Who speaks for the Jewish community: Power, authority and alternative voices.

27 Sep, 2016

Over the past 150 years, there have been many attempts to establish an authoritative voice for U.S. Jewry, all of which have failed. The attempts continue.  In addition, a plethora of survey research indicates that there often is a chasm separating what the average Jew stands for and what leaders of Jewish institutions claim is the Jewish view on an issue. In an age when authority is challenged by Internet information and easily mobilizable grassroots movements, the attempt to present an authoritative Jewish voice (which can be bartered in the American political system for influence and resources as well as  the challenge to such attempts) are bound to increase. Of course, there are also human desires for power and control that play out in organizational and inter-organizational conflict.

  1. Who speaks for the Jews?
  2. Should there be alternatives to a single-voice community and is a united voice even valuable for a 21st century Jewish community?
  3. What role should Israeli leaders and policies play in how American Jews think about and act on power?