses the strengths of each movement and the internal and external challenges each is facing. As American Judaism looks toward its future, he argues, it is likely that that the denominational structure that controlled American Judaism in the twentieth century is on the way out.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Gilbert S, Rosenthal, Contemporary Judaism: Patterns of Survival (2nd ed.; New York: Human Sciences Press, 1986), p. 25. His use of the term “movements” was imprecise, as Orthodoxy is not, strictly speaking, a movement. In this essay “denomination”—despite its Christian derivation—will be used to denote any of the major organized expressions of the Jewish religion, while those that are indeed movements will also be referred to as such.

  2. 2.

    While the source of the earlier figure, the National Jewish Population Survey of 2000–01, is not directly comparable to the Pew Research Center report of 2013, the latter notes nevertheless: “The magnitude of these differences suggests that Jews of no religion have grown as a share of the Jewish population and the overall U.S. population.” A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews, October 1, 2013, p. 32, http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewish-american-beliefs-attitudes-culture-survey

  3. 3.

    Ibid, pp. 7–8, 48.

  4. 4.

    For a full discussion of these tendencies see Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, “American Jewish Secularism: Jewish Life Beyond the Synagogue,” American Jewish Year Book (hereafter AJYB) 2012, pp. 3–54.

  5. 5.

    Peter Berger, “Pluralistic Judaism,” The American Interest, May 1, 2013, http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/berger/2013/05/01/pluralistic-judaism

  6. 6.

    The classic study of Protestant denominationalism is H. Richard Niebuhr, The Social Sources of Denominationalism (Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Press, 2004). It was originally published in 1929.

  7. 7.

    Michael R. Cohen, The Birth of Conservative Judaism: Solomon Schechter’s Disciples and the Creation of an American Religious Movement (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), pp. 2–3.

  8. 8.

    A second American rabbinical school associated with Conservative Judaism would be established in Los Angeles in 1996, the Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies.

  9. 9.

    Will Herberg, Catholic-Protestant-Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960), pp. 172–210. The original edition appeared in 1955.

  10. 10.

    Charles S. Liebman, “Changing Social Characteristics of Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews,” Sociological Analysis 27, Winter 1966, pp. 210–22.

  11. 11.

    See Leonard Fein et al., Reform Is a Verb: Notes of Reform and Reforming Jews (Cincinnati: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1970).

  12. 12.

    For a brief description by one of the founders see Alan Mintz, “Along the Path to Religious Community,” in James A. Sleeper and Alan L. Mintz, eds., The New Jews (New York: Vintage, 1971), pp. 25–34.

  13. 13.

    Charles S. Liebman, “Post-War American Jewry: From Ethnic to Privatized Judaism,” in Elliot Abrams and David G. Dalin, eds., Secularism. Spirituality, and the Future of American Jewry (Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1999), p. 16.

  14. 14.

    Steven M. Cohen and Arnold M. Eisen, The Jew Within: Self, Family, and Community in America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), p. 35.

  15. 15.

    Steven M. Cohen and Jack Wertheimer, “Whatever Happened to the Jewish People?” Commentary, June 2006, p. 36; Steven M. Cohen and Lawrence A. Hoffman, How Spiritual Are America’s Jews? Narrowing the Spirituality Gap Between Jews and Other Americans, March 2009, at http://www.synagogue3000.org/files/53KReportHowSpiritual.pdf

  16. 16.

    Jay Michaelson, “Don’t Call the Rabbi, Make Your Own Rituals,” Forward, September 16, 2011, http://www.forward.com/articles/142435/dont-call-the-rabbi-make-your-own-rituals. Michaelson compares developing a new ritual to “finding unusual, local, organic and gluten-free desserts.”

  17. 17.

    Renee Ghert-Zand, “The Mirror in the Mikveh,” Forward, May 31, 2013, http://www.forward.com/articles/177195/the-mirror-in-the-mikveh/?p=all

  18. 18.

    Leah Koenig, “Swine of the Times,” Forward, June 26, 2009, http://forward.com/articles/107973/swine-of-the-times

  19. 19.

    Robert D. Putnam, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital,” Journal of Democracy 6:1, January 1995, pp. 65–78. Putnam later expanded this thesis into a book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Renewal of American Community (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000).

  20. 20.

    Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1984), p. xxiv.

  21. 21.

    Neela Banerjee, “Challenging Tradition, Young Jews Worship on Their Terms,” New York Times, November 28, 2007, http://nytimes.com/2007/11/28/us/28minyan.html

  22. 22.

    Ethan Tucker, “What Independent Minyanim Teach Us About the Next Generation of Jewish Communities,” Zeek, January 2008, http://zeek.net/print/801tucker

  23. 23.

    Rebecca Spence, “Leaders of Indie Prayer Groups Get Grants, Become Mainstream Darlings,” Forward, October 8, 2008, http://www.forward.com/articles/14356/leaders-of-indie-groups-get-grants-become-mainstream-darlings

  24. 24.

    The entire report is available at http://www.jewishemergent.org/survey

  25. 25.

    Carolyn Slutsky, “Minyanim Grow Up, Turn Inward,” New York Jewish Week, November 25, 2008.

  26. 26.

    “The Commencement Address of Dr. Ismar Schorsch, (then) Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary–New York at the 112th Commencement Exercises on May 18, 2006,” at http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/files/schorsch-commencement-address.pdf

  27. 27.

    Ben Harris, “Independent minyanim growing rapidly, and the Jewish world is noticing,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 11, 2008, http://www.jta.org/2008/11/11/life-religion/independent-minyanim-growing-rapidly-and-the-world-is-noticing

  28. 28.

    Elie Kaunfer, Empowered Judaism: What Independent Minyanim Can Teach Us About Building Vibrant Jewish Communities Today (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2010). Not everyone was convinced. See the stinging critique by Margot Lurie, “Minyan 2.0,” Jewish Review of Books, Winter 2011, pp. 25–28, which charges the movement with self-indulgence and immaturity, and only a tenuous appreciation of Jewish peoplehood and the State of Israel.

  29. 29.

    Carolyn Slutsky, “‘Just Jewish’ Schools,” New York Jewish Week, November 12, 2008. A nondenominational Jewish boarding school, American Hebrew Academy, in Greensboro, North Carolina, closed in 2022.

  30. 30.

    Naomi Zeveloff, “What Does Schechter Decline Mean?” Forward, January 27, 2012, http://forward.com/articles/149983/what-does-schechter-decline-mean; J.J. Goldberg, “Day Schools Stuck in Neutral,” ibid., January 6, 2012, http://forward.com/articles/148762/day-schools-stuck-in-neutral; Naomi Zeveloff, “Will Schechter Schools Leave Conservatives?” ibid.,  July 13, 2012, http://forward.com/articles/158920/will-schechter-schools-leave-conservatives

  31. 31.

    AJYB 2012, pp. 140–41.

  32. 32.

    Arthur Green, “Rabbis Beyond Denomination,” Contact: The Journal of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation 7, Summer 2005, p. 4.

  33. 33.

    Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Online-Ordained Rabbis Grab Pulpits,” Forward, December 7, 2012, http://forward.com/articles/166946/online-ordained-rabbis-grab-pulpits

  34. 34.

    Steven M. Cohen, “Assessing the Vitality of Conservative Judaism in North America: Evidence From a Survey of Synagogue Members,” in Jack Wertheimer, ed., Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and their Members (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2000), pp. 25, 44.

  35. 35.

    Stewart Ain, “Conservative Ruling Tips Scales on Cooked Fish,” New York Jewish Week, December 11, 2012, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york-news/conservative-ruling-tips-scales-cooked-fish

  36. 36.

    Portrait of Jewish Americans, p. 57.

  37. 37.

    Dana Evan Kaplan, American Reform Judaism: An Introduction (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2003), p. 79. The trend drew considerable attention in the waning years of the twentieth century. See AJYB 1988, p. 192; 1991, p. 192; 1992, p. 255; 1993, p. 191; 1996, p. 160; 1997, p. 198; and 1998, p. 136.

  38. 38.

    See the chart in Cohen, “Assessing the Vitality of Conservative Judaism,” p. 25; The Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011, Executive Summary, p. 27, http://www.ujafedny.org/jewish-community-study-of-new-york-2011; and Portrait of Jewish Americans, pp. 76–77.

  39. 39.

    Kaplan, American Reform Judaism, pp. 237–40.

  40. 40.

    Sharon Otterman, “At a Temple Proud of Its Traditions, a New Rabbi With ‘Alternative’ Ideas,” New York Times, December 5, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/nyregion/at-a-temple-proud-of-its-traditions-a-new-rabbi-with-alternative-ideas

  41. 41.

    Debra Nussbaum Cohen, “Reform Youth Flexing Their Ritual Muscle,” New York Jewish Week, August 10, 2007, http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/reform_youth_flexing_ritual_muscle; AJYB 2008, p. 141.

  42. 42.

    The various views within the movement are discussed in Conservative Judaism 58, Winter–Spring 2006, the entire issue dedicated to “The Aggadah of the Conservative Movement,” and in Neil Gilman, Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah and Israel in Modern Judaism (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights, 2008).

  43. 43.

    AJYB 2008, p. 141.

  44. 44.

    Jacob J. Staub, “Reconstructionist Judaism,” in Stephen H. Norwood and Eunice G. Pollock, eds., Encyclopedia of American Jewish History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2008), vol. I, p. 95. Eisen’s formulation is heavily indebted to Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionism’s founder.

  45. 45.

    Cohen and Wertheimer, “Whatever Happened to the Jewish People,” p. 36.

  46. 46.

    David Hollinger, Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (New York: Basic Books, 2001).

  47. 47.

    See Hua Hsu, “The End of White America?” Atlantic Monthly, January–February 2009, http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200901/end-of-whiteness

  48. 48.

    Kaplan, American Reform Judaism, pp. 191–92; Jonathan Sarna, American Judaism: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 341.

  49. 49.

    Sarna, American Judaism, pp. 341–43.

  50. 50.

    Kaplan, American Reform Judaism, pp. 214–27.

  51. 51.

    AJYB 1994, p. 198.

  52. 52.

    AJYB 1992, p. 258; 2007, p. 127; Naomi Zeveloff, “Conservatives Skip Kiddushin for Same-Sex Rite,” Forward, June 15, 2012, http://www.forward.com/articles/157422/conservatives-skip-kiddushin-for-same-sex-rite

  53. 53.

    Jack Wertheimer, “What Does Reform Judaism Stand For?” Commentary, June 2008, p. 33.

  54. 54.

    Ellen Lippmann, “Reform Rabbi Urges Hebrew Union College to Reconsider Decision on Intermarried,” Forward, May 24, 2013, http://www.forward/articles/176823/reform-rabbi-urges-hebrew-union-college-to-reconsider-decision-on-intermarried; Uriel Heilman. “The war against intermarriage has been lost. Now what?” JTA, August 6, 2013, http://www.jta.org/2013/08/06/news-opinion/united-states/the-war-against-intermarriage-has-been-lost-now-what

  55. 55.

    Edmund Case, “Want more Reform rabbis? Stop turning away Jews in interfaith relationships,” Jewish New of Northern California, Mar. 30, 2022, jweekly.com/2022/03/30/want-more-reform-rabbis-stop-turning-away-jews-in-interfaith-relationships

  56. 56.

    Kaplan, American Reform Judaism, pp. 160–179. For one well-publicized example of a co-officiated intermarriage that had many traditional Jewish elements though it took place on Shabbat, see Luchina Fisher, “Chelsea Clinton’s Interfaith Marriage: Kids, Holidays, Soul-Searching,” August 2, 2012, at http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/chelsea-clintons-interfaith-marriage-marc-mezvinsky

  57. 57.

    “Nearly all Reform rabbis perform intermarriages—but not with non-Jewish clergy, study finds,” JTA, Aug. 8. 2018, jta.org/2018/08/08/united-states/nearly-all-reform-rabbis-perform-intermarraiges-but-not-with-non-jewish-clergy-study-finds

  58. 58.

    Staub, “Reconstructionist Judaism,” p. 96.

  59. 59.

    Ben Sales, “Conservative group ousts rabbi for performing intermarriages,” JTA, Dec. 19, 2016, www.jta.org/2016/12/19/news-opinion/united-states/rabbi-expelled-from-conservative-body-for-performing-intermarriages; “Conservative rabbis can now attend intermarriages,” Jewish Standard, Oct. 23, 2018, jewishstandard.timesofisrae.com/conservative-rabbis-can-now-attend-intermarriages

  60. 60.

    AJYB 2006, p. 104; Julie Wiener, “Conservatives Walking Intermarriage Tightrope,” New York Jewish Week, October 12, 2012, http:www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york-news/conservatives-walking-intermarriage-tightrope

  61. 61.

    Stewart Ain, “Conservatives End Push to Convert Intermarrieds,” New York Jewish Week, July 8, 2009, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/conservatives_end_push_convert_intermarrieds; Lois Goldrich, “JTS Head Highlights Movement’s Challenges,” New Jersey Jewish Standard, February 27, 2009, http://jstandard.com/index.php/content/print/6952

  62. 62.

    Cohen, “Assessing the Vitality of Conservative Judaism in North America: Evidence from a Survey of Synagogue Members,” in Wertheimer, ed., Jews in the Center, p. 59.

  63. 63.

    Naomi Zeveloff, “Conservative Synagogues Crack Open Door to Intermarried Families,” Forward, September 9, 2011, http://www.forward.com/articles/142112/conservative-synagogues-crack-open-door-to-intermarried-families

  64. 64.

    Uriel Heilman, “Schechter schools considering embracing patrilineal descent,” JTA, November 22, 2013, http://www.jta.org/2013/11/22/life-religion/schechter-schools-considering-embracing-patrilineal-descent

  65. 65.

    Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Conservative Rabbis Set to Debate Opening the Door to Intermarrieds,” Forward, December 6, 2013, http://forward.com/articles/188511/conservative-rabbis-set-to-debate-opening-the-door. Simon’s coauthor was Reform Rabbi Kerry Olitzky, head of the Jewish Outreach Institute, who had two sons who were Conservative rabbis—another indication of how alike the two movements had become.

  66. 66.

    “Conservative synagogues pass resolution allowing non-Jews as members,” JTA, March 5, 2017, http://www.jta.org/2017/03/05/life-religion/’conservativesynagogues-pass-resolution-allowing-non-jews-as-members

  67. 67.

    See AJYB 2015, p. 137, and Jane Eisner, “Why This Renegade Rabbi Says He Can Marry Jews—And The Jew-ish,” Forward, June 9, 2017, forward.com/opinion/373982/conservative-jewish-intermarriage-renegade-rabbi

  68. 68.

    Gary Rosenblatt, “Conservative Rabbi Offers ‘Trial Balloon,’” New York Jewish Week, March 4, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/national-news/conservative-rabbi-offers-trial-balloon

  69. 69.

    Rabbi Elliott Cosgrove, “Mikveh Can Solve Conversion Problem,” New York Jewish Week, April 13, 2017, http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/mikveh-can-solve-conversion-problem

  70. 70.

    Clifford Librach, “Does Conservative Judaism Have a Future?” Commentary, September 1998, pp. 28–33, as well as the letters-to-the-editor and Librach’s reply in the January 1999 issue, pp. 3–13.

  71. 71.

    AJYB 2002, p. 258.

  72. 72.

    AJYB 2005, pp. 197–98.

  73. 73.

    Gal Beckerman and Rebecca Dube, “United Synagogue Approves Broad Restructuring,” Forward, September 25, 2009, http://forward.com/articles/114305/united-synagogue-approves-broad-restructuring. Soon thereafter he apologized, explaining: “What I said came out as flippant and hurtful to many of our colleagues…. I am sorry.” Gal Beckerman, “Conservative Synagogue Chief Issues Apology,” Forward, October 2, 2009, http://www.forward.com/articles/114345/conservative-synagogue-chief-issues-apology

  74. 74.

    Steward Ain, “JTS Facing $2 Million Budget Shortfall,” New York Jewish Week, June 25, 2009, http://thejewishweek.com/news/national/jts-facing-2-million-budget-shortfall

  75. 75.

    Stewart Ain, “New Vision for USCJ, Conservative Judaism, Gets Mixed Reviews,” New York Jewish Week, September 15, 2009; Beckerman and Dube, “United Synagogue Approves Broad Restructuring.”

  76. 76.

    “Union for Reform Judaism Plans Reorganization to Strengthen Congregations and Build the Reform Jewish Future,” press release, March 6, 2009, http://urj.org/pr/2009/restructure/index.cfm?&printable=1; Andrew Lapin, “Hebrew Union College to end Cincinnati rabbinical program after board backs controversial plan,” JTA, April 11, 2022.

  77. 77.

    Sam Cohen, “College Dropouts,” New York Jewish Week, July 6, 2012, http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/college-dropouts; http://www.uscj.org/Objects/Documents/Koach%note.pdf

  78. 78.

    “Rabbi Eric Yoffie Calls on Synagogue Movements to Cooperate in Economic Crisis,” URJ press release December 12, 2008, http://urj.org/pr/2008/economy

  79. 79.

    S3K Synagogue Studies Institute, S3KReport, March 2012, Number 11, www.synagogue3000.org. This survey was part of the Faith Communities Today (FACT) series, www.faithcommunitiestoday.org

  80. 80.

    Elaine Gale, “Two Congregations Forge Unusual Partnership,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, 2000, http://articles.latimes.com/2000/jun/05/local/me-37588

  81. 81.

    Stewart Ain, “Welcome to the Re-Conservative Shul,” New York Jewish Week, June 12, 2009, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new_york/welcome_re_conservative_shul

  82. 82.

    Stewart Ain, “Reform, Conservative Roommates in Forest Hills?” New York Jewish Week, August 5, 2009.

  83. 83.

    For the discussion of such an arrangement in Detroit in 2007 see “The Equation for Communal Growth,” http://choppingwood.blogspot.com/2007/09/equation-for-communal-growth.html

  84. 84.

    Ben Gittleson, “To stay afloat, shuls merging across denominational divide,” JTA, May 9, 2013, http://m.jta.org/news.article.2013/05/09/6/3126186/facing-possible-extinction-struggling-shuls-merging-across-denominational-divide

  85. 85.

    http://www.synagogue3000.org; http://www.starsynagogue.org

  86. 86.

    Eric J. Greenberg, “Reform, Conservative Movements Collaborate on Principal Training,” Forward, January 14, 2005, http://www.forward.com/articles/4135/reform-conservative-movements-collaborate-on-pricipal-training. One of the educators involved is quoted as saying, “We have talked about how to handle the different movement ideologies. We acknowledged early on that there will be times when we break down into smaller groups, by denominations.”

  87. 87.

    The two movements issued an identical press release, “Schusterman Rabbinical Fellowship Program a Milestone in Collaboration,” http://huc.edu/nes/08/5/milestone, and http://www.jtsa.edu/x10205.xml

  88. 88.

    “Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Announces New Visiting Faculty in Israel Studies,” press release, http://huc.edu/news/08/8/visitingfaculty

  89. 89.

    “Grant Funds Collaboration Between Two St. Louis Day Schools,” http://Jewishinstlouis.org/page/aspx?id=201628

  90. 90.

    Ain, “Welcome to the Re-Conservative Shul.”

  91. 91.

    Portrait of Jewish Americans, pp. 48, 39, 41. The 1970 figure is cited in Jack Wertheimer, A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America (New York: Basic Books, 1993), p. 52.

  92. 92.

    Pew Research Center, Jewish Americans in 2020, May 11, 2021, pewresearch.org/religion/2021/05/11/jewish-americans-in-2020

  93. 93.

    http://www.ifshj.org

  94. 94.

    https://www.aleph.org

  95. 95.

    Philanthropists and younger Jews tend to favor the tendency, while people heavily invested in the specific movements—especially Conservative Judaism, which is most vulnerable—express less enthusiasm. See Uriel Heilman, “Beyond Dogma: Is American Judaism headed toward a post-denominational future?” Jerusalem Post, February 11, 2005, http://urielheilman.com/0211beyonddogma.html; Jack Wertheimer, All Quiet on the Religious Front? Jewish Unity, Denominationalism, and Postdenominationalism in the United States (New York: American Jewish Committee, 2005; The Reconstructionist 7, Spring 2007, entire issue devoted to “Denominationalism”; “Symposium: The Future of the Different Movements in Judaism,” G’Vanim: The Journal of the Academy for Jewish Religion 5, 2009, pp. 55–100, available at http://ajrsem.org/index.php?id=460; Zachary I. Heller, ed., Synagogues in a Time of Change: Fragmentation and Diversity in Jewish Religious Movements (Herndon, Va.: Alban Institute, 2009); David Ellenson, “Denominationalism:History and Hopes,” in Sidney Schwarz, ed., Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights, 2013).

  96. 96.

    Michael H. Steinhardt, “My Challenge: Towards a Post-Denominational Common Judaism,” Contact: The Journal of Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation 7, Summer 2005, p. 15.

  97. 97.

    Wertheimer, All Quiet on the Religious Front, p. 26.

  98. 98.

    Portrait of Jewish Americans, p. 7; Don Seeman, “Pew’s Jews: Religion Is (Still) the Key,” Jewish Review of Books, Winter 2014, pp. 7–8. Seeman, p. 8, writes that the “Jews of no religion” are “alienated, impatient, or in many cases simply uninterested in Jewishness in any of its forms. Mostly, they are looking for the exit door.”

  99. 99.

    Ibid, pp. 52, 82.

  100. 100.

    Shaul Magid, American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society (Bloomington, IN.: Indiana University Press, 2013). See Allan Arkush’s review, “All-American, Post-Everything,” in Jewish Review of Books, Fall 2013, pp. 23–25.

  101. 101.

    Sidney Schwarz, ed., Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future (Woodstock, Vt.: Jewish Lights, 2013), Part 1.

  102. 102.

    Robbie Gringras, “Shabbat Service Here Highlights Israel-Diaspora Gap,” New York Jewish Week, May 10, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/shabbat-service-here-highlights-israel-diaspora-gap. Three long letters appeared in the May 17 issue defending the service’s individualistic focus.

  103. 103.

    Julie Gruenbaum Fax, “Rabbi Sharon Brous vs. Rabbi David Gordis: Betrayal or Compassion?” Los Angeles Jewish Journal, November 29, 2012, http://www.jewishjournal.com/cover_story/article/rabbi_sharon_brous_vs.-rabbi_david_gordis_betrayal_or_compassion; Sharon Otterman and Joseph Berger, “Cheering U.S. Palestine Vote, Synagogue Tests Its Members,” New York Times, December 4, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/nyregion/jewish-congregation-applauds-un-vote-on-palestine.html?pagewanted=all

  104. 104.

    Jacob Magid, “Preaching to the margins: Chicago synagogue adopts anti-Zionism as a ‘core value,’” Times of Israel, Apr. 6, 2022, timesofisrael.com/preaching-to-the-margins-chicago-synagogue-adopts-anti-zionism-as-a-core-value

  105. 105.

    Phylissa Cramer, “Dozens of US rabbinical students sign letter calling for American Jews to hold Israel-accountable for its human rights abuses,” JTA, May 14, 2021, jta.org/2021/05/14/united-states/dozens-of-us-rabbinical-students-sign-letter-calling-for-american-jews-to-hold-israel-accountable-for-its-human-rights-abuses; Arno Rosenfeld, “New group fears rabbis are drifting away from Zionism,” Forward, May 26, 2022, forward.com/news/503901/new-group-fears-rabbis-are-drifting-away-from-zionism

  106. 106.

    Gary Rosenblatt, “Jewish Giving Strong, But Concerns Loom, New Study Finds,” New York Jewish Week, September 6, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/national-news/jewish-giving-strong-concerns-loom-new-study-shows

  107. 107.

    Gary Rosenblatt, “Making A Move At Cummings,” New York Jewish Week, December 6, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/gary-rosenblatt/making-move-cummings

  108. 108.

    Infographic: Survey of Jewish Americans, Spotlight on the Orthodox, http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/03/infographic-survey-of-jewish-americans/#spotlight-on-the-orthodox; Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Orthodox Population Grows Faster Than First Figures in Pew Jewish America Study,” Forward, November 15, 2013, http://forward.com/articles/187429/orthodox-population-grows-faster-than-first-figures

  109. 109.

    The classic discussion of the two subgroups, Charles S. Liebman’s “Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life,” AJYB 1965, pp. 3–97, uses the sociology-of-religion term “sectarian” for the latter. “Haredi,” a Hebrew word designating one who fears God, came into common use later, first in Israel and then in the Diaspora. American spokesmen for this group today prefer being called “fervently” Orthodox; they object strongly to the label “ultra-Orthodox” that is often given them by outsiders, which they claim suggests extremist tendencies.

  110. 110.

    Liebman, “Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life,” p. 22. On the situation in the 1950s see Lawrence Grossman, “American Orthodoxy in the 1950s: The Lean Years,” in Raphael Medoff, ed., Rav Chesed: Essays in Honor of Rabbi Dr. Haskel Lookstein (Hoboken, N.J.: Ktav, 2009), vol. I, pp. 251–69.

  111. 111.

    Herbert Danzger, Returning to Tradition: The Contemporary Revival of Orthodox Judaism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). Ba’al teshuvah is Hebrew for one who has returned or repented, and as the great majority of these individuals had never been religiously observant to begin with, the term is, strictly speaking, a misnomer.

  112. 112.

    Lawrence Grossman, “Mainstream Orthodoxy and the American Public Square,” in Alan Mittleman, Jonathan D. Sarna and Robert Licht, Jewish Polity and American Civil Society (Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2002), pp. 283–310.

  113. 113.

    Los Angeles Times, “Times Poll on American Jews,” April 24, 1988, http://articles.latimes.com/1988-04-24/opinion/op-2504_1_jewish-history-american-jews-religious

  114. 114.

    Ari Goldman, “Obama and the Orthodox,” New York Jewish Week, November 27, 2012, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york-news/obama-and-orthodox; Infographic: Survey of Jewish Americans, Spotlight on the Orthodox.

  115. 115.

    Steven Bayme, “As Orthodox Move Right, ‘The Jewish Vote’ Divides,” New York Jewish Week, Dec. 5, 2016. Jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/as-orthodox-move-right-the-jewish-vote-divides; Mitchell Rocklin, “Are American Jews Shifting Their Political Affiliation?” Mosaic, Jan. 2017, http://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/2017/01/are-american-jews-shifting-their-political-affiliation

  116. 116.

    Jacob Magid, “Orthodox Jews back Trump by massive majority, poll finds,” Times of Israel, October 15, 2020, timesofisrael.com/orthodox-jews-back-trump-by-massive-majority-poll-finds; Jonathan Tobin, “The Jewish vote mattered more than we thought in 2020,” JNS, November 10, 2022, jns.org/opinion/the-jewish-vote-mattered-more-than-we-thought-in-2020

  117. 117.

    Samuel C. Heilman, Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).

  118. 118.

    Portrait of Jewish Americans, p. 48.

  119. 119.

    Samuel Freedman, Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2007).

  120. 120.

    Lawrence Grossman, “The Search for the Elusive Center: Norman Lamm and American Orthodoxy,” Hakirah, Fall 2022, pp. 99–120.

  121. 121.

    AJYB 1996, p. 163.

  122. 122.

    Much of what has been published about him is hagiographic. A controversial attempt at a scholarly treatment is Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, The Rebbe: The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012).

  123. 123.

    Sue Fishkoff, The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch (New York: Schocken, 2003), p. 11.

  124. 124.

    David Berger, The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference (London: Littman, 2001).

  125. 125.

    Fishkoff, The Rebbe’s Army, p. 12.

  126. 126.

    See Lawrence Grossman, “Decline and Fall: Thoughts on Religious Zionism in America,” in Chaim I. Waxman, ed., Religious Zionism Post Disengagement: Future Directions (Jersey City: Ktav, 2008), pp. 31–54.

  127. 127.

    “In one generation… the numbers of those [college students] majoring in the humanities dropped from a total of 30% to a total of less than 16%; during that same generation, business majors climbed from 14% to 22%.” William W. Chace, “The Decline of the English Department,” American Scholar 78 (Autumn 2009), pp. 32–33.

  128. 128.

    Jennifer Siegel, “Yeshiva University Catching Flak for Dropping Old Hebrew Slogan,” Forward, Sept. 30, 2005, forward.com/news/1975/yeshiva-university.catching-flak-for-dropping-old-hebrew-slogan. For more detail see Lawrence Grossman, “The Rise and Fall of Torah U’Madda,” Modern Judaism 41, Feb. 2021, pp. 71–91.

  129. 129.

    See Heilman, Sliding to the Right, pp. 140–79. In this regard American haredim differ markedly from their Israeli counterparts, whose leaders still distrust and resist secular studies, and advocate government subsidies for full-time male Torah study rather than working for a living.

  130. 130.

    Joseph Berger, “Out of Enclaves, a Pressure to Accommodate Traditions,” New York Times, August 22, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/nyregion/hasidic-jews-turn-up-pressure-on-city; Adam Dickter, “Hynes Faces Critics, Challengers,” New York Jewish Week, March 13, 2013, http://thejewishweek.com/news/new-york-news/hynes-faces-critics-challengers; Shmarya Rosenberg, “Ultra-Orthodox Power Grows in Brooklyn,” Moment, September/October, 2013, p. 18.

  131. 131.

    See, for example, Hella Winston, Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels (Boston: Beacon Press, 2005).

  132. 132.

    Shulem Deen, “Why I Am Not Modern Orthodox,” July 2, 2013, http://zeek.forward.com/articles/117822

  133. 133.

    Michael M. Grynbaum, “Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet,” New York Times, May 20, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html; Shahar Ilan, “If we can’t stop the internet let’s at least rally against it,” Haaretz, February 12, 2013, http://www.haaretz.com.misc/article-print-page/if-we-can-t-stop-the-internet-let-s-at-least-hold-arally-against-it.premium-1.503065; Daniel Estrin, “Burn iPhones Says Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jew,” Huffington Post, September 25, 2012, http://huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/rabbi-chaim-kanievsky-burn-phone_n_1912814.html

  134. 134.

    Liebman, “Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life,” p. 46.

  135. 135.

    James Kugel, How to Read the Bible: A Guide to Scripture. Then and Now (New York: Free Press, 2007). Kugel then taught both at Harvard and Bar-Ilan Universities; he has since retired from Harvard.

  136. 136.

    http://www.jameskugel.com

  137. 137.

    Yehuda Bernstein, “Dr. James Kugel: Kosher Enough for YU?” Commentator (student newspaper of Yeshiva College), Jan. 7, 2009; “YU Gives Platform to Famous Apikores,” http://www.vosizneias.com/25007/2008/12/31

  138. 138.

    Rabbinical Council of America, “RCA Statement on Torah Min HaShamayim,” July 31, 2013, http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105768

  139. 139.

    For a comprehensive review of the issue see Marc B. Shapiro, “Is Modern Orthodoxy Moving Towards An Acceptance Of Biblical Criticism?” Modern Judaism, May 2017, pp. 165–193.

  140. 140.

    Steven Greenberg, Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004); Chaim I. Waxman, “It’s All Relative: The Contemporary Orthodox Jewish Family in America,” Ideas: Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, Fall 2009, http://www.jewishideas.org/print/373; “Trembling on the Road,” http://www.filmsthatchangedtheworld.com.site

  141. 141.

    See especially Hayim Rapoport, Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2004).

  142. 142.

    Adam Liptak, “Jewish University Loses Ruling in Suit Over L.G.B.T. Group,” New York Times, September 15, 2022, p. A16.

  143. 143.

    http://www.jofa.org

  144. 144.

    Anthony Weiss, “Orthodox Women to Be Trained As Clergy, If Not Yet As Rabbis,” Forward, May 29, 2009, http://forward.com/articles/106320

  145. 145.

    Ben Harris, “For graduates of Avi Weiss’ academy, ordination comes with controversy,” JTA, June 18, 2013, http://jta.org/2013/06/18/life-religion/for-graduates-of-avi-weiss-academy-ordination-comes-with-controversy

  146. 146.

    See Adam S. Ferziger, “Feminism and Heresy: The Construction of a Jewish Metanarrative,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 77 (September 2009), pp. 1–53, and the sources cited in it.

  147. 147.

    “RCA Statement Regarding Recent Developments at Yeshivat Maharat,” May 7, 2013, http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105753

  148. 148.

    Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Exclusive: Orthodox Union Adopts New Policy Barring Women Clergy,” Forward, Feb. 2, 2017, http://forward.com/news/362043/orthodox-union-adopts-polcy-barring-women-clergy The text of the rabbinic report can be found at https://www.ou.org/assets/Responses-of-Rabbinic-Panel.pdf, and that of the OU statement at https://www.ou.org/assets/OU-Statement.pdf

  149. 149.

    Ben Sales, “Orthodox Union asks women clergy to change their titles,” JTA May 19, 2017, www.jta.org/2017/05/19/news-opinion/united-states/orthodox-union-asks-women-clergy-to-change-titles

  150. 150.

    “JOFA Advocacy Statement in Response to the OU’s Statement Regarding Women Clergy,” February 2, 2017, at https://www.jofa.org/Advocacy/advocacy_statements;

  151. 151.

    David Ellenson and Daniel Gordis, Pledges of Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Orthodox Responsa (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012), pp. 121–164.

  152. 152.

    AJYB 2007, pp. 126–127; 2008, p. 143. Non-Orthodox observers have noted the irony that the very Modern Orthodox rabbis who denied the validity of their conversions and applauded the Israeli rabbinate’s similar denial were now seeing their own conversions denied.

  153. 153.

    Michele Chabin, “Fresh Skirmish In ‘Who Is A Jew’ Wars,” New York Jewish Week, October 18, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/israel-news/fresh-skirmish-who-jew-wars

  154. 154.

    Jillian Scheinfeld, “Agunah Summit pushes for answers,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 27, 2013, http://www.jta.org/2013/06/27/news-opinion/agunah-summit-pushes-for-answers; Susan Aranoff, “Reviving the Rackman Beit Din,” Times of Israel, July 3, 2013, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/reviving-the-rackman-beit-din; Sharon Shenhav, “New hope for ‘agunot’? Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2013, http://www.jpost.com/LandedPages/PrintArticle.aspx?id=319050

  155. 155.

    Gary Rosenblatt, “New Agunah Court Announced,” New York Jewish Week, December 13, 2013, http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/gar-rosenblatt/new-agunah-court-announced

  156. 156.

    See internationalbeitdin.org/decisions

  157. 157.

    For the ideological underpinnings of Chovevei Torah see Avraham Weiss, “Open Orthodoxy! A Modern Orthodox Rabbi’s Creed,” Judaism 46, Fall 1997, pp. 409–21, and the school’s website, http://www.yctorah.org. The IRF mission is stated on its website, http://www.internationalrabbinicfellowship.org

  158. 158.

    Allison Hoffman, “The New ‘Morethodox’ Rabbi,” Tablet, April 29, 2013, http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/130760/

  159. 159.

    Paul Berger, “Asher Lopatin Gets Less-Than-Warm Welcome from Orthodox World,” Forward, November 1, 2013, http://forward.com/articles/186116/asher-lopatin-gets-less-than-warm-welcome-from-orthodox-world

  160. 160.

    Information about Edah’s vision and activities is available on its website, www.edah.org, which is still up.

  161. 161.

    See its website, www.poratlonline,org

  162. 162.

    Survey of Jewish Americans, p. 23, explains the meaning of “core” and lays out other possible criteria for counting people as Jews that would lead to different results. The Pew survey has also produced an online interactive means to calculate Jewish population geared to different definitions of Jewishness. See “Calculate the Size of the U.S. Jewish Population” at http://www.pewresearch.org//2013/10/01/jewish-population-calculator

  163. 163.

    Rosenthal, Contemporary Judaism, p. 25.

  164. 164.

    The title of Chapter 5 of his book The Restructuring of American Religion: Society and Faith Since World War II (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 71–99.

  165. 165.

    James Davison Hunter, Culture Wars: The Struggle to Control the Family, Art, Education, Law, and Politics in America (New York: Basic Books, 1991).

  166. 166.

    Jack Wertheimer, “Intermarriage: Can Anything Be Done?” Mosaic, September 2013, http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2013/09/intermarriage/

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Grossman, L. (2023). The Future of American Jewish Denominations. In: Chanes, J.A., Silk, M. (eds) The Future of Judaism in America. Studies of Jews in Society, vol 5. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24990-7_2

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