Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
September 2012
Guest Introduction: J.J. Goldberg
Election season always brings with it a sudden, brief national fascination with Jewish politics and the Jewish vote. What is it, and how does it work? The answer is a bit like Hillel's famous explanation of the Torah on one foot: It can be captured in a phrase, but invites a lifetime of study.

The short version is, as the late scholar Milton Himmelfarb once said, that Jews earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto Ricans. The longer version is the subject of this month's Berman Jewish Policy Archive Reader's Guide, and the selection of readings offered here only hints at the topic's complexity. It includes not just the vagaries Jewish opinion and voting patterns but the workings of Jewish lobbying, the role of Jews in American public leadership, the triangular relationship between Israel, America and American Jews, the power structures of Jewish communal life, ties and tensions between Jews and other faith and ethnic communities and, perhaps most important-because it infuses all the rest with meaning and purpose-the nature of Jewish social values.  



J.J. Goldberg 

Senior Columnist, The Jewish Daily Forward  




From Steven M. Cohen

Our Reader's Guide this month provides research and
analysis on Jews and American politics. Here is just a small sample of the many publications featured in the full BJPA Reader's Guide to Jewish Politics:   

Mark S. Mellman, Aaron Strauss, Kenneth D. Wald. The Solomon Project, 2012 


Steven M. Cohen, Samuel Abrams 
Robert P. Jones, Daniel Cox. Public Religion Research Institute 



Ira M. Sheskin, 2012 

Click here to download the entire Guide, including 120+ more publications.


With best wishes,Steven M. Cohen



Prof. Steven M. Cohen

Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner 


New on BJPA:

Research and reports on Israelis abroad (and returning) from Dr. Lilach Lev Arie 
Now at 14,000+ publications, and growing

Some of our latest additions:


Sh'ma September 2012: Lessons from the Book of Yonah--Complete Issue

All the News on Jews' Views: Comparing 3 Polls. J.J. Goldberg. Forward, 2012

Effective CEO Transitioning/Leadership Sustainability in North American Jewish Nonprofit Organizations: A Research Study of 440 CEO's. Steven J. Noble. JCSA, Noble Consulting Associates. 2012

Can't Buy Me Judaism. Seth Chalmer. eJewish Philanthropy. 2012

First and Second Generation Israeli Emigrants and Their Perceptions Regarding Destination Local Jewish Communities: North America and Europe Compared. Lilach Lev Arie. World Council of Israelis Abroad. 2011

The American Dream - For Men Only? Gender, Immigration and the Assimilation of Israelis in the United States. Lilach Lev Arie. 2008


Click here to browse our latest additions. 

New at North American Jewish Databank

JDB The Jewish Vote 2012

Comparisons of Jewish Communities: A Compendium of Tables and Bar Charts

The Influence of Community Context and Individual Characteristics on Jewish Identity: A 21-Community Study

Jewish Population in the United States, 2011

World Jewish Population, 2010

2012 Jewish Values Survey  

Blog: Politics & Scripture

By Seth Chalmer

Both President Obama and Governor Romney recently granted an interview on faith to the magazine of National Cathedral in Washington. Both candidates named favorite passages of scripture, with the choices revealing a fascinating difference in emphasis. One candidate's chosen passage focuses on charity, and specifically on helping the needy with their physical needs. The other candidate's passage discusses God's power over the world, and to provide protection for human beings who trust Him.

If you think you know which favorite scriptural inspiration belongs to which candidate, think twice.

It was Pres. Obama who cited Isaiah 40:31-"But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (NIV)-and Psalm 46. And it was Gov. Romney who cited Matthew 25:35-6-"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me" (KJV).

What, if anything, can we learn from this seeming inversion of what we might expect the two candidates' theologies to emphasize? Why does the President, whose politics insist we are all collectively responsible as a human society to tend to the physical needs of the needy, emphasize God's sovereignty and ability to provide protection? Why does his conservative opponent emphasize handouts of food, hospitality and clothing?

If the candidates chose these passages with an eye toward political traction, perhaps the inversion is a deliberate attempt to reassure religious swing voters that they are not the caricature the other side would paint. Pres. Obama is attacked as a secret Muslim and/or godless Communist, so his biblical passages imply his Christian faith is rock solid. Gov. Romney, on the other hand, knows that conservatism is often attacked as heartless, and one of his gaffes was a declaration that he was "not concerned about the very poor".
So his biblical passage implies that he cares deeply about the needy, and his desire to cut government programs doesn't mean he doesn't value charity on a private basis.  Both choices can be read as damage control...


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