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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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Jewish Identities in Postmodern Societies

Filed under: World Jewry
Publication: Changing Jewish Communities

  • Jewish identity is determined in three ways. How do Jews see themselves? How are they viewed by other Jews? And how are Jews seen by the outside world?
  • Several methods can be used to analyze contemporary Jewish identities. One is to collect information about what people write regarding Jewish identities, either in general or with respect to their own. A second, more scientific method is to analyze sociological and demographic studies of Jewish communities. A third method is to examine various examples of Jewish outreach.
  • Elements of Jewish bonding can include religion, holidays and customs, ancestry, secular Jewish culture, ties with the Jewish community, reactions to anti-Semitism, experiences of the Second World War, and attitudes toward the state of Israel.
  • Studies by the Pew Research Center show that self-identification by American Jews differs significantly from generation to generation as well as that Israelis and American Jews differ on several issues concerning what they see as essential to their Jewishness.

If one searches “Jewish identity” on Google, many millions of entries appear. Is being Jewish a matter of culture, religion, belonging to a nation or to a community? Or is it also something else? For most of the past three millennia, it was relatively simple for Jews to define their identity. Nowadays it has become more difficult than ever before. One among many reasons is the fragmentation of Jewish identities, insofar as Jews define themselves.

We live in an age that cannot be defined properly. The term postmodernity indicates that the current period is described by referring to the one before, which was called “modern.” This inability of definition is one among many manifestations of the overall contemporary crisis. Yet, if one cannot define postmodernity, one can at least explain its main features. Fragmentation is a prime one. Another characteristic is globalization.

This major fragmentation includes the breakdown of structures and the dissipation of authority. With this also comes the disintegration of norms and values. All these lead to increased individualism. Other features of postmodernity are relativism, subjectivism, and pluralism. Political correctness is an effort to establish – often distorting – norms for conduct in a postmodern society. Two characteristics of globalization are the growth of international mass communication and an overload of frequently distorted information. In such a complex and opaque reality, doubts about one’s identity flourish. Many contemporary Western societies are now undergoing an identity crisis. This heavily influences individuals, who, in turn, influence the societal reality.

Jews in Postmodern Societies

This overall environment affects Jewish identities. The main characteristics of postmodernity are also significantly present in the Jewish world.

However, one should first define what identity means. Views on this vary. For the Cambridge Dictionary, identity comprises “the qualities of a person or group which make them different from others.”1

But Steven Cohen, a leading sociologist of American Jewry, says, “There is no accurate word for the complex of Jewish belief, behavior, and belonging. As a result, we employ the term identity for lack of a better one.”2 Those features – “belief, behavior, and belonging” – are the ones mainly used in this analysis.

Threefold Identity

What does it mean to be a Jew in postmodern society? Jewish identity is determined in three ways. How do Jews see themselves? How are they viewed by other Jews? And how are Jews seen by the outside world?

In the past, answers to these questions came relatively easy. Jewish identity was derived from beliefs, behaviors, and belonging that were distinctly different from those of surrounding societies. Jews practiced specific religious commandments. They were frequently physically separated from others and lived mainly – forced to or not – in Jewish neighborhoods. They were often voluntarily or involuntarily identifiable by their clothing.

In the Middle Ages and until the Enlightenment, the Jewish leadership usually had the authority to enforce a well-defined behavior. In the autonomous Jewish communities, Jews were under the control and law of their religious and lay leaders. This mainly resulted from the policies and attitudes of the external Christian or Muslim world toward Jews. One relevant example of how Jewish law determined Jews’ expected attitude in extreme situations was how they had to behave toward mortal threats. The most common Jewish-law opinion was that at such times a Jew could transgress all commandments except three – the prohibitions on idol worship, murder, and incest.

As an example of a frequent Jewish position toward belief, Maimonides maintained that in order to be a Jew one had to believe in 13 principles of faith. Before the autonomy of Jewish communities ended in the 19th century, it was thus relatively simple to define how Jews behaved and what most of them believed.

Viewed by Each Other

Concerning how Jews viewed other Jews, one can get some indication from the Haggadah, the text that is read on Passover evening in a ceremonial dinner called the Seder. This is an educational book, in which Jews relay to their children the story of the Exodus and becoming a free people. 

The Haggadah’s authors divided Jews into four categories. In one of its short sections it refers to them as “Sons.” The first was the “Wise Son.” The second was the Jewish outsider who asked what Jewish religious customs meant to other Jews; he was seen as the “Wicked Son.” The third was the “Simple Son.” The fourth son was so ignorant that he did not even know what to ask.

Today these four types of sons no longer encompass the whole array of Jews. The categories should thus be extended. The last Rabbi of the Chabad movement, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, added a fifth son – the one who does not even show up to the Seder.3 In postmodern societies one could add a few other sons. The sixth one is the child of a mixed marriage who is brought up simultaneously in two different religious environments. He may attend the Seder; one might call him the “Confused Son.”

There is also a seventh son – the one who expresses his Jewishness by attacking other Jews, or particularly Israel. He may ask what the Jews of the Exodus did to turn Pharaoh and his fellow Egyptians into victims. One might call him the “Self-Hating Son.” In past centuries, some Jewish converts to Christianity showed an extraordinary hatred for Judaism. But they did not pretend that they were Jewish. Today, many from this small group of Jewish Israel-haters see claiming their Jewishness as a way to make their incitement more effective.

Perhaps there is even an eighth son who is only partly a “son” – the person who sometimes “feels Jewish.” Nowadays the Seder ceremony is often also attended by non-Jews who are linked to Jewish families by being married to Jews or by friendship. They are not even sons in the sense that the Haggadah uses.

This multiplication of the sons is not a sign of Jewish fertility. It is, rather, a Jewish illustration of postmodernity and the fragmentation of identities it brings with it. This situation often also reflects a Jewish identity crisis.

Viewed by the Outside World

The question how Jews were historically viewed by the outside world can be answered relatively easily. Until the Enlightenment, there was a substantial overlap between how Jews saw themselves and how they were viewed by other Jews. There was also much common ground with how the outside world saw them.

However, at the same time, there was also a major discrepancy. The Jews saw themselves as holders of truth. Yet many Christians said that the Jews’ Covenant had been replaced by a new one. Both Christians and Muslims saw the Jew as “the other.” In the medieval Christian world, Jews were the “quintessential others.” They were the only non-Christians around. As groups forge their identities by positioning and defining themselves against others, Christian Europe could only use the Jews to build its identity. In the Muslim world, the Jews shared being “special others” with Christians; they were both called dhimmis.

Both the Christian and the Muslim worlds viewed the Jews not only as “others” but also as inferior. The degree of inferiority may have differed according to location. One of the most important Church Fathers, Augustine who lived in the fifth century, maintained that the Jews were a “witness people”: their continued existence would prove that Christianity was superior and represented the truth.

On how others determine who is a Jew in an increasingly postreligious society, French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s book Reflexions sur la question Juive offers insights. He considered that “who is a Jew” is largely determined by the non-Jewish world. Sartre asserted that it is not God who has turned people into Jews but, rather, non-Jewish society, thereby creating the “Jewish problem.”  At first sight this may seem absurd. It was certainly untrue before the Enlightenment. A Jew could cease being Jewish to a large extent by becoming a Christian or a Muslim. Sartre, however, wrote his book in 1946, after the Second World War. At that time it was clear that the Germans, in the countries they occupied, had factually determined who was considered a Jew and who was not. They did so based on their definition of “who is a Jew” as laid down in the Nuremberg Laws.

In large areas of Europe during the Second World War, it became true – in a lethal way – that the outside world determined who was a Jew. Through the Nuremburg Laws, the Germans told many people who did not see themselves as Jews that, actually, they were Jews. Some who were labeled as Jews considered themselves Christians and were seen as such by their fellow Christians. Yet they were subject to the Nazi laws concerning Jews. The Holocaust strongly accented one aspect of Jewish identity: its being a “community of fate.”

What was true under the Nazi occupation in modernity has not totally disappeared in postmodern European societies. Today, to some extent, society at large makes certain assimilated Jews feel that they are Jews.

Sometimes it even views some non-Jews as Jews. In 2011 the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam organized an exhibition on interviews with people named Cohen. A number of them were non-Jews. However, they too were perceived as Jews by some of those they were in contact with. There was a great variety of worldviews among those holding this name, and there was no common denominator. One of the people interviewed, a Jew called Peter Cohen, held extreme anti-Israeli views and totally disregarded Palestinian criminality.4

Three Approaches

Several methods can be used to analyze contemporary Jewish identities. One is to collect information about what people write regarding Jewish identities, either in general or with respect to their own. 

A second, more scientific method is to analyze sociological and demographic studies of Jewish communities. Ideally, there should be an academic institution that collects and analyzes the main sociological and demographic studies available worldwide on Jewish identity and draws conclusions from them. This, however, is not the case.

The third method is to examine various examples of Jewish outreach. By analyzing what makes for their success, one can learn much about the Jewish identities of people whom the outreach organizations are in contact with.  

The First Approach: What Do People Say about Jewish Identity?

One strategy is to collect information about what people say about Jewish identity in general, or about their own Jewish identity. Abovementioned American sociologist Steven Cohen says, “In the 1960’s, there was still largely a consensus that being Jewish was a matter of obligations. Such norms can derive from God, parents, nostalgia, tradition, halacha [Jewish law], and/or belonging to the Jewish people. One could violate these, but then one felt guilty about it.” Cohen observes that for most American Jews nowadays, Judaism is an “aesthetic understanding” and being Jewish has increasingly become a matter of individual choice. 5

The American Jewish talk-show host Michael Medved said, “For most American Jews, the core of their Jewish identity isn’t solidarity with Israel; it’s rejection of Christianity.”6 However, sociological surveys reveal that this is not the case. It is even more untrue of European Jewry because Europe has undergone far-reaching secularization. Jewish communities often have far greater problems with aggressive secularists who attack their religious customs than with Christians.

The internationally known Dutch Jewish writer Leon de Winter said, “Identifying with Israel makes me Jewish. I am not religious, but I clearly show where my sympathies lie in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” He adds, “I think that many people take that as a sign of my Jewishness.”7 This is an example where self-identification and how one is viewed by non-Jewish society overlap.

Author Isaac Deutscher wrote an essay titled “The Non-Jewish Jew.”8 He stressed that neither the Jewish religion nor peoplehood meant anything to him. Deutscher’s Jewishness was based mainly on solidarity with other Jews. This attitude differs from that of the former leader of the Dutch Labour Party and former mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen. Although he does not deny that he is Jewish, he has often said that it means very little to him. Yet Cohen receives anti-Semitic letters and emails. He also realizes that behind his back, anti-Semitic remarks are made about him.9 Once again, there are two elements of identity – how Cohen sees himself and how others regard him. 

One could bring many more examples of how individuals define their Jewishness and how society views Jews. This would also lead to a radically different emphasis on what the enemies of the Jews and Israel say about Jewish characteristics. Such a discussion would, however, necessitate a detailed and lengthy analysis of contemporary anti-Semitism.

How Jews view other Jews has evolved greatly from the days when the Passover Haggadah was written. This also reflects on identity. One aspect, for instance, is that some people who have a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother regard themselves as Jews. This self-definition is accepted by many liberal and nonreligious Jews. Yet Orthodox Jews and many others do not consider such people Jews. The result is another split in identity. Some people are halachically and sociologically Jewish, others are only sociologically Jewish.

The Second Approach: Analyzing Sociological and Demographic Studies

A second approach to assessing Jewish identities is to analyze sociological and demographic studies on Jews. In the Netherlands, such a study was done in 2009.10 It investigated what binds people to being Jewish. The questionnaire asked the interviewees, “Can you describe what makes you Jewish instead of ‘just’ Dutch?”

In an earlier study in 1999,11 the questionnaire focused on religion, holidays, and customs as elements of bonding with Judaism. It also assessed bonding via secular Jewish culture, ties with the Jewish community, anti-Semitism, the Second World War, and the state of Israel.12

The authors stated, “Not all these bonds represent a positive sentiment toward Judaism or other Jews. A bond can also be based on negative occurrences related to Judaism, such as experiences one underwent in the Second World War or anti-Semitism.” Here once again, two elements emerge with regard to how Jewish identity is created. One concerns how Jews view their own identity. The other concerns how their identity evolves as a function of how others see them.

This survey also probed the ways in which people identified themselves as Jews. The questions were: “Do I consider myself a Jew? Do I feel Jewish? And in what situations in particular?” In the 2009 study, people were also asked to give themselves grades for how Jewish they were.13 This great variety of questions is a further indication of the fragmentation of Jewish identity.

A survey in 2012 by the Public Religion Research Institute in the United States asked Jews which qualities were most important to their Jewish identity. Forty-six percent said commitment to social equality was most important, compared to 20% who chose support for Israel and 17 percent who saw religious observance as central.14 One might summarize this by saying that God has become a “minority player” in American Jewry.

In recent years a number of reports by the Pew Research Center have provided many additional insights concerning Jewish identity. A 2013 study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” found that self-identification by Jews differs significantly from generation to generation. Ninety-three percent of the generation born between 1914 and 1927 identify as Jews on the basis of religion, while the remaining 7% see themselves as Jews with no religion. However, of the generation born after 1980, only 68% self-identify as Jews by religion, while 32% describe themselves as having no religion and self-identify as Jewish on the basis of ancestry, ethnicity, or culture.15

Eighty-five percent of Jews by religion and 42% of Jews of no religion say that they have “a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people.” Overall, about seven in ten Jews feel either very attached (30%) or somewhat attached (39%) to Israel.

Seventy-three percent of American Jews consider that remembering the Holocaust is essential to their Jewishness. Sixty-nine percent say the same about leading an ethical life. Other such factors include working for justice and equality (56%), caring about Israel (43%), and having a good sense of humor (42%).16

In 2016 the Pew Research Center has published a study of Israel’s religiously divided society17 as well as a comparison between Israeli and American Jews.18 These studies show that Israelis and American Jews differ on several issues concerning what they see as essential to their Jewishness.

Among Israeli Jews, remembering the Holocaust comes at the top of the list of items essential to their Jewishness (65%). This is followed by leading an ethical and moral life (47%), a much lower percentage than in the United States. The next issue considered essential in Israel is observing Jewish law (35%); it is followed by living in Israel (33%).19  

All the studies cited show how Jewish identities have fragmented in the postmodern age. There are other surveys that provide insights into Jewish identities. Several of these have been carried out in the UK by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.20

The Third Approach: Analyzing Outreach

There is a third way to investigate Jewish identities, namely, analyzing the results of outreach by organizations that try to bring Jews closer to Judaism. Many Jews assimilate; intermarriage is an important manifestation of this. This reality has led Jewish organizations to look for ways to bring assimilated Jews closer to Judaism.

Because values and norms have fragmented, there is no single stream of outreach. There is no magic bullet. Thus Jewish organizations have to try many ways to attract Jews. One might call this the “buffet method.” As this approach is almost unlimited in its diversity, one can only mention some of the organizations that are actively involved in outreach.

These bodies usually do not concern themselves much with research on definitions of identity. They look for empirical approaches that are effective. Yet one can learn much about Jewish identity from how these organizations work and succeed.

Before doing so, another issue has to be addressed: fundamentalism. One distinct trend in the Jewish world is that a certain number of people become ultra-Orthodox. The same happens in other religions such as Christianity and Islam. Fundamentalism manifests the negation of postmodernism. It is an escape from what postmodern society is about. Often it is the result of a personal identity crisis. In such a reality, ultra-Orthodoxy provides a feeling of certainty and a visible Jewish identity.

Birthright Israel

 Two organizations in particular have been remarkably successful in strengthening Jewish identities: Birthright Israel and the Chabad movement. Both appeal to feelings of Judaism rather than to rational discourse.

Birthright Israel is by far the largest Jewish outreach program. It was launched around the turn of this century. It consists of a ten-day educational experience in Israel for youngsters mainly from North America in the 18-26 age range. The effect of Birthright Israel on young Jews has been researched in great detail. Its key element is that it allows Jews from the Diaspora to visit Israel in the company of young Israeli adults, especially soldiers.

The aim of the program is to elicit these young Jews’ attachment to the Land of Israel, Jewish heritage, traditions, and Torah. It is by nature superficial as it is so brief, yet it resonates with the participants. This means that among many Jews there are residual or weak identities that can be strengthened. Even within the more assimilated participants there is a Jewish spark that can be lit.21

The Chabad Movement

Another important outreach program is that of the Chabad movement. It is very empirical and not based on much theory. This movement sends out emissaries all over the world. Most will stay in the locations they are sent to their entire lives.

One typical manifestation of Chabad’s activities is to bring Judaism into the public sphere. The best-known instance is the lighting of Chanukah candelabras in public places in many cities of the world. Chabad often tries to get non-Jewish public figures to light these as well. In Rome the candelabrum is lit on the Piazza Barberini. As this ceremony takes place in the public domain, even those Jews who suppress their Judaism are sometimes confronted with this symbol of Jewishness.

Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs of the Dutch Interprovincial Rabbinate, who belongs to Chabad, said in June 2012 that he was already booked for all evenings of Chanukah six months in advance. He added, “On some evenings I will even light the candelabrum twice publicly [in different locations].”22 

Another example of Chabad bringing Judaism into the public sphere is the Sabbath meals at its restaurant in Venice. Some diners sit at the tables on the quay of one of the city’s waterways. Those passing on the municipal waterbuses notice the singing and dancing of the participants.  

The welcoming nature of the Chabad movement toward any Jew in its facilities is a further characteristic of this outreach movement. Chabad’s success is in essence based on giving people who are Jewish a feeling of being welcome and loved in a non-demanding environment.23 The extent to which identity-seeking is involved is one question. Another is how much the seeking of religious experience is involved.

Yet another focus of the Chabad movement’s activities is being present at important lifecycle moments within nursery schools, childcare centers, and increasingly also at universities. What is concerned here is the development of identities. There are specific moments in life when it is more likely that identities will either be strengthened or weakened. A further focus is to be present in locations where Jews travel. The much-publicized Seder in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, is one of many such activities. 

The Jonet Project

JMW, the major Jewish social organization in the Netherlands, has launched a much more limited outreach project of a different nature. The Jonet project seeks to enable peripheral Jews to participate in activities of the Netherlands’ Jewish community.24 One important aspect of Jonet is that it does not aim solely at Jews.

Hans Vuijsje, the director of JMW, notes that on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, many Jews have non-Jewish family members at their tables. He calls it the “extended Jewish family.” Such people have a Jewish-related identity that is not Jewish. Some of them, for instance, participate in the Seder.

The Jonet project aims to increase the interest of peripheral Jews, or of non-Jews related to Jews, in Judaism. This is done in the hope that they will pass on some Jewish elements to their children. The project consists of a website and various social media activities, allowing more Jews to stay in contact with each other. Non-Jews of the extended family may also be involved.25

The three projects discussed here each address different aspects of Jewish identity. Birthright appeals to identification with Israel, yet does so mainly within a short time frame. Chabad addresses religious and social feelings. Jonet promotes contacts between Jews.

A Community of Fate

Much of the above discussion illustrates one aspect of postmodernity: the fragmentation of norms and values. Other features of postmodernity can also be illustrated with examples from the Jewish world. As far as globalization is concerned, one incident and reactions to it manifest an aspect of it.

In March 2012 the murders by Mohammed Merah of three Jewish children and a Jewish teacher at a school in Toulouse, France, led to increased security measures at schools and other Jewish institutions. This happened not only in many European countries; there were even cases of increased security in the United States as well.26

This situation points to another aspect of Jewish identity that does not necessarily emerge as such in sociological surveys: being Jewish has again become a “community of fate.” This community of fate has replaced, to some extent, the community of faith. During the Second World War, Jews were also a major community of fate. There are other aspects of this reality as well; for instance, many Jews in the Diaspora are held responsible for the actions of Israel. Another aspect is that self-hating Jews often try to escape the community of fate.

Fragmentation of Structure and Authority

With regard to fragmentation, the main emphasis so far has been on identity and values. However, another characteristic of fragmentation in postmodernity is the breakdown of structures. Rabbi Richard Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish organization in the United States, illustrated this in his speech at the organization’s biennial meeting at the end of 2011. He said, “The fastest growing group in Jewish communal life is the lifelong unaffiliated and the lifelong uninspired.” About his own organization Jacobs said, “Eighty percent of our children are leaving the synagogue by the end of 12th grade.”27

Jack Wertheimer, one of the leading scholars of American Jewry, said, “In the postwar era, powerful national organizations set the agenda of the American Jewish community. Today it is hard to discern whether truly powerful organizations in American Jewry still exist, let alone whether these set its agenda.”28

 An issue that needs to be addressed in far more detail is that of Israeli identities. Among Israeli generations growing up, many will serve in the army and some of them will risk their lives. Once one’s life is at stake, everything else becomes secondary. The very different past experiences of Israel and of other societies indicate that Israelis live in a reality and have worldviews that differ from those of other societies. This influences their identity. Having served in the army also means that one cannot live a life as fully dominated by individualism as is possible in Europe.

Israeli identities thus differ significantly from Jewish identities in the Diaspora. This was further illustrated, for instance, by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words when he spoke on National Memorial Day: “When you hear the siren tonight, we will turn into one family and the citizens of Israel will be united in our remembrance.”29

The importance of remembrance and recollection in Jewish identity is another subject to be explored in greater detail. The Holocaust is a major aspect of this, but not the only one.

The Future

As far as the future is concerned, it is likely that postmodernity is here to stay. The forces that create it cannot be undone. Reestablishing authority will be very difficult. And with regard to structures, the future of the European Union is problematic, the more so after the June 2016 Brexit referendum. Multiple types of societal vulnerability are increasing in many places.

In such an environment, two phenomena will intensify. One is the escape from postmodernism, which expresses itself in ultra-Orthodoxy. That tendency is also strengthened by the large families of many ultra-Orthodox Jews. 

The other is a further fragmentation of identities. That phenomenon will be augmented by the large number of mixed marriages. Amid such fragmentation, organized Jewry will come under further pressure. At the same time, outreach activities that demand little commitment from those accepting them will be reinforced. 

Many aspects of identity that merit more analysis have not been touched on here. Among them, for instance, are the relationship between personal and group identities and the role of pride in being Jewish.30 This is yet another indication of how large and diversified the subject of contemporary Jewish identities has become.

* * *



2 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Steven Cohen, “Changes in American Jewish Identities: From the Collective to the Personal, from Norms to Aesthetics,” in Manfred Gerstenfeld and Steven Bayme, American Jewry’s Comfort Level: Present and Future (Jerusalem: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2010), 123-142.

3 Menachem Posner, “What is the Biblical source for the Four Sons mentioned in the Haggadah?”

4 Daniel Cohn and Mischa Cohen, Mijn naam is Cohen (Amsterdam: Cohen Uitgevers, 2011).

5 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Steven Cohen, “Changes in American Jewish Identities.”

6 Michael Medved, in “Why Are Jews Liberals?: A Symposium,” Commentary, September 2009.

7 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Leon de Winter, “The Presence of Jews in Europe Will End,” Israel National News, 22 November 2011,

8 Isaac Deutscher, Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968). 

9 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Rosa van der Wieken-De Leeuw, “Amsterdam, Israel, Joden en moslims,” in Het Verval: Joden in een Stuurloos Nederland (Amsterdam: Van Praag, 2010), 253.

10 Hanna van Solinge and Carlo van Praag, De Joden in Nederland anno 2009 continuïteit en veranderin ( Diemen: AMB, 2010).  

11 Hanna van Solinge and Marlene de Vries, De Joden in Nederland Anno 2000 (Amsterdam: Aksant, 2001).

12 Van Solinge and Van Praag, 49.

13 Ibid., 52.

14 “Survey – Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012,”

15 “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” Pew Research Center, 1 October 2013.  

16 Ibid.

17 “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society,” Pew Research Center, 8 March 2016.

18, 8 March 2016.

19 Ibid.


21 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Leonard Saxe, “The Birthright Israel Program: Present and Possible Future Impacts,” in Gerstenfeld and Bayme, American Jewry’s Comfort Level, 247.

22 Sarah Whitlau, “Een rabbijn heeft altijd dienst,” NIW, 15 June 2012.

23 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Samuel Heilman, “The Chabad Lubavitch Movement: Filling the Jewish Vacuum Worldwide,” Changing Jewish Communities 3, 15 December 2005.


25 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Hans Vuijsje, “JMW, Hulpverlening en Samenlevingsopbouw,” Aleh, February-March 2012.

26 “New York police tighten security at Jewish sites,” Reuters, 19 March 2012.

27 Phil Jacobs, “New URJ prez: ‘Synagogues must speak to our souls,’” Washington Jewish Week, 22 December 2011.

28 Manfred Gerstenfeld, interview with Jack Wertheimer, “The Fragmentation of American Jewry and Its Leadership,” in Gerstenfeld and Bayme, American Jewry’s Comfort Level, 113.

29 Yaakov Katz and Melanie Lidman, “We won’t agree to live under a constant threat, Gantz tells Remembrance Day mourners,” The Jerusalem Post, 25 April 2012.

30 Herbert C. Kelman, “The Place of Ethnic Identity in the Development of Personal Identity: A Challenge for the Jewish Family,” in Peter Medding (ed.), Coping with Life and Death, Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Vol. 14, 3-26.