New Report: The Status of Jewish Communal Relations and What Can be Done

New York Rally for Soviet Jews, 1967. Copyright © 2009 Foundation for Documentary Projects. (Screen capture report cover).

The Reut Group’s Firewall Israel team has released “The New Frontiers of Community Relations: A Conceptual Framework.”

The report argues that strengthening the community relations field is the key to addressing challenges within the Jewish community as well as the most effective platform for combating contemporary anti-Israel movements.

This Reut report aims to elevate the community relations field at large, and was written following a partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA).

From the Executive Summary:

U.S. Jewry is generally considered a success story about a community rising from oppression to affluence and influence in many aspects of American life. The Jewish
community relations field, operating through decentralized organizations and initiatives and orchestrated by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), has played and maintains a key role in uniting communities and creating coalitions to advance Jewish communal interests and values.

However, U.S. Jewish leadership more broadly is struggling with generational, denominational, and ideological divides that characterize the community today. In the turbulent background of a polarized society, decline in central institutions, and climate of political extremes, conventional modes of operation are being challenged and are eroding unique attributes of the Jewish community relations field which previously enabled its success. These dynamics rupture community relations’capacity for broad engagement and undermine abilities to achieve internal consensus or operational coherence.

In particular, the growing rift between Israel and world Jewry serves as a strategic stumbling block. Recent Israeli government actions have widened this chasm, exposing a long-percolating crisis that has also significantly contributed to the erosion of Jewish communal cohesion and the increasing polarization of the Jewish community in the U.S.

The rift undermines the political strength and efficacy of the Jewish community in the U.S. and increasingly jeopardizes Israel’s bi-partisan status. This, in turn, may gradually undermine the positioning and security of U.S. Jewish communities.