AJC, JCPA Co-Publish Guide to American Jewry’s Future

October 15, 2010 -- New YorkAmerican Jewry’s Comfort Level: Present and Future, a series of essays by some of the U.S. Jewish community’s leading thinkers, is now available and already receiving high acclaim.

“This timely volume takes the measure of the American Jewish community at a critical moment in its history,” says Brandeis University Professor Jonathan D. Sarna. “It features frank and up-to-date assessments of communal strengths and weaknesses as seen by some of its foremost leaders and scholars.”

Co-published by AJC and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the 16 essays and interviews examine in detail the most compelling issues confronting American Jews and strategies for ensuring the vitality of American Jewry. 

“As we approach the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, American Jewry faces daunting new challenges that demand fresh responses,” writes AJC Executive Director David Harris in the book’s foreword. “The ever accelerating pace of change renders policies of the past as obsolete as yesterday’s newspaper…I fully expect that this volume will help lay the groundwork for the development of innovative approaches that will serve our community well as we go forward.”

A theme throughout the book is recognition that the Jewish community must understand faster the changes occurring in American society and within the Jewish community itself.

The book “is a primer for those seeking to understand the challenges facing this generation and what can be done about them,” says Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “This book will not only add to the body of knowledge, but will help stimulate new thinking that will be responsive to twenty-first-century demands.”

Among other issues, the volume examines identity, intra-Jewish relations, role of women, intermarriage, the intellectual assault on Israel advocacy and the fragmentation of American Jewry. It also prominently features essays by the book’s co-editors, Manfred Gerstenfeld, chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Steven Bayme, AJC’s Director of Contemporary Jewish Life.

The volume includes extensive interviews with Rabbi David Ellenson, president of Hebrew Union College, and Arnold Eisen, chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, on the future of the Reform and Conservative movements. The Orthodox movement is assessed in a separate chapter.

Review copies of American Jewry’s Comfort Level Present and Future are available upon request. The volume can be purchased at Amazon.com.

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