Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
March 2013
From Prof. Steven M. Cohen   


Dear Friends,

A commitment to economic justice is deeply embedded in Jewish tradition, history, and culture. Throughout their several thousand year history, Jews as a people, culture and community have cared not only for the poor, but for the ways in which society treats the poor and other vulnerable populations.

The Tanakh, Talmud, pre-modern kehillot, Zionism, Bundism, the American labor movement, and the record of Jewish communal life in the United States all display strong elements of concern with the distribution of wealth and the needs of the impoverished. In much of 20th century America, Jews and their institutions largely sided with liberal, if not progressive, strains in American political life and social discourse.

Recent times have, if anything, highlighted economic justice concerns. The Great Recession and other factors led to the explosion in Jewish poverty. In the New York area, for example, the number of people living in poor Jewish households grew from 244,000 in 2002 to 361,000 in 2011, encompassing a fifth of all such people in Jewish households in the New York area. (See the Jewish Community Study of New York 2011.) The recent presidential election highlighted differences over economic policies. Not surprisingly, the Jewish vote turned on matters of economic justice, the key determinant of which Jews voted for Obama, and which for Romney. (See the Workmen's Circle / Arbeter Ring 2012 American Jews' Political Values Survey.)

Economic justice issues dominate public discourse, with continued focus on such matters as taxes, Medicare, food stamps, minimum wage, affordable housing, social services, and related issues. As recent surveys well document, US Jews as individuals remain well to the left of the societal center on most of these questions. Yet, as an organized community, one would be hard-put to find Jewish leadership articulating a clear message in favor of protecting, let alone expanding entitlements, or taxing the more fortunate to ameliorate the hardship experienced by the far less fortunate.

The BJPA Reader's Guide: Economic Justice covers a sweep of writings-analytic, policy-oriented, philosophic, and religious-from the depths of the Great Depression in 1932 to the current time. It spans both North America and Israel. And, for the most part, it demonstrates a deep and historic commitment to alleviating poverty and redressing the societal ills that create and tolerate increasing numbers of poor people alongside non-parallel increases in wealth and affluence. 

Click here* to view the entire BJPA Reader's Guide to Economic Justice.   


Best wishes,Steven M. Cohen



Prof. Steven M. Cohen

Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner 



*Having trouble with the link above? Copy and paste this into your browser window:

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Biased, Prejudiced, and Unprofessional: The UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission Report on Israeli Settlements. Alan Baker. JCPA Jerusalem Issue Brief, March 2013

Breaking for Change: How Jewish Service-learning Influences the Alternative Break Experience. Brandie Good, Lyn E. Swackhamer, Shelley H. Billig. Repair the World, March 2013

The Next Pope and the Jews. Seth Chalmer. On the Square, March 2013

Key Findings: 2012 Jewish Communal Compensation Survey.  Naomi Korb Weiss, Avi Herring, Justin Rosen Smolen, Tamar Snyder, Mordecai Walfish, Ruthie Warshenbrot. eJewish Philanthropy, March 2013

Jerusalem in International Diplomacy. Dore Gold. JCPA, March 2013

The Changing Character of the American Rabbinate: Some Reflections. Steven Windmueller. eJewish Philanthropy, March 2013

Sh'ma March 2013: A Jewish Lens on Taxes

2011 Census Results (England and Wales): Initial Insights into Jewish Neighbourhoods. David Graham. JPR, February 2013

Click here to browse our latest additions. 

Free: Take Home Physical Documents from the AJC Library

BJPA is seeking homes for hundreds of publications from the now-downsized AJC library (see this article for explanation). This material has been scanned for inclusion on BJPA, but paper originals must find homes or they will be recycled. They are available at no cost, first-come, first-serve; about half are still available. APPOINTMENTS NECESSARY. Fill out this form to request a list of materials and/or request an appointment to browse and take materials. 
JDBNew at North American Jewish Databank

A Tale of Four Cities 2012

Pocket Demographics 2012

 East Bay CA 2011

Jewish Map of the United States

The Jewish Vote 2012

Compendium of Comparisons

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  


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