The Impact of Denomination: Differences in the Israel-related Opinions of American Rabbis and Jewish Communal Workers

Publication Date: April 1990

Publisher: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Author(s): Steven M. Cohen; Gerald B. Bubis

Research Area: Culture and religion; Social conditions

Keywords: American Jews; Religious Denominations; Israel Advocacy

Type: Report

Coverage: United States Israel


Jewish professional communal leaders differ from the Jewish public in that they are more Jewishly knowledgeable, involved, and committed. This study reports on survey data collected in 1987 from these leaders — American rabbis and Jewish communal workers — subdivided along denominational lines. It confirms the near demise of any distinctive position of communal workers and underlines the importance of denominational or religious identity as a variable in predicting attitudes toward Israel. Analyzed areas of behavior include frequency of travel to Israel and contact with Israelis.

Attitudes investigated dealt with Zionist commitment, Israeli foreign policy and political personalities, the acceptability of public criticism of Israel, and religious pluralism. Generally, rabbis' views were more ideological, pronounced, and extreme than those of communal workers, while communal workers' opinions tended to the dovish or hawkish extremes more often than the corresponding denominational segment of the Jewish public. Thus, Orthodox rabbis are more hawkish than Orthodox communal workers who are in turn more hawkish than the Orthodox public. Similarly, among Conservative and Reform, the rabbis are more dovish than the communal workers who are in turn more dovish than their public.

In Jewish Political Studies Review, v.2:1-2, Spring 1990, p.137-162.