Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner Newsletter
September 2010
Dear Friends,

This month, BJPA @ NYU Wagner is highlighting materials on Jewish-Muslim relations, a topic which could scarcely be timelier. Internationally, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Abbas are meeting for direct peace talks, while speculation abounds regarding the possibility of an Israeli military strike at Iran in order to prevent the Islamic Republic from becoming a nuclear power. Domestically, debates and demonstrations relating to the Cordoba House "Ground Zero Mosque" affair (and indeed, controversies surrounding other mosques and Islamic centers outside of New York as well) continue to affect relations between American Muslims and non-Muslims, including relations with American Jews. Most notably, the Anti-Defamation League's opposition to the project's location drew a wide range of responses from other voices in the Jewish community, including much criticism of the ADL from Jews who felt the ADL's historic mission obligated it to defend the Cordoba House plan. Meanwhile, Jews the world over prepare for Rosh Hashanah, during which our communities will read publicly the story, from Genesis 21, of Sarah and Abraham's expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael - a narrative which, in all this context, cannot help but resonate in our ears as a harbinger of the troubles that persist between the Abrahamic nations today.

The BJPA @ NYU Wagner contains many resources related to this topic, spanning a wide geographic range. Mikael Tossavainen discusses Jewish-Muslim relations in Sweden, as well as the problem of antisemitism among Swedish Arabs and Muslims. Greg Barton and Colin Rubenstein discuss relations between Israel and the Muslim-majority nation of Indonesia, while Rebecca Alpert shares her experience teaching an Introduction to Judaism class at Indonesia's Gadjah Madah University.  Allana E. Cooper examines memoirs of Jews from Muslim lands.  Ben Cohen evaluates Muslim-Jewish relations in Britain, and discusses the persistence of antisemitism on the British political Left.

The American Jewish Committee highlights its dialogue and solidarity activities with the Islamic community between 1985 and 2001, both domestically and internationally, including cooperative interfaith initiatives and condemnation of scapegoating and hate crimes against Muslims. Raquel Ukeles highlights the imbalance between Jewish attention to militant Islam and to non-militant Muslims, and recommends significant energy and resources be expended to develop a web of alliances between the Jewish and Muslim communities. She also provides a thorough study of the impacts of 9/11 on the American Muslim community. Reuven Firestone argues that it is both valuable and necessary for Jews to learn more about Islamic theology and customs. An article by Lewis Z. Schlosser et al finds commonalities between the Jewish and Muslim communities, drawing insights from the field of multicultural counseling.

Of course, BJPA @ NYU Wagner holdings also include copious materials relevant to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mordechai Kedar, for example, examines radical Islamic groups in Israel, and implications for Arab-Israeli coexistence. Brian M. Smollett recounts his experience living with Arab-Israeli roommates during the beginning of the 2006 war in Lebanon. Sergio DellaPergola examines the demography of Jerusalem, present and future. Bradley Hirschfield discusses the idea of sharing the Temple Mount, basing his response on the words of Isaiah 56:7 ("My house will be a house of prayer for all peoples.") Inspired by the same verse, Steve Greenberg also argues in favor of a shared Temple Mount, and further argues that any religion claiming to be the exclusive path to the divine has become a threat to the safety of the world.  Len and Libby Traubman see face-to-face, personal interaction as the major priority for Palestinian Jews in both the US and the Middle East.

A number of articles available on BJPA @ NYU Wagner from years ago are unexpectedly relevant to the current Cordoba House controversy. As was noted on the BJPA Blog,  Rabbi Daniel Brenner asked in 2001, "Why not build a mosque at Ground Zero?"  In 2007, the Reconstructionist reprinted a cutting from Muslim interfaith leader Eboo Patel's book, Acts of Faith as "Saving Each Other, Saving Ourselves,"  and the passage opens with Patel describing a speech being delivered at New York's Riverside Church by none other than Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

In the same issue of the Reconstructionist, Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer describes a program instituted at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College to provide rabbinical students with a fuller knowledge of Islam, while Susan Friedman  and Nathan Martin each contribute articles discussing service and volunteerism as sources of potential bridge-building between Muslims and Jews.

As the Jewish world continues to contend with alternative views of and policies toward the diverse Muslim world, BJPA @ NYU Wagner will be there to help you integrate new experiences into the broader context of thinking and ideas. Meanwhile, shanah tovah um'tukah - we wish you and your loved ones a wonderful and a sweet new year.

With best wishes,

Prof. Steven M. Cohen
Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner

Interrogating Jewish Peoplehood: Where Do We Go From Here?

By Clare Hedwat

In spring 2010, BJPA hosted a 4-part series on "Interrogating Jewish Peoplehood," sponsored by the Commission on the Jewish People, UJA-Federation of New York. Seminar leaders included Sylvia Barack Fishman, Sarah Benor, Jay Michaelson, and Jack Ukeles. In this report, Clare Hedwat, the Commission's planning manager, reflects on the content, conclusions, and questions provoked by the series. Clare deftly analyzes many of the challenges to Jewish Peoplehood experienced by contemporary American Jews, and by younger adults of her generation. We invite you to read her report and share your thoughts with us on our blog.


Highly Engaged Young American Jews: Contrasts in Generational Ethos, Interview with Steven M. Cohen (September 2010)

Still Connected: American Jewish Attitudes about Israel, Theodore Sasson, Benjamin Phillips, Charles Kadushin, and Leonard Saxe (August 2010)

"Learning Torah": Might the Rabbinic tradition serve as an effective platform for engaging non-observant young adults with Jewish Life?  Ezra Kopelowitz and Scott Aaron (July 2010)

Committed, Concerned, and Conciliatory: The attitudes of Jews in Britain towards Israel, David Graham and Jonathan Boyd (July 2010)

What the Congress gave American Jews, Jerome Chanes (July 2010)

Growing Jewish Education in Challenging Times: A Roundtable of Critical Challenges and Opportunities, JESNA and EJewishPhilanthropy (July 2010)

Click HERE for new publications.

Click HERE for latest additions.


Baby Boomers, Public Service, and Minority Communities: A Case Study of the Jewish Community in the United States

Tuesday September 21, 4:00 PM, NYU Wagner (Puck Building), 2nd floor.

Click here to RSVP.

Join us for a discussion of a national survey demonstrating the huge demands that Baby Boomers - intent on working and volunteering in their so-called golden years - are likely to exert on institutions, agencies, and federations of the Jewish community across North America in the years to come.

The one-and-a-half-hour dialogue will focus on the sweeping implications of the findings included in "Baby Boomers, Public Service, and Minority Communities: a Case Study of the Jewish Community in the United States."

Speakers will include: David M. Elcott, Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at NYU Wagner and the author of the study; Roberta Leiner, managing director of the Caring Commission, UJA-Federation of New York;  Stuart Himmelfarb, chief marketing officer, UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, and Board co-chair, The Jewish Week; and Gary Rosenblatt, editor of The Jewish Week (moderator).

RSVP Today!

Bookshelf & Bibliography

The bookshelf allows users to keep a personalized list of BJPA articles to make it easier to return to items of interest. The bibliography function allows users to generate multiple lists of citations, organize them, and share them with others.

Simply register for a account to access these tools. 


Check out BJPA's new blog, covering topics from Jewish diversity and pluralism to Israel messaging and the outreach debate. We invite your participation and comments!

Follow BJPA on Twitter and become our fan on Facebook!

BJPA is funded by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.