Judaism: U.S. experts and organizations

Judaism is among the world’s oldest religions, emerging in the Middle East more than 4,000 years ago. Like most world religions, it is not frozen in form but is constantly affected by the times in which its followers live.

Today, Jews in America and elsewhere are redefining what it means to be Jewish and the ways this ancient religion is practiced. Among the recent developments in contemporary Judaism are the rise of independent, lay-led worship, prayer and fellowship groups; a growing push for “green” synagogues; a re-examination of American Jews’ relationship with Israel; a demand to expand kosher certification to include social justice standards as well as food cleanliness; the expansion of roles for women in the synagogue and beyond; and the further organization and visibility of previously marginalized groups, such as homosexual Orthodox Jews.

Contemporary American Judaism offers a wellspring of story ideas beyond the typical explanatory holiday story. This source guide provides a starting point for exploring the issues and a resource for researching stories throughout the year.

Background

  • Jewish Virtual Library

    The Jewish Virtual Library is an online Jewish encyclopedia with 13,000 articles and 6,000 photographs on topics ranging from anti-Semitism to Zionism as well as statistics on numerous aspects of Jewish life.

  • Judaism 101

    Judaism 101 is a general clearinghouse of information about Judaism run by Tracey Rich, a Jewish layperson. It contains descriptions of the Jewish calendar, the Hebrew alphabet, holidays, life-cycle events, rituals, observances and much more.

  • ReligiousTolerance.org: Judaism

    ReligiousTolerance.org has an extensive section on Jews and Judaism, including descriptions of recent controversies, including Christian Zionism, missionary efforts aimed at Jews and recent acts of anti-Semitism.

  • Shamash

    Shamash, a project of Hebrew College Online, maintains a kosher database and information on Jewish books, the Holocaust and the Tanakh, or Hebrew Bible. It includes links to all things Jewish on the Internet.

Major issues

Israel

Concern over the state of Israel — its protection and sovereignty — continues to be a major issue among American Jews. But as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues with no end in sight, American Jews have become less unified on the issue. A growing number, disheartened by Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, are taking the Middle Eastern nation to task for abuses its own people once suffered, like ghettoization. The issue threatens to divide many Jewish congregations, communities and families. Younger Jews especially, sometimes with little or no connection to Israel, have raised questions about U.S. support and involvement there.

Who is a Jew?

According to traditional interpretations of Jewish law, a person born to a Jewish mother is automatically considered a Jew. But today, other factors of identity come into play. All main branches of Judaism recognize converts, or “Jews by choice.” But conversion processes and standards can vary widely. In 2006, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Beth Din of America, representing the Orthodox movement, launched a project “to establish an improved and more dependable conversion process.” In January 2007, a North American Regional Network of Conversion Courts was established. The Rabbinical Council has a website explaining the procedure. Complicating the issue of who is a Jew are advances in treating infertility. What is the status of a baby created from a donor egg from a non-Jewish donor but carried to term by a Jewish woman? Of a baby created by eggs from a Jewish donor but carried to term by a non-Jewish surrogate mother? Of a non-Jewish baby adopted by a Jewish family? What of Africans who trace their heritage back to “lost tribes” of Jews? As the number of people who identify as Jews declines, definitions of “who is a Jew” will grow in urgency.

Jewish-Christian relations

Interfaith dialogue among these two groups, at least in the U.S., is very strong. The apology by Pope John Paul II for the silence of the Catholic Church during World War II and the statement by Pope Benedict XVI absolving Jews in the death of Jesus have done much to salve old wounds. But there are still some hurdles. Many Jews are put off by Zionist Christians, those who work for a strong Israel because they believe it is necessary for the heralding in of the end times, a period of upheaval before the eventual return of Christ. More are offended by Christian missionaries who seek to convert Jews to Christianity, another ingredient for the end times. Jews have been organizing their own groups to combat the missionaries and educate Zionist Christians.

Jewish-Muslim relations

Tension between Jews and Muslims extends back to the seventh century, when Jewish tribes in Medina, Arabia, rejected the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Tensions were heightened with the creation of Israel in 1948 and worsened under the Second Intifada. But since 9/11, there has been an increase in dialogue between Jews and Muslims as more try to look past their current political differences, especially with regard to Israel, and focus on their shared historical background. Some involved in the exchange say Jews can help Muslims navigate the prejudices and stereotypes of a post-9/11 world, and others hope that the dialogue will eventually facilitate peace in the Middle East. On Sept. 3, 2008, Hebrew College hosted an event titled “The Future of Jewish-Muslim Relations.” Also in 2008, the Jewish Publication Society released An Introduction to Islam for Jews by Rabbi Reuven Firestone. MyJewishLearning.com has an entry by Ira Rifkin on the history of Jewish-Muslim relations.

Intra-Jewish relations

In addition to the expected differences between the branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist), there are smaller, but still very deep, divisions. Most center on the question of how strictly to interpret Jewish law, or Halakhah. But there are also divisions between religious and secular Jews. Some religious Jews ask, is a Jew without religion still a Jew? Is he or she somehow less of a Jew than a religious Jew? Many both within and outside of Judaism believe that until Jews can find more harmony and tolerance within their own community, they will be reduced in power and influence.

Independent groups

According to the 2007 National Spiritual Communities Study, the previous decade saw the rapid growth of independent minyanim, or prayer groups, and independent havurot, or circles of fellowship. (Traditionally, a minyan is a quorum of 10 Jews, usually men, needed to perform some religious duties.) In some ways, these groups are like the independent house churches and worship groups of the emergent church movement in Christian circles. They are often lay-led and have no denominational affiliation. Questions have arisen as to how they will affect American Judaism. Should they be welcomed as a form of revitalizing and renewing Jewish identity among young, post-denominational Jews who feel uncomfortable or disconnected in a synagogue atmosphere, where singles sometimes say they feel neglected in favor of families? Or should they be a concern because many are not led by ordained rabbis trained in Jewish law and theology? Regardless, scholars agree they are transforming the way young Jews approach their faith and identify with their religion and culture.

Keeping kosher as social justice

The most conservative Jews (Orthodox and Conservative) adhere to strict dietary laws, known as Kashrut. Most have to do with the ritual slaughtering of animals. But a recent movement has taken hold, especially within the Conservative branch, to make kosher standards include requirements for decent pay, good working conditions, compassionate treatment of animals and adherence to government environmental standards. The movement, known as Magen Tzedek, which means “certificate of righteousness,” got a boost from controversies over labor treatment at kosher meatpacking facilities in Iowa. It is spearheaded by Rabbi Morris Allen of Minnesota.

Never again

How will the Jewish community and the rest of the world impart the historic and cultural lessons of the Holocaust as the eyewitnesses and the survivors die? Who will speak for the survivors after they are gone? How will the Jewish community and others combat Holocaust deniers in the future? Meanwhile, a growing number of Jews are speaking out against genocide in Darfur and around the world in the belief that they, perhaps more than any other people, are called by their faith and history to do so.

The next generation

Every religious and ethnic minority struggles with how to pass on cultural and religious knowledge and heritage to succeeding generations, and Jews are no different. The question among Jewish educators is what is the best means of transfer – religious day schools, after-school programs, synagogue instruction, summer camps or trips to Israel?

Homosexuality and Judaism

Like many other religious groups, Jews struggle with the roles that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people should play in their faith. The Reform branch has ordained gay and lesbian rabbis since 1990 and allowed same-sex unions since 2000, while the Conservative branch accepted both in 2006. Reconstructionist Judaism has ordained gay and lesbian rabbis since 1985, and in 2007 it elected its first openly gay president in Rabbi Toba Spitzer. Orthodox Judaism does not recognize homosexuality as a lifestyle in line with Jewish law. Meanwhile, Jewish LGBT people continue to organize and pressure the different branches of Judaism for acceptance. ReligiousTolerance.org maintains a page on the policies and teachings of each branch about homosexuality.

Jews with disabilities

Many Jews with disabilities believe that they are not always fully included in the worship service, life-cycle events and synagogue life of their communities. They have begun to organize to speak for themselves, to educate their fellow Jews and to claim a place in the synagogue and beyond. In 2007 in Minneapolis, some parents claimed their children were denied access to religious school and synagogue programs, leading to community-wide reform.

Branches and movements

Orthodox

Orthodox Judaism is considered the oldest form of the religion. In general, it is characterized by a more literal and stringent adherence to Halakhah, or Jewish religious law, than other branches. But there is a spectrum of Orthodoxy, with the Haredi on the far right and the so-called Modern Orthodox on the left. The Haredi (the word is Hebrew and means “to tremble in awe before God”) are sometimes called the Hasidim or the “ultra-Orthodox,” though they consider the latter term derogatory. (Because of that, RNA’s Religion Stylebook recommends using more precise, descriptive language instead of “ultra-Orthodox.”) The Modern Orthodox movement attempts to adapt – up to a point – Halakhah to the demands of contemporary society.

  • Chabad-Lubavitch

    Chabad-Lubavitch is one of the largest Hasidic groups within the Orthodox branch of Judaism. It is based in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, and its followers are students of a line of seven rabbis, the last of which was Rebbe Menachem Schneerson, who died in 1994. Outside of New York and Israel, Chabad is primarily known for the international network of “Chabad Houses” it runs in places large (Paris, Prague, Pittsburgh) and small (Big Sky, Mont.; Fairbanks, Ala.; Rogers, Ark.), where Chabad rabbis and their wives work to reconnect Jews to their faith traditions and roots. Their website has a state-by-state list of Chabad houses in the U.S. Contact through the website.

  • Orthodox Union

    The Orthodox Union is the educational and outreach arm of Orthodox Judaism. It is generally considered a Modern Orthodox organization. Among its main concerns is helping Jews keep kosher and strengthening their traditional rituals, practices and holiday observances. It posts a page that allows users to search for Orthodox synagogues by state. Rabbi Steven Weil is senior managing director.

  • Rabbinical Council of America

    The Rabbinical Council of America is an organization of Orthodox rabbis, most of whom are Modern Orthodox. Rabbi Leonard Matanky is president. It is based in New York City.

  • Union of Orthodox Rabbis

    The Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, or the Agudath Harabonim, is an association of Haredi rabbis. It was once a part of the Orthodox Union but split away in 1901. The association does not have a website.

Conservative

Conservative Judaism arose out of Germany in the mid-19th century and took root in America. It is a blend of the traditional practice with the progressive, centered on the idea that Jewish law – Halakhah – is binding but must evolve to meet the times.

Reform

Reform Judaism, developed in the United States in the mid-19th century, is founded on the belief that Judaism must respond and change with the times. It was the first branch of Judaism to ordain women as rabbis and cantors and today welcomes Jews of all sexual orientations and lifestyles, as well as converts to Judaism. It also recognizes children of interfaith families as Jews, regardless of which parent is Jewish, so long as the child is raised as a Jew.

Reconstructionist

Reconstructionist Judaism is the newest branch of Judaism, developed in America as an offshoot of Conservative Judaism in the mid-20th century. It is built upon a more naturalistic idea of God – one who is not personal – and on the belief that Jewish law is subordinate to secular, contemporary morality.

Renewal

Jewish Renewal is a progressive movement within Judaism that seeks to revitalize traditional Judaism by infusing it with mystical and meditative practices drawn from Hasidic Judaism and other mystical sources.

  • Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal

    Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal is an umbrella organization of Jewish groups dedicated to religious renewal of Judaism. It maintains a directory of affiliate communities. The main offices are in Philadelphia.

  • Ohalah

    Ohalah, the Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, is associated with Aleph and is designed to link Renewal rabbis and cantors with members of the Jewish community. On its website are lists of people, synagogues and organizations committed to Jewish renewal. It is based in Las Vegas.

Black Hebrews

Black Hebrews, also known as Black Hebrew Israelites, African Hebrew Israelites and Hebrew Israelites, believe they are the descendents of the ancient Israelites. Black Hebrews are often not accepted by the wider Jewish community and many choose to self-idetify as one of the above names as opposed to Jews. Several Black Hebrew groups were founded in the late 19th and early 20th century. These groups vary in their structure, theology and adherence to traditional Jewish practices and beliefs.

  • John L. Jackson

    John L. Jackson Jr. is the Richard Perry University Professor of Communication, Africana Studies and Anthropology in the Standing Faculty of the Annenberg School for Communication and the Standing Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. He has researched the beliefs and practices of Black Hebrews.

Demographic data

  • American Jewish Yearbook

    The American Jewish Yearbook offers information and analysis about the American Jewish community, Jewish demography, Jewish history and Jewish life worldwide from 1899 to the present. It is produced annually by the American Jewish Committee. Data from 1899-2008 is available for free online. More recent editions are available for purchase.

  • Jewish Virtual Library

    The Jewish Virtual Library is an online Jewish encyclopedia with 13,000 articles and 6,000 photographs on topics ranging from anti-Semitism to Zionism as well as statistics on numerous aspects of Jewish life.

  • North American Jewish Data Bank

    The North American Jewish Data Bank is a repository of social scientific studies of the Jews of North America.

  • U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

    The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey is an extensive survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life which details the religious makeup, beliefs and practices as well as social and political attitudes of the American public.

  • Association of Religion Data Archives

    The Association of Religion Data Archives provides numerous data collections on religion.

    It has data on the number of Jewish clergy, congregations and members in the U.S. from 1931 through 1990.

    Contact: 814-865-6258.

Jewish history

  • National Museum of American Jewish History

    The National Museum of American Jewish History, on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, presents educational programs and experiences that preserve, explore and celebrate the history of Jews in America. Its purpose is to connect Jews more closely to their heritage and to inspire in people of all backgrounds a greater appreciation for the diversity of the American Jewish experience and the freedoms to which Americans aspire. Contact Yael Eytan or Ilana Blumenthal in the communications department.

    Contact: 215-923-3811.
  • Torah.org

    Torah.org is a Jewish outreach program from Project Genesis. The organization reaches out internationally to educate on Jewish beliefs through resources and courses provided online. Email through the website.

    Contact: 410-602-1350.

Holocaust museums and groups

  • Association of Holocaust Organizations

    The Association of Holocaust Organizations works to advance programming, research and education about the Holocaust. Member organizations are posted on the website. William L. Shulman is president of the association’s board, as well as president of the Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College in Bayside, N.Y.

  • Holocaust Educational Foundation

    The Holocaust Educational Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization founded by Holocaust survivors, their children and their friends to promote awareness of the Holocaust. The foundation sponsors teacher and faculty training, as well as educational programs for youth. It is based in Skokie, Ill.

  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., commemorates those who died in the Holocaust and strives to confront bigotry and genocide throughout the world today.

  • USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education

    The USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education documents the experiences of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses. It has taped more than 50,000 testimonies and produced films and classroom materials. Its mission is to “overcome prejudice, intolerance and bigotry – and the suffering they cause – through the educational use of the Foundation’s visual histories.” Stephen D. Smith is the executive director of the institute, which is in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California.

    Contact: 213-740-6001.
  • Israel Science and Technology Homepage

    The Israel Science and Technology Homepage is a database and directory of science and technology related sites in Israel. The site also includes sections on Jewish scientists and students in the Diaspora. Contact through the form on their website.

    They maintain a list of Holocaust museums throughout the world that includes 24 sites in the United States.

National historical societies and archives

State and regional historical societies

Genealogy

Selected Jewish media

  • Commentary Magazine

    Commentary Magazine is a monthly neo-conservative magazine that focuses on politics and current events. John Podhoretz is editorial director.

    Contact: 212-891-1394.
  • Heeb

    Heeb calls itself “a take-no-prisoners zine for the plugged-in and preached-out.” Launched in 2001, the magazine covers politics, arts and culture and is marketed to young Jewish sophisticates. Joshua Neuman is editor and publisher.

  • Jewish Action

    Jewish Action is a print and online magazine of the Orthodox Union. Nechama Carmel is the editor.

    Contact: 212-613-8146.
  • The Jewish Daily Forward

    The Jewish Daily Forward is a Jewish-American newspaper and website published in New York City.

  • The Jewish Week

    The Jewish Week is a newspaper with five regional editions that cover the Jewish community in the New York City area and around the world. Gary Rosenblatt is editor and publisher.

  • Lilith Magazine

    Lilith Magazine is a Jewish feminist magazine that covers politics, religion, art and culture. Susan Weidman Schneider is editor in chief and one of the founders of the publication.

  • Moment

    Moment magazine focuses on Jewish life and culture in America.

  • Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility

    Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility is a monthly magazine that contains essays about a central issue in Judaism, such as rituals, family life and Israel. It was founded by Eugene Borowitz and is edited by Susan Berrin.

  • Tikkun

    Tikkun is a bimonthly magazine that covers politics, culture and society. It is published in Berkeley, Calif., with a progressive Jewish sensibility and is edited by Rabbi Michael Lerner. It maintains a network of Tikkun communities throughout the U.S. that are geared toward progressive social action.

  • Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture

    Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture is a print and online magazine that “represents, defines and creates New Jewish Culture … [and] builds a bridge between religious and secular, connects Israeli creativity with the diaspora, and helps to create a vital, inclusive Judaism for the 21st century.” Jo Ellen Green Kaiser is editor in chief. The magazine is based in New York City.

National sources

Universities and seminaries

  • Academy for Jewish Religion

    The Academy for Jewish Religion is a rabbinical and cantorial school in Riverdale, N.Y., that serves all branches of Judaism. Ora Horn Prouser is executive vice president and dean.

    Contact: 914-709-0900.
  • Academy for Jewish Religion, California

    The Academy for Jewish Religion, California, is a transdenominational rabbinical, cantorial and chaplaincy school in Los Angeles associated with the Hillel Center for Jewish Life on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. Rabbi Mel Gottlieb is president.

  • American Jewish University

    American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism and Brandeis-Bardin Institute) is a transdenominational school in Los Angeles, and AJU’s Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies ordains Conservative rabbis, both men and women. It maintains a page of issues and experts for journalists. Robert Wexler is AJU’s president.

  • Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University

    Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Jewish studies, Jewish education and Jewish communal service. Erika Schon is the director.

  • Brandeis University

    Brandeis University is a private, nonsectarian Jewish university in Waltham, Mass. It was founded in 1948 as a university for Jews rejected by Ivy League schools because of quotas. Fred Lawrence is president.

    Contact: 781-736-3001.
  • Drisha Institute for Jewish Education

    The Drisha Institute for Jewish Education is a school created for Jewish women who want to study advanced Hebrew texts. Rabbi David Silber is its founder and dean. It is in New York City.

  • Gratz College

    Gratz College is a transdenominational school in Melrose Park, Pa., that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. It also operates a Jewish Community High School. Jerry Kutnick is dean of academic affairs.

  • Hebrew College

    Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Mass., has programs in Jewish studies, Jewish education, transdenominational rabbinic ordination for both men and women, cantor education and Mekorot (Hebrew language and Jewish texts). It also maintains Prozdor, a Jewish high school. Rabbi Daniel Lehmann is the college’s president.

  • Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

    The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion trains rabbis, cantors, teachers and others in Reform Judaism at campuses in Cincinnati, New York City, Los Angeles and Jerusalem. It ordains both men and women. Contact Allison Glazer or Jean Bloch Rosensaft.

     

  • Jewish Theological Seminary

    The Jewish Theological Seminary is a collection of five schools, including a rabbinical school, in New York City. It ordains both men and women in the Conservative movement. A page for journalists lists faculty members by topic.

  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

    The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pa., ordains rabbis in the Reconstructionist tradition of Judaism. It ordains both men and women. A page for journalists lists experts by topic. Eileen Fisher is assistant vice president for communications.

  • Spertus College

    Spertus College is the transdenominational academic branch of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago. It offers master’s and doctoral degrees in Jewish studies and Jewish education.

  • Tufts University

    Tufts University is a private university with campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville & Grafton, Mass., and Talloires, France. It boasts a very large Jewish student population and was named one of the ten “most Jewish” universities by Reform Judaism magazine in 2008. Patrick Collins is the executive director of public relations.

  • Yeshiva University

    Yeshiva University, based in Manhattan, is the flagship school of higher education in Orthodox Judaism in the United States. Yeshiva is identified with the Modern Orthodox movement.

Jewish studies programs

Civil rights advocacy organizations

  • American Jewish Committee

    The American Jewish Committee is an international think tank and advocacy organization that works to identify and fight anti-Semitism and bigotry, protect human rights and protect Israel and Jewish life everywhere. Its executive director is David Harris. Contact via Jon Schweitzer, director of public affairs.

  • Anti-Defamation League

    The Anti-Defamation League tracks discrimination based on religion. ADL has 30 regional offices. Check with local ADL officials for a breakdown on the number and type of anti-Semitic incidents in your area, and for leads on interfaith initiatives.

  • B’nai B’rith International

    B’nai B’rith International is a humanitarian, human rights and advocacy group in existence since 1843. Its Center for Human Rights and Public Policy fights anti-Semitism worldwide and speaks out on domestic and international policy matters of concern to Jews. B’nai B’rith’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C. The executive vice president is Daniel S. Mariaschin.

  • Jewish Defense League

    The Jewish Defense League fights genocide, defamation and anti-Semitism. It considers itself the most controversial of pro-Israel Jewish organizations and defends the actions of Dr. Baruch Goldstein and Rabbi Meir Kahane. It is based in Los Angeles.

    Contact: 818-980-8535.
  • Jewish Women International

    Jewish Women International advocates for the rights of women and children, including victims of abuse, in the Jewish community. It has offices and chapters around the United States. Loribeth Weinstein is executive director.

  • Jewish World Watch

    Jewish World Watch fights genocide and other human rights violations through education, advocacy and refugee services. It’s based in Encino, Calif. Michael Lieb Jeser is executive director.

  • Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa

    Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa is a human rights advocacy organization that works on behalf of Jewish refugees from those areas. It is based in San Francisco, with branches in Boston and Seattle. Sarah Levin is executive director.

  • Jewish Federation of North America

    The Jewish Federation of North America is an umbrella association for 155 Jewish federations and 300 independent Jewish communities in the U.S. It works for social justice and human rights. Its website includes a directory of member federations in North America.

Disability advocacy organizations

Educational organizations

  • NewCAJE

    NewCAJE, previously the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, is a transdenominational organization for Jewish educators in North America. NewCAJE works with all settings of Jewish education including day schools, complementary schools, camps, JCC’s, independent schools, afterschool programs and online programs. Rabbi Cherie Koller-Fox is the president.

  • Holocaust Educational Foundation

    The Holocaust Educational Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization founded by Holocaust survivors, their children and their friends to promote awareness of the Holocaust. The foundation sponsors teacher and faculty training, as well as educational programs for youth. It is based in Skokie, Ill.

  • RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network

    RAVSAK: the Jewish Community Day School Network works to advance and support Jewish day school education and educators. It encompasses 120 schools with 30,000 students and maintains a map and directory of member schools. Dr. Mark N. Kramer is executive director.

  • Jewish Educators Assembly

    The Jewish Educators Assembly represents teachers and administrators in the Conservative movement. Michael Schatz is president.

  • National Association of Temple Educators

    The National Association of Temple Educators works on behalf of Reform Jewish religious education. Rabbi Stanley Schickler is executive director.

  • Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education

    The Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education works to enhance Jewish day school education in North America. The partnership posts an extensive list of organizations also dedicated to that cause. Amy Katz is executive director.

  • Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools

    The Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools includes professional educators and lay leaders. It promotes excellence in Reform Jewish day school education. Dr. Jane West Walsh is executive director.

  • Torah Umesorah–The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools

    Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools, is an Orthodox organization. Rabbi Dovid Nojowitz is national director.

  • Torah.org

    Torah.org is a Jewish outreach program from Project Genesis. The organization reaches out internationally to educate on Jewish beliefs through resources and courses provided online. Email through the website.

    Contact: 410-602-1350.

Environmental organizations

  • Canfei Nesharim

    Canfei Nesharim (Hebrew for “the wings of eagles”) works to educate the Orthodox Jewish community about preserving the environment. Evonne Marzouk is the organization’s founder and executive director.

  • Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

    The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life concentrates on fuel economy and climate change as well as power plants and children’s environmental health. Its national partners are the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. It has offices in New York City and Washington. Jared Feldman is vice president and director of the Washington office.

  • Hazon

    Hazon is an organization promoting healthy Jewish communities in a variety of ways, including outdoor challenge and food programs. Based in New York, Hazon has developed bike and hike programs, and its food wing promotes community-supported agriculture in 18 communities, up from 10 in 2007. Other food programs include a curriculum, an annual conference and a blog. Nigel Savage is president.

  • Shalom Center

    The Shalom Center focuses on planetary ecological dangers from its offices in Philadelphia. It is associated with the Jewish Renewal movement, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow is director.

  • Teva Learning Center

    Teva Learning Center is a Jewish environmental education institute. It is nondenominational and provides educational service for participants from Jewish day schools, congregational schools, synagogues, camps and youth groups. Yishai Cohen is director of programs.

Humanitarian organizations

  • American Jewish World Service

    American Jewish World Service “works to realize human rights and end poverty in the developing world.” AJWS founded the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of more than 170 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations.

  • B’nai B’rith International

    B’nai B’rith International is a humanitarian, human rights and advocacy group in existence since 1843. Its Center for Human Rights and Public Policy fights anti-Semitism worldwide and speaks out on domestic and international policy matters of concern to Jews. B’nai B’rith’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C. The executive vice president is Daniel S. Mariaschin.

  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

    The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has worked since 1881 to provide rescue, resettlement and reunion services to Jews in need throughout the world and to other oppressed migrants. Its headquarters are in New York City. Mark Hetfield is president and CEO. Contact through the form on the website.

  • Jewish Coalition for Service

    The Jewish Coalition for Service promotes volunteerism among Jews as a fulfillment of tikkun olam, the Jewish concept of “repairing the world.” David Eisner is president and CEO.

  • Jewish Federation of North America

    The Jewish Federation of North America is an umbrella association for 155 Jewish federations and 300 independent Jewish communities in the U.S. It works for social justice and human rights. Its website includes a directory of member federations in North America.

Interfaith relations organizations

  • American Jewish Committee

    The American Jewish Committee is an international think tank and advocacy organization that works to identify and fight anti-Semitism and bigotry, protect human rights and protect Israel and Jewish life everywhere. Its executive director is David Harris. Contact via Jon Schweitzer, director of public affairs.

  • Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations

    The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations is an association of institutes that work to foster mutual understanding between Jews and Christians. Members are listed on its website. Dr. Ruth Langer chairs the council’s board. Contact through the form on the website.

  • International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

    The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews an organization designed to promote cooperation and understanding between Jews and Christians and foster support for Israel. Its founder and president is Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.

  • National Council of Synagogues

    The National Council of Synagogues includes representatives from the Rabbinical Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The council meets with other major faith groups, such as the National Council of Churches, to discuss issues and concerns. Rabbi Gilbert S. Rosenthal is the NCS executive director.

Israel and Palestine organizations

  • Ameinu

    Ameinu is a pro-Israel, Zionist organization based in New York City. It describes itself as progressive. Kenneth Bob is president. It maintains a list of chapters throughout the U.S.

  • American Israel Public Affairs Committee

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee was named by The New York Times as the most powerful pro-Israel advocacy group. AIPAC claims 100,000 members and is based in Washington, D.C.

  • Association of Reform Zionists of America

    The Association of Reform Zionists of America speaks on behalf of Israel for the Reform movement. Rabbi Joshua Weinberg is president.

  • Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace)

    Brit Tzedek v’Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) is a group of American Jews dedicated to a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Diane Kantor is executive director. It is based in Chicago and maintains a list of chapters throughout the U.S.

  • Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is an umbrella association of 51 Jewish organizations that fosters support for Israel among politicians, Jews and the broader community. It is based in New York City.

  • David Project Center for Jewish Leadership

    The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership describes itself as an educational nonprofit that focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Founder Charles Jacobs, who recently left the center, was named one of the 50 most influential Jews by Forward in 2008. The center is based in Boston and has offices in New York and Israel. David Bernstein is executive director.

  • Encounter

    Encounter introduces emerging Jewish leaders to the issues of Palestine and its people. Yona Shem-Tov is its North American co-director.

  • Hadassah

    Hadassah, the Jewish Zionist women’s organization, sponsors Israel tours mixing education, politics and religion.

  • Israel on Campus Coalition

    The Israel on Campus Coalition advocates for Israel on college campuses, monitoring for anti-Israel bias in media and in classes. Marjan Keypour Greenblatt is acting director.

  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs

    The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (formerly the American Jewish Public Affairs Committee), based in New York with offices in Washington, represents the organized American Jewish community, particularly in protecting the rights of Jews everywhere and in supporting a just and pluralistic American democracy. Ask Senior Vice President Martin Raffel how to reach representatives in the local chapters.

  • Mercaz USA

    Mercaz USA is the Zionist arm of the Conservative movement. It advocates for Israel and works to build ties between the Jewish diaspora and Israel. Janet Tobin is president. It is based in New York City.

  • Neturei Karta

    Neturei Karta is an anti-Zionist organization that opposes the existence of the state of Israel because its members believe that a sovereign Israel is contrary to Jewish law. Rabbi Dovid Weiss is associate director and is based in Monsey, N.Y. Contact via the form on its website.

  • StandWithUs

    StandWithUs is a pro-Israel advocacy group founded by Roz Rothstein, named one of the 50 most influential Jews by Forward in 2008. The organization maintains chapters by region as well as a youth branch, StandWithUs Campus, with several regional offices.

LGBT organizations

  • Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation

    The Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation is a program of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion that works to educate students – the next generation of Jewish leadership – about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and how to include them in organized Judaism. It maintains a list of synagogues that welcome and affirm LGBT people. The institute is in Los Angeles, and Joel Kushner is director.

  • Eshel

    Eshel is a support and advocacy organization for LGBT Orthodox Jews with groups in New York City, Israel and on the Internet. Miryam Kabakov is executive director.

  • World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Jews

    The World Congress of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Jews is an umbrella organization of 50 groups around the world that advocate for rights for LGBT people. The membership list includes links to local groups in the U.S.

  • Keshet

    Keshet is a Boston-based nonprofit that works for the full inclusion of LGBT Jews. It produced the documentary Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School and a companion curriculum and operates a “Safe Schools & Supportive Communities” program that targets young people. Keshet also maintains offices in Denver and San Francisco. Idit Klein is executive director.

Political advocacy organizations

Religious and cultural organizations

  • Beta Israel of North America

    Beta Israel of North America promotes and preserves Ethiopian Jewish history and culture. Beejhy Barhany is founder and director.

  • Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership

    Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, is a think tank dedicated to training Jewish leaders and enhancing spiritual and civic involvement in American life. Rabbi Irwin Kula is president.

  • Edah

    Edah is an organization of Modern Orthodox Jews who seek greater openness to the world than does traditional Orthodox Judaism. Edah was founded in 1997 and ceased formal operations in 2006, but its website continues to post useful contacts and information, including a lengthy list of speakers/experts and a library. Rabbi Saul J. Berman is director.

  • Footsteps

    Footsteps helps members of the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic communities who wish to leave them make the transition to mainstream Jewish life. Lani Santo is executive director.

  • Foundation for Jewish Culture

    The Foundation for Jewish Culture provides grants, awards and other opportunities to individual artists and scholars who it believes will advance Jewish culture and community. At present, the foundation does not have a staffed office.

  • Gateways

    Gateways is a nonprofit organization that works to fight assimilation by connecting Jews to Jewish life, religion and culture. It is based in Monsey, N.Y. Its founder and director is Rabbi Mordechai Suchard.

  • Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life

    The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Miss., works to bring educational and rabbinic services to isolated Jews and Jewish communities in a 13-state Southern region. Macy B. Hart is president.

  • Institute for Jewish Spirituality

    The Institute for Jewish Spirituality uses Torah study, prayer, mindfulness meditation, yoga and spiritual direction and retreats to nurture deeper spirituality among rabbis, cantors and lay people. It is based in New York City but now has a Northern California branch. Rabbi Lisa Goldstein, a Reform rabbi, is its executive director in New York.

    Contact: 646-461-6499.
  • Jews for Judaism

    Jews for Judaism is an international organization that aims to help Jews strengthen their heritage and counter attempts to convert Jews to other religions. It has branches in several cities, including Baltimore and Los Angeles.

  • Limmud NY

    Limmud NY works to promote Jewish learning and cultural celebration through an annual weekend of events in New York City. Sivie Twersky is its president.

  • Mechon Hadar

    Mechon Hadar works to revitalize community, prayer and study among young Jews. Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is director.

  • Milken Archive of American Jewish Music

    The Milken Archive of American Jewish Music takes as its mission to record and document 350 years of American Jewish music, both religious and secular. Neil Levin is the artistic director. The archive has offices in New York City and Santa Monica, Calif.

  • National Havurah Committee

    The National Havurah Committee is an umbrella organization for havurot, Jewish circles of fellowship, study and prayer. It helps Jews of all denominations and no denomination establish havurot in their areas. It is based in Philadelphia.

    Contact: 215-248-1335.
  • Reboot

    Reboot is a nonprofit organization that seeks to “reboot” Jewish traditions, particularly for young people, through salons across the country, journals, books and films. It is based in New York City.

    Contact: 212-931-0100.
  • ReclaimingJudaism.org

    ReclaimingJudaism.org offers seminars and Web-based resources on the application of Jewish spiritual practice for spiritual seekers and teachers. Rabbi Goldie Milgram is its founder and executive director. She is the author of Reclaiming Judaism as a Spiritual Practice: Holy Days and Shabbat.

  • Synagogue 3000

    Synagogue 3000 (S3K) is a national, not-for-profit institute dedicated to revitalizing and re-energizing synagogue life in North America.

Women's organizations

  • Hadassah

    Hadassah, the Jewish Zionist women’s organization, sponsors Israel tours mixing education, politics and religion.

  • Jewish Women International

    Jewish Women International advocates for the rights of women and children, including victims of abuse, in the Jewish community. It has offices and chapters around the United States. Loribeth Weinstein is executive director.

  • Jewish Women’s Archive

    The Jewish Women’s Archive works to chronicle the history of Jewish-American women. It is based in Brookline, Mass. It maintains on online archive, a blog and education guides and produces documentary films. Gail Twersky Reimer is executive director.

    Contact: 617-383-6752.
  • National Council of Jewish Women

    The National Council of Jewish Women is a faith-based nonprofit that works for women’s rights, reproductive freedom and child welfare through offices in New York; Washington, D.C.; and Israel. Linda Slucker is president.

  • Women of Reform Judaism

    Women of Reform Judaism represents more than 75,000 women in the Reform branch of Judaism, providing leadership training to its members as well as financial help for rabbinical students, youth programs and special projects. Its offices are in New York City. Rabbi Marla J. Feldman is executive director.

  • Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

    The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is the national organization of women members of Conservative synagogues. Its goals are to provide a voice for women in the Conservative movement and to strengthen the Jewish identities of its membership. Rita Wertlieb is president.

Youth organizations

  • B’nai B’rith Youth Organization

    The B’nai B’rith Youth Organization is an independent Jewish youth group for high school teenagers. It is no longer associated with B’nai B’rith, from which it split in 2002. Its focus is on developing future Jewish leaders and strengthening the Jewish identity of young Jews. It maintains a directory of chapters throughout North America. Matthew Grossman is executive director.

  • Foundation for Jewish Camp

    The Foundation for Jewish Camp promotes the experience of overnight summer camp among young Jews as a means of building Jewish community and identity. It maintains a directory of Jewish camps across North America. Jeremy J. Fingerman is chief executive officer.

  • Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life

    Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life engages young Jewish students in Jewish life, culture and religion during their college careers. It maintains a state-by-state directory of regional and local Hillel centers. Eric Fingerhut is president.

  • KOACH College Outreach

    KOACH College Outreach is a project of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism that works to keep Jewish college students connected to their faith and culture while on campus. It maintains a list of colleges with a KOACH presence. Rabbi Elyse Winick is director.

  • National Conference of Synagogue Youth

    The National Conference of Synagogue Youth is an organization of the Orthodox Union that focuses on connecting young Jews with their Jewish heritage, culture and religion. It has branches in 15 U.S. cities. Rabbi Micah Greenland is the international director.

  • National Ramah Commission

    The National Ramah Commission oversees the network of Ramah camps around the world. Ramah camps are a project of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The commission maintains a list of U.S. Ramah camps. Rabbi Mitchell Cohen is national director.

  • North American Federation of (Reform) Temple Youth

    The North American Federation of (Reform) Temple Youth sponsors a summer youth program, NFTY in Israel, and the Eisendrath High School exchange program.

  • Sigma Alpha Rho

    Sigma Alpha Rho is an independent Jewish high school fraternity with chapters throughout the Northeast and Canada. It maintains a directory of chapters. Its top officer is Justin Eric Saylor.

  • United Synagogue Youth

    United Synagogue Youth is a project of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism that works to instill in Jewish youth a sense of Jewish ethics and values and a sense of Zionism. It maintains a regional directory. Rabbi David Levy is director of teen learning.

  • Young Judaea

    Young Judaea is a youth program run by Hadassah with programs to strengthen identity and experience in young Jews. Among its programs are summer camps and trips to Israel. Simon Klarfield is executive director.

Other organizations

  • Bikkurim: An Incubator for New Jewish Ideas

    Bikkurim: An Incubator for New Jewish Ideas is an entrepreneurial organization that supports, develops and promotes new ideas in the Jewish community in North America. It has provided seed money and support to a range of groups, including those that encourage Jewish stewardship of the environment, promote Jewish heritage, produce Jewish music and engage in cross-cultural dialogue. Aliza Mazor is executive director.

  • Jewish Peace Fellowship

    The Jewish Peace Fellowship is based in Nyack, N.Y. It was begun in 1941 to defend the rights of conscientious objectors.

  • The Society for Humanistic Judaism

    The Society for Humanistic Judaism says it “offers a nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life.” It was organized in Detroit in 1969 and has since added chapters and affiliated congregations around the United States.

  • Judaism and Jewish Resources

    Judaism and Jewish Resources is Andrew Tannenbaum’s site for Shamash.org. The site compiles many Jewish resource organizations on one webpage.

Academics and scholars

American Jews and Judaism

  • Steven M. Cohen

    Steven M. Cohen is a research professor of Jewish social policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and a senior consultant to Synagogue 3000. He is one of the authors of the 2007 National Spiritual Communities Study and can discuss its findings on independent minyanim and havurot.

  • Ari Goldman

    Ari Goldman is a journalism professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City. He is a former religion reporter for The New York Times and is the author of several books on Jews and Judaism, including Being Jewish: The Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today and Living a Year of Kaddish. He can discuss major issues in Judaism, both in the U.S. and in Israel, where he is a frequent visitor, and the practice of Judaism.

  • Gregg Ivers

    Gregg Ivers is a professor in the school of public affairs at American University in Washington, D.C. He is an expert on constitutional law and is the author of To Build a Wall: American Jews and the Separation of Church and State.

  • Rebecca Korbin

    Rebecca Kobrin is an assistant professor of history at Columbia University in New York City. She specializes in the history of American Judaism and is at work on a book about Jewish migration to North America.

  • Jacob Neusner

    Jacob Neusner, professor of theology at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., co-edited Altruism in World Religions. He is the author of scores of books on Rabbinic Judaism and has encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Judaism and its texts. Neusner says altruism is best studied as a religious, not a secular, impulse. He is the editor of Evil and Suffering.

  • Jonathan D. Sarna

    Jonathan D. Sarna is professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. He is co-author of Religion and State in the American Jewish Experience and author of American Judaism: A History, which won the Jewish Book Council’s Jewish Book of the Year Award in 2004.

  • Beth Wenger

    Beth Wenger is an associate professor of American Jewish history at the University of Pennsylvania and author of The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America. She wrote the chapter titled “The Politics of Women’s Ordination: Jewish Law, Institutional Power and the Debate Over Women in the Rabbinate” in Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Branches of Judaism

  • Samuel Freedman

    Samuel Freedman is a journalism professor at Columbia University whose books include Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry. He can comment about rifts between different Jewish groups and denominations.

  • Samuel C. Heilman

    Samuel C. Heilman is a sociologist at the City University of New York in New York City. He is the author of Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Jewish Orthodoxy, which argues that the ultra-Orthodox are gaining the upper hand over the Modern Orthodox. He is also co-editor of the annual periodical Contemporary Jewry, produced by the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry.

  • Allan L. Nadler

    Allan L. Nadler is director of Jewish studies at Drew University in New Jersey. He was trained as an Orthodox rabbi but is now unaffiliated and writes and comments extensively on Orthodox Jewish life.

  • Jack Wertheimer

    Jack Wertheimer is the Joseph and Martha Mendelson Professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. The seminary is the central educational institution of the Conservative movement in Judaism. Among the dozen books Wertheimer has authored or edited are A People Divided: Judaism in Contemporary America, Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and Their Members and Jewish Religious Leadership: Image and Reality.

Contemporary Jewish life and history

  • Sylvia Barack Fishman

    Sylvia Barack Fishman is a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, which focuses on women in contemporary Judaism. She is the author of numerous books, including Jewish Life and American Culture (SUNY Series in American Jewish Society in the 1990s) and The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness. She is also an expert on Jewish identity, marriage and conversion.

  • Jay Geller

    Jay Geller is an associate professor of modern Jewish culture and religious studies at the divinity school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He has written on atheism and modern Judaism. He is also an expert on Judiams and modernity and the Holocaust on film and in literature.

  • Jeffrey S. Gurock

    Jeffrey S. Gurock is a professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University in New York City. He has written several books on American Jewish history and is an expert on American Jews who served in World War II.

  • Susannah Heschel

    Susannah Heschel is a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. She teaches courses in contemporary Jewish life and history and is also an expert on the Holocaust and on Jewish feminism.

  • Eugene Sheppard

    Eugene Sheppard is an associate professor of modern Jewish history and thought at Brandeis University in Boston and associate director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. He is an expert on the influence of European Jewish refugees on public life and academia in the U.S.

  • Steven J. Zipperstein

    Steven J. Zipperstein is a professor in Jewish culture and history at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. He is co-editor of a series of books titled Jewish Lives from Yale University Press. His research areas include modern Jewish history, and he teaches a course on Jews in the modern world.

Conversion and change of faith

  • Sylvia Barack Fishman

    Sylvia Barack Fishman is a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, which focuses on women in contemporary Judaism. She is the author of numerous books, including Jewish Life and American Culture (SUNY Series in American Jewish Society in the 1990s) and The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness. She is also an expert on Jewish identity, marriage and conversion.

  • Lynn Davidman

    Lynn Davidman is a professor of modern Jewish studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. She is an expert on those who leave Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, both in the U.S. and in Israel.

  • Louis Feldman

    Louis Feldman is a professor of classics and literature at Yeshiva University in New York City. He is an expert on conversion to Judaism and can discuss conversion from a historical perspective.

Education

  • Sharon Feiman-Nemser

    Sharon Feiman-Nemser is a professor of Jewish education at Brandeis University and director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. She says Jews need to find ways to help unaffiliated and disaffected Jews discover meaning in the faith. A major challenge, she says, will be to ascertain ways to make this ancient faith relevant to contemporary, post-modern Jews and give them good reasons to affiliate, study and identify with Judaism.

  • Robert Wexler

    Robert Wexler is president of the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism and the Brandeis-Bardin Institute) in Los Angeles. Under his presidency, AJU has grown to 10,000 students.

Ethics and philosophy

  • Kenneth Brander

    Kenneth Brander is a rabbi and a professor at Yeshiva University in New York City. He is an expert on Jewish thinking and end-of-life issues, cloning and stem-cell research.

  • Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus

    Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus is a professor of religion at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. He can discuss Jewish approaches to the treatment and rights of animals.

  • Reuven Kimelman

    Reuven Kimelman is a professor of classic rabbinic literature at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., where he is an expert on contemporary Jewish life and ethics and the moral meaning of the Jewish Bible. He says a major challenge facing Jews today is finding a cogent Jewish voice on contemporary moral issues.

  • Peter Ochs

    Peter Ochs is a professor of modern Judaic studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. He is an expert on Jewish philosophy and theology, the history of Jewish thought and Jewish ethics. Among the courses he teaches is one on Jewish theology after the Holocaust and another on belief and ethics after the Holocaust. He says Jews must recover their pride in what Judaism has to offer the world. Only then, he says, can they recover from a sense of victimhood, regain a sense of self-sufficiency and power and reinvigorate Judaism with hope and generosity.

  • David Shatz

    David Shatz is an adjunct professor of religion at Columbia University in New York City and a professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University. He is also the editor of Torah u-Madda, a journal about the interaction between Judaism and the broader culture.

Genealogy

  • Samuel Freedman

    Samuel Freedman is a journalism professor at Columbia University whose books include Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry. He can comment about rifts between different Jewish groups and denominations.

  • Arthur Kurzweil

    Arthur Kurzweil is a New York author, editor and publisher who helped start the first Jewish Genealogical Society. His books include the classic From Generation to Generation: How to Trace Your Jewish Genealogy and Family History.

  • Gary Mokotoff

    Gary Mokotoff is an award-winning author and leader in the field of Jewish genealogy. His books include the acclaimed Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Genealogy (co-editor) and Where Once We Walked: A Guide to the Jewish Communities Destroyed in the Holocaust (co-author).

  • Michael Stanislawski

    Michael Stanislawski is the Nathan J. Miller Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University in New York City. He was a featured speaker at a recent International Conference on Jewish Genealogy.

Holocaust

  • Richard Breitman

    Richard Breitman is a history professor at American University in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in the history of Germany and the Holocaust. He is editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

  • Debórah Dwork

    Debórah Dwork is director of the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. She is also professor of Holocaust studies and modern Jewish history and culture.

  • Saul Friedlander

    Saul Friedlander is a history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for his book The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945.

  • Susannah Heschel

    Susannah Heschel is a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. She teaches courses in contemporary Jewish life and history and is also an expert on the Holocaust and on Jewish feminism.

  • Steven T. Katz

    Steven T. Katz is a religion professor at Boston University, where he teaches a course on the Holocaust. He edited The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology and Wrestling With God: Jewish Theological Responses During and After the Holocaust. He has served as chair of the academic committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is the chair of the Holocaust commission of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. He is an American representative to the European Union’s International Task Force on the Holocaust.

  • Deborah Lipstadt

    Deborah Lipstadt is a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She is the author of History on Trial: My Day in Court With David Irving, about her experience of being sued for libel by Irving for calling him a Holocaust denier. She won the case, considered groundbreaking among Holocaust scholars. She is also a consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

  • Daniel Shwarz

    Daniel Shwarz is a professor of English literature at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He is the author of Imagining the Holocaust, which examined the problem of teaching about the Holocaust once the eyewitnesses are dead.

  • Elie Wiesel

    Elie Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor who teaches in the philosophy and religion departments at Boston University. The 1986 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is also a prolific author whose books include his Holocaust memoir, Night, and several other volumes about that period. 

Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

  • Herbert Druks

    Herbert Druks is a professor in the Judaic studies department at Brooklyn College in New York. He is an expert on the relationship between Israel and the United States and is the author of The Uncertain Friendship: The U.S. and Israel From Roosevelt to Kennedy and The Uncertain Alliance: The U.S. and Israel From Kennedy to the Peace Process.

  • Robert O. Freedman

    Robert O. Freedman is a visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University. He is an expert on Israel’s history and relations with other countries, especially the U.S., the former Soviet Union and the Palestinian people. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency on matters about Israel. He says a major issue Jews face today is the conflict between Orthodox Judaism and the rest of the American Jewish community. He can be emailed here.

  • Calvin Goldscheider

    Calvin Goldscheider is a professor of Judaic studies and sociology at Brown University in Providence, R.I. He is also a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Israel Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. He is the author of many books, including Cultures in Conflict: The Arab-Israeli Conflict and Studying the Jewish Future.

  • Kenneth Stein

    Kenneth Stein is a professor of contemporary Middle Eastern and Israeli studies at the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. He is one of the foremost authorities on the history of modern Israel and has written numerous books on the subject, including one in collaboration with former President Jimmy Carter.

Jewish-Christian relations

  • Yaakov Ariel

    Yaakov Ariel is a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Evangelizing the Chosen People: Missions to the Jews in America, 18802000, and teaches several courses on contemporary Judaism.

  • David Berger

    David Berger is a history professor at Brooklyn College who specializes in medieval Jewish history, Jewish-Christian relations, anti-Semitism, contemporary Orthodox Judaism, and the intellectual history of the Jews. He wrote a May 2004 essay in Commentary magazine titled “Jews, Christians and ‘The Passion.'”

Jewish law

  • Michael Berger

    Michael Berger is an associate professor at the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. Among his areas of expertise are the development of Jewish law and Jewish ethics and the relationship between Judaism and violence.

  • J. David Bleich

    J. David Bleich is a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Yeshiva University in New York City. He is an expert on Jewish law and bioethics and how Jewish law applies to contemporary issues. He is also conversant in how Jewish law intersects with the American legal system. He is the co-author of Jewish Bioethics and author of Bioethical Dilemmas: A Jewish Perspective.

  • Michael Broyde

    Michael Broyde is a professor of law and senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta. He edited the book Marriage, Sex and Family in Judaism.

  • Suzanne Stone

    Suzanne Stone is a law professor and director of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Yeshiva University in New York City.

Jewish museums

  • Ellen Smith

    Ellen Smith is a lecturer in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. She is also principal of Museumsmith, a firm that helps museums with exhibitions and historic site interpretations. She has helped mount numerous exhibits on Jewish culture throughout the country.

Jewish music

  • Judah M. Cohen

    Judah M. Cohen is a professor of Jewish culture and an assistant professor of folklore and ethnomusicology at Indiana University. He is the author of The Making of a Reform Jewish Cantor: Musical Authority, Cultural Investment. He was a fellow at New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, where he studied the “new” Jewish music and culture scene, including Jews and hip-hop and rap.

  • Marsha Bryan Edelman

    Marsha Bryan Edelman is an adjunct professor of music and education at Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pa. She is the author of Discovering Jewish Music.

  • Josh Kun

    Josh Kun is a professor of journalism and communication at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he directs the Popular Music Project at the Norman Lear Center. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit record label Reboot Stereophonic, dedicated to Jewish-American music. He is co-author of And You Shall Know Us by the Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past as Told by the Records We Have Loved and Lost.

  • Neil Levin

    Neil Levin is the artistic director of the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music in Santa Monica, Calif and a professor of music at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Jewish-Muslim relations

  • Mehnaz Afridi

    Mehnaz Afridi is an assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of Muslim-Jewish relations.

  • Reuven Firestone

    Rabbi Reuven Firestone is a professor of medieval Jewish and Islamic studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous books on Jewish-Muslim relations, including An Introduction to Islam for Jews and Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Judaism for Muslims.

  • Eboo Patel

    Eboo Patel is the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based international nonprofit that focuses on building an interfaith youth movement. He is Muslim and was a speaker at a Hebrew College event titled “The Future of Jewish-Muslim Relations: A Dialogue.”

  • Or Rose

    Rabbi Or Rose is an associate dean of the Hebrew College Rabbinical School and director of the college’s interfaith and social justice programs. He was a speaker at the college’s event titled “The Future of Jewish-Muslim Relations: A Dialogue.”

  • Eric Yoffie

    Rabbi Eric Yoffie is the president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Judaism and American politics

  • Michael Gottsegen

    Michael Gottsegen is a visiting assistant professor in the Judaic studies program at Brown University n Providence, R.I. He studies the relation between the Jewish religion and public and political life.

  • Suzanne Stone

    Suzanne Stone is a law professor and director of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Yeshiva University in New York City.

Judaism and the arts

  • Robert Abzug

    Robert Abzug is a professor of history and American studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He teaches a course on the impact of Jewish artists, writers and musicians on American life.

Judaism and sexual orientation

  • Rebecca T. Alpert

    Rebecca T. Alpert is a rabbi and an associate professor of religion and women’s studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn. She writes on baseball, queer culture and religion.

  • Gwynn Kessler

    Gwynn Kessler is an associate professor of religion at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, where she teaches a course on Judaism and gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer persons.

Mysticism

  • David Blumenthal

    David Blumenthal is a professor of Judaic studies at the Tam Institute of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. He is the author of two seminal books on Jewish mysticism, God at the Center: Meditations on Jewish Spirituality and Understanding Jewish Mysticism. Additionally, he is the author of The Banality of Good and Evil: Moral Lessons from the Shoah and Jewish Tradition. He notes that both perpetrators and rescuers often say they were just doing what was expected of them.

  • Jonathan Dauber

    Jonathan Dauber is an assistant professor of Jewish mysticism, Kabbalah and Hasidism at Yeshiva University in New York City. 


  • Sheldon R. Isenberg

    Sheldon R. Isenberg is an associate professor of religion at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He specializes in Jewish mysticism and comparative mysticism. 

  • Shimon Shokek

    Shimon Shokek is a professor of Jewish philosophy and mysticism at Baltimore Hebrew Institute at Towson University. He has written about Jewish mysticism, including the Kabbalah.

Secular and humanistic Judaism

  • Mitchell Silver

    Mitchell Silver is a lecturer in philosophy at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He is the author of Respecting the Wicked Child: A Philosophy of Secular Jewish Identity and Education. He says the most important issue facing American Jews today is maintaining a shared identity despite branch affiliations and secularism. 

  • Jonathan Steinberg

    Jonathan Steinberg is a professor of modern European history at the University of Pennsylvania. One of his specialties is secular Judaism in Europe and the U.S. 

Sports

  • Rebecca T. Alpert

    Rebecca T. Alpert is a rabbi and an associate professor of religion and women’s studies at Temple University in Philadelphia, Penn. She writes on baseball, queer culture and religion.

Synagogue architecture

  • Julian Henri Preisler

    Julian Henri Preisler is an archivist and genealogist in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia. He formerly ran a website about West Virginia Jewish history.

Women in Judaism

  • Joyce Antler

    Joyce Antler is a professor of American Jewish history and culture at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. She has written about images of Jewish women on television and in popular culture.

  • Sylvia Barack Fishman

    Sylvia Barack Fishman is a professor of contemporary Jewish life at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, which focuses on women in contemporary Judaism. She is the author of numerous books, including Jewish Life and American Culture (SUNY Series in American Jewish Society in the 1990s) and The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness. She is also an expert on Jewish identity, marriage and conversion.

  • Hasia Diner

    Hasia Diner is a professor of American Jewish history, Hebrew and Judaic studies and director of the Center for American Jewish History at New York University in New York City. She is co-author of Her Works Praise Her: A History of Jewish Women in America From Colonial Times to the Present. She says a major problem facing American Judaism is keeping alive the excitement, loyalty and intensity of Jewish commitments needed to sustain the Jewish community. 

  • Judith Hauptman

    Judith Hauptman is professor of Talmud and Rabbinic culture at Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. She wrote the article “Abortion: Where We Stand” for the journal United Synagogue Review.

  • Susannah Heschel

    Susannah Heschel is a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. She teaches courses in contemporary Jewish life and history and is also an expert on the Holocaust and on Jewish feminism.

  • Pamela S. Nadell

    Pamela S. Nadell is director of the Jewish studies program at American University in Washington, D.C. She is the author of several books on Jewish women and American Jewish history, including Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination 1889-1995. She teaches courses on American Jewish history, modern Jewish civilization, Jewish women’s history, the Holocaust and the history of Israel.

  • Vanessa Ochs

    Vanessa Ochs is the author of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices: CLAL’s Guide to Everyday and Holiday Rituals and Blessings. She is a professor in the department of religious studies at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She can talk about the role of the Internet in the contemporary Jewish dating scene, life cycle rituals for single people and the creation of rituals that acknowledge the place of single people in the community.

  • Riv-Ellen Prell

    Riv-Ellen Prell is a history professor and chair of the American studies program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She is an expert on women in Judaism and is the editor of Women Remaking American Judaism. She says Jews should be concerned with effectively understanding the meaning of change in Jewish life, including intermarriage, falling birth rates and decline of traditional forms of association like synagogues or federations.

  • Shuly Rubin Schwartz

    Shuly Rubin Schwartz is the Irving Lehrman Research Associate Professor of American Jewish History and dean of the Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Schwartz is an expert on contemporary Jewish history with a particular emphasis on the role of women. Her book, The Rabbi’s Wife: The Rebbetzin in American Jewish Life, won the 2006 National Jewish Book Award in the area of modern Jewish thought. 

Languages

Yiddish

Yiddish is the language of Ashkenazi Jews who typically descend from Jews who lived in Central and Eastern Europe. Yiddish is a German dialect with strong influences from Hebrew, Aramaic and Slavic languages as well as some vocabulary from Romance languages.

Hebrew

Hebrew is the language of Middle Eastern and North African Jews. For a time, Hebrew ceased to be used as an everyday language and mainly survived as a liturgical and rabbinical language (known as Classical Hebrew). In the late 19th and early 20th century, Hebrew was revived as an everyday language resulting in the birth of Modern Hebrew.

  • Rosalie Kamelhar

    Rosalie Kamelhar is a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies and director of the Hebrew language program at New York University.

  • Gallia Porat

    Gallia Porat is a lecturer in modern and biblical Hebrew at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. She has developed her own technique for teaching Hebrew to teenagers and adults. She has also taught Hebrew to new immigrants to Israel.

  • Vardit Ringvald

    Vardit Ringvald is a professor of Hebrew at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and is the director of a summer Hebrew language school run by Brandeis and Middlebury College in Vermont.

Ladino

Ladino, also known as Judaeo-Spanish, is the language of Sephardic Jews. It is a romance language derived from Old Spanish and heavily influenced by Hebrew and Aramaic.

  • Gloria Ascher

    Gloria Ascher is an associate professor of German at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., and the only American professor who offers regular college courses in modern Ladino.

  • Isaac Jerusalmi

    Isaac Jerusalmi is a professor emeritus of Bible and Semitic languages at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. He wrote the introduction to Stanford University’s digitized Ladino library.

Prominent pulpit rabbis

  • Morris Allen

    Rabbi Morris Allen heads Beth Jacob Congregation, a Conservative congregation in Mendota Heights, Minn. Allen is behind a push to make kosher food meet certain ethical standards, such as paying workers a fair wage. The result, Magen Tzedek, or “justice certification,” is gaining ground in many Conservative synagogues and households. He blogs about keeping ethically kosher.

  • Andy Bachman

    Rabbi Andy Bachman and his wife, Rachel Altstein, are leaders in the burgeoning emergent synagogue movement. They are founders of Brooklyn Jews, an informal congregation of young, urban Jews in the New York borough. In 2007, Andy became the head rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim, the borough’s largest Reform synagogue. He writes a blog that is widely read by young Jews.

  • Sharon Brous

    Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founder of IKAR, a Los Angeles-based progressive Jewish community focused sharply on social justice.

  • Barry Freundel

    Rabbi Barry Freundel is the leader of Kesher Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Washington, D.C., whose members include a U.S. senator and a number of other government officials. The congregation maintains an eruv in the middle of the nation’s capital.

  • Elyse Frishman

    Rabbi Elyse Frishman is a Reform rabbi and spiritual leader of Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, N.J. She served as editor of the Mishkan T’filah, only the fourth prayer book in the 150-year history of American Reform Judaism.

  • Laura Geller

    Rabbi Laura Geller is the principal rabbi at Temple Emanuel, one of the largest Reform synagogues in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was among the first class of women rabbis to be ordained in the Reform movement.

  • Sharon Kleinbaum

    Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum is a Reform rabbi who leads Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City, the world’s largest synagogue for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews.

  • Michael Lerner

    Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine and founder of the Tikkun Community, a peace and social justice movement. He is also a co-founder The Network of Spiritual Progressives.

  • Naomi Levy

    Rabbi Naomi Levy is the founder of Nashuva, a Jewish worship community in Los Angeles. Levy is widely credited with finding innovative and creative ways of engaging unaffiliated and disaffected Jews with their faith.

  • M. Bruce Lustig

    Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig heads Washington Hebrew Congregation, a Reform synagogue and the largest Jewish congregation in Washington, D.C. He is active in interfaith issues and helped organize what is called “the nation’s first Abrahamic Summit,” a meeting of Christians, Jews and Muslims for interfaith dialogue.

  • Rolando Matalon

    Rabbi Rolando Matalon heads the Conservative Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. He has been part of a team of rabbis that brought this synagogue from the verge of closing to a current membership of 1,800 households. He has brought his focus on social justice and peace to the forefront at B’nai Jeshurun.

    Contact: 212-787-7600.
  • Harold M. Schulweis

    Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis leads Congregation Valley Beth Shalom, a Conservative synagogue in Encino, Calif. He is the founder of the Jewish World Watch project, which works to raise awareness in synagogues about the genocide in Darfur. Among the many books he has authored, Evil and the Morality of God is considered a classic.

  • Toba Spitzer

    Rabbi Toba Spitzer is president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, the first openly gay woman to become its leader. She is the head rabbi at Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton, Mass.

  • David Stern

    Rabbi David Stern is a Reform rabbi who heads Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, the Southwest’s largest Jewish congregation. He was named by Newsweek magazine as one of the 50 most influential American rabbis in 2008.

  • Avi Weiss

    Rabbi Avi Weiss is the senior rabbi at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in the Bronx, an Orthodox synagogue. He originated the idea of “open Orthodoxy” – a progressive form of Orthodoxy that would expand the sources for interpreting Jewish law, support the state of Israel, expand the role of women, embrace pluralism and engage in political protest and activism.

Others of note

  • Yehuda Berg

    Yehuda Berg is an Orthodox rabbi and founder of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles. He is the author of The Power of Kabbalah, which popularized the ancient Jewish mystic text and its practices to many non-Jews. He has a weekly blog.

  • Sue Fishkoff

    Sue Fishkoff is the author of The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch. She is a frequent contributor to The Jerusalem Post and other Jewish media. She lives in Pacific Grove, Calif. Contact through the form on her website.

  • Jen Taylor Friedman

    Jen Taylor Friedman is one of the few known female Torah scribes in the world. Last year, she became the first female scribe to complete an entire Torah scroll, for the United Hebrew Congregation, a St. Louis Reform synagogue that commissioned it. She is also the creator of Tefillin Barbie, a version of the Mattel icon wearing a prayer shawl and sporting a Torah scroll. She is based in Brooklyn.

    Contact: 718-664-4296.
  • Elie Kaunfer

    Rabbi Elie Kaunfer is a co-founder of Mechon Hadar: An Institute for Prayer, Personal Growth and Jewish Study, an independent minyan in New York City that has led to a network of similar, postdenominational minyanim across the country. He was named to Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators.”

    Contact: 212-284-6913.
  • Daniel Sieradski

    Daniel Sieradski is the founder of Jewschool, a blog that covers everything from politics to religion to art from a Jewish perspective. It has 50,000 readers and contributors from 80 countries. He was named to Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators.”

  • Melissa Weintraub

    Rabbi Melissa Weintraub is a Conservative rabbi and co-founder/co-director of Encounter, a nonprofit that brings together Jewish and Palestinian leaders in an effort to foster better understanding and, eventually, peace. She was named to Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators.”

  • Joey Weisenberg

    Joey Weisenberg is the creative director of the Hadar Center for Communal Jewish Music. He is a mandolin player who is bringing ancient Jewish nigunim, or wordless rabbinic hymns, back into synagogue music. He was named to Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36: The Next Wave of Jewish Innovators” (scroll down).

Regional sources

In the Northeast

  • Roger Brooks

    Roger Brooks is a professor of Judaic studies at Connecticut College in New London, Conn. He teaches courses in rabbinic law, the Talmud and the Mishnah and has worked with the Holocaust Educational Foundation. 

  • Jon Levisohn

    Jon Levisohn is an assistant professor of Jewish education at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and assistant academic director of the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education.

  • Annelise Orleck

    Annelise Orleck is a history professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. She is an expert on Jewish-American immigrants, especially Soviet immigrants.

  • Yesodot

    Yesodot is a nonprofit that works to build community foundation and support for Jews in the Boston area who have disabilities or special needs. It also provides parental and sibling support.

    Contact: 781-647-5327.
  • Jeremy Dauber

    Jeremy Dauber is the acting director of the Columbia University Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, where he specializes in Yiddish and Yiddish literature.

  • Gershon Greenberg

    Gershon Greenberg is a professor in philosophy and religion at American University in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in Jewish philosophy and thought, especially in America.

  • Jonathan Helfand

    Jonathan Helfand was a professor of modern Jewish history at Brooklyn College in New York until his retirement in 2012. He specialized in French Jewry.

  • Rebecca Korbin

    Rebecca Kobrin is an assistant professor of history at Columbia University in New York City. She specializes in the history of American Judaism and is at work on a book about Jewish migration to North America.

  • David Ruderman

    David Ruderman is director of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also a professor of modern Jewish history. Contact 215-238-1290.

  • Alan Steinweis

    Alan Steinweis is a professor of history and Holocaust studies at the University of Vermont. He is an expert on the history of Nazi Germany and has edited a volume on the Holocaust published by Yad Vashem.

In the South

  • Martin Beifield Jr.

    Rabbi Martin Beifield Jr. leads Congregation Beth Ahabah, a Reform synagogue in Richmond, Va. He is an expert in Jewish-Christian relations and the impact of the Holocaust.

  • Andrea Greenbaum

    Andrea Greenbaum is an associate professor of English at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla. She is the editor of Jews of South Florida and is also an expert on Jewish graphic novels.

  • Jonathan Hess

    Jonathan Hess is director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Its faculty members are drawn from the humanities and social sciences.

  • Jack Kugelmass

    Jack Kugelmass is an anthropology professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he is also director of its Jewish studies center. He specializes in American and European Jewry, Israel and Jews in New York.

  • Sharon Miller

    Sharon Miller is the principal of Ben Gamla Charter School in Hollywood, Fla., the first publicly funded Hebrew-language school in the U.S.

    Contact: 954-342-4064.
  • Julian Henri Preisler

    Julian Henri Preisler is an archivist and genealogist in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia. He formerly ran a website about West Virginia Jewish history.

  • Kenneth Wald

    Kenneth Wald is a professor of political science at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he also teaches on American Jewish culture and society. He wrote the book Religion and Politics in the United States.

  • Oliver Leaman

    Oliver Leaman is a professor of philosophy and Zantker Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Kentucky and co-editor of Encyclopedia of Death and Dying, which describes a history of American funeral practices.

  • David Patterson

    David Patterson is a professor of Holocaust studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is an expert on the Holocaust and serves as an adviser to two U.S. Holocaust museums. His book Hebrew Language and Jewish Thought looks at the role of gratitude in Jewish thought.

  • Michael Weil

    Michael Weil heads the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. The federation is working to revitalize the local Jewish community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which cut the city’s Jewish population by one-third.

  • Lee Shai Weissbach

    Lee Shai Weissbach is a history professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. He is an expert on small-town Jewish life in America, especially in the South, where surveys show traditional observance tends to be lower than in other areas.

  • Henry Eaton

    Henry Eaton is a professor emeritus of history at the University of North Texas in Denton. He is an expert on the Holocaust and the history of anti-Semitism.

  • Jonathan Schick

    Rabbi Jonathan Schick is an adjunct philosophy and Jewish studies professor at the University of North Texas in Denton. He is an expert on Jewish education and has served as headmaster of two Jewish prep schools. He writes a monthly ethics column.

  • Shmuel Shepkaru

    Shmuel Shepkaru is an associate professor of Judaic history at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he teaches a course on Jewish mysticism.

In the Midwest

  • Rachel Baum

    Rachel Baum is an adjunct assistant professor and coordinator of the Jewish studies major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She teaches multiple courses on the Holocaust, contemporary American Jewish identity and Jewish feminism.

  • Judith Katz

    Judith Katz is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Among her areas of expertise is representation of Jews in the arts and popular culture.

  • Harold Loss

    Rabbi Harold Loss leads the 12,000 members of Temple Israel, a Reform congregation in Bloomfield, Mich.

  • Shaul Magid

    Shaul Magid is a professor of Jewish studies and religious studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. Among his specialties are Jewish ethics, and contemporary conceptions of Jewish religiosity, renewal and fundamentalism.

  • Anthony Michels

    Anthony Michels is an associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he teaches a course called “The American Jewish Experience: From Shtetl to Suburb.”

  • Deborah Dash Moore

    Deborah Dash Moore is director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She teaches a course in American Jewish history and is an expert on women in Reconstructionist Judaism. Her specialty is 20th-century Jewish urban history.

  • Gary G. Porton

    Gary G. Porton is a professor of religious studies, history and literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches courses in American Judaism, Jewish customs and ceremonies and the Holocaust.

  • Mark Roseman

    Mark Roseman is a professor of Jewish studies and history at Indiana University in Bloomington, where his specialties include the history of the Holocaust.

In the West

  • Norbert Samuelson

    Norbert Samuelson is a professor of religious studies at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he is an expert in Jewish philosophy and thought.

  • Mira Amiras

    Mira Amiras is a professor of humanities at San José State University in California. She teaches courses in Judaism, Zionism and the state and Jewish mysticism, among others.

  • Paul Burstein

    Paul Burstein is chairman of the Jewish studies program at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is an expert on the American Jewish community.

  • Carol Edelman

    Carol Edelman is an associate professor in sociology and social work at California State University, Chico. Part of her research and teaching focuses on Jewish response to the Holocaust and to 20th-century genocide.

  • Daniel Fink

    Rabbi Daniel Fink leads Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, a Reform congregation in Boise, Idaho. He is an expert on Jewish environmentalism.

  • Yechiel Shalom Goldberg

    Yechiel Shalom Goldberg teaches in the Jewish studies program at California State University, Long Beach, where he specializes in the study of Jewish mysticism.

  • Mendel Lifshitz

    Rabbi Mendel Lifshitz and his wife, Esther, direct Chabad Jewish Center of Idaho in Boise. The center is part of Chabad Lubavitch, a New York community of Hasidim.

    Contact: 208-853-9200.
  • David N. Myers

    David N. Myers is a history professor and director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies in Los Angeles. He is at work on a major history of the Jews of Los Angeles.

  • Stephen Pearce

    Rabbi Stephen Pearce leads Congregation Emanu-El, a Reform synagogue and San Francisco’s largest Jewish congregation.

  • Michael Weingrad

    Michael Weingrad is the first full-time professor of Jewish studies at Portland State University in Oregon. He is an expert on modern Jewish literature and culture.

Related source guides

This source guide was originally published, in part, by a generous grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, with the support and encouragement of Michael Cummings.