Jonathan Woocher

Jonathan Woocher, PhD, is CEO of JESNA and director of its Lippman Kanfer Institute, an action-oriented think tank for innovation in Jewish learning and engagement. Before coming to JESNA in 1986, Dr. Woocher taught at Carleton College and Brandeis University.

Publications by Jonathan Woocher

The Geo-Politics of the American Jewish Community

The Changing Character of American Jewish Leadership: Some Policy Implications

The study of policy-making in the Jewish community is a generally neglected area in contemporary research on Jewish life. One way to begin exploration of this domain is by looking at the characteristics of Jewish communal leaders, those who play the greatest role in policy-making. Over the past few decades leadership characteristics have been changing. Research and impressionistic evidence confirm that Jewish organizational leaders are more Jewishly-oriented, more focused on “survival” issues, and more formally socialized into leadership roles than in the past. These changes have a number of implications for both the substance of communal policies and the dynamics of policy-making which bear further study. Read More »

Teaching the Jewish Political Tradition to the Jewish Civil Service

A convergence of three developments ? the American Jewish community’s maturing self-awareness, the growth of Jewish communal service as a professional field, and the emergence of Jewish political studies as an academic discipline ? makes possible a new emphasis on serious study of the Jewish political tradition as a key component in thetraining of Jewish communal professionals. Jewish political studies can provide these professionals (and lay leaders) with a knowledge base and perspectives that link Jewish values and historical experience to contemporary issues of communal organization, process, and policy. Experiences in both academic and non-academic settings have shown that a thematic, issue-oriented approach to teaching the Jewish political tradition can enhance lay and professional leaders’ sense of authenticity and effectiveness as Jewish leaders. Read More »

Plain Speaking and Hopeful Planning: Charting a New Course for Israel-Diaspora Relations

Are American Jews Becoming Conservatives and Should They?

American Jewish Political Activism in the 1980’s: Five Dilemmas