Image Credit: the PEW Research Center

           Image Credit: the PEW Research Center

From eJewishPhilanthropy: "Marking the 2nd anniversary of the release of the 2013 Pew Research Center’s Portrait of Jewish Americans, a highly diverse group of thought leaders from all around the United States has framed a “Statement on Jewish Vitality,” advocating strategic responses to respond to the challenges to the Jewish future." The call provoked a great deal of discussion in the Jewish community, including a variety of responses to it in the days and weeks after the call's publication. 

The original Statement on Jewish Vitality, signed by 74 individuals

Thoughts from the INJF:

We are pleased to see a call for support of the many existing Jewish projects that are working. But we don't think it's likely that doubling down on even the most successful projects will bring about the paradigm shift that we need -- or even move the needle as far as the signatories think is necessary.

In 1990, a Jewish population survey was published -- but it measured the success only of initiatives that were already in place. While some new initiatives were created based on data that the survey uncovered, many other initiatives -- such as Moishe House, PJ Library, and independent minyans, all mentioned in the Statement -- were created long after that survey by people who tried out their new ideas and found success. Many Jews, for better or for worse, are not going to connect to institutional expressions of Judaism as they exist today. If they (we) are to have meaningful Jewish lives, it will be because new expressions and institutions are invented."

Supportive Responses

1. By Jon Levisohn, a signatory of the statement and Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University 

2. By David Bryfman, a signatory of the statement and Chief Innovation Officer of the Jewish Education Project

Critical Responses

1. By Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation

2. By Rabbi Aaron Potek, Community Rabbi of Gather the Jews in Washington, DC

3. By Ari Y. Kelman, Stanford University Professor of Jewish Studies and Education 

4. By the founder of Interfaith Family, Edmund Case

5. By Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

6. Facebook status posted by Sheila Katz, Vice President for Social Entrepreneurship at Hillel International:

"In response to this [statement on Jewish vitality]: I dislike being referred to as a challenge. How horrific it must be for Jewish continuity that I'm an unmarried Jewish woman without kids(!). The agenda outlined is smart, but we need people to feel welcome in order to participate. Let's start by referring to single people and those in intermarried relationships and marriages as people of value in our community. We are not a challenging context, rather, we are an incredibly beautiful and vibrant part of the Jewish community at large. If only people started treating us that way." 

7. By David Manchester, Ph.D student at Brandeis's Heller School

8. By David Elcott and Stuart Himmelfarb  

9. By the Lippman Kanfer Foundation 

10. By Rabbi Rebecca Wolitz Sirbu, Director of Rabbis Without Borders

11. By Nathan J. Vaughan, Principal at Navon Consulting

12. By Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss, Spiritual Leader of Congregation Shma Koleinu in Bellaire, Texas