Unpacking American Orthodoxy: The Changing Character of Traditional Judaism

Written By: Steven Widnmueller, Ph. D. on November 4, 2015

The rise of Orthodox Judaism in America must be viewed as a modern phenomenon. Unlike the majority of the American Jewish community with its more liberal-focus, secular orientation, and aging population base, the Orthodox community in this country reflects a fundamentally different demographic image, social culture, and political orientation. Today, some analysts believe, “it is increasingly the most powerful denomination in Judaism.” In the 1980’s sociologist Charles Liebman offered the following observation about modern Orthodoxy, ”a strength and a will to live that will yet nourish the whole Jewish world.”[…read more]

2016 Election Blog #4 – Rules to Play By: The Twelve-Step Model of Political Organizing, the Pro-Israel as a Case Study

Written By: Steven Widnmueller, Ph. D. on October 21, 2015

The Wind Report - 2016 elections: Blog post #4As America approaches its “political season” advocacy groups and lobbying organizations see this as an opportunity to advance their agendas. In this survey, twelve political principles are introduced. These specific action steps demonstrate how policy organizations, in this case the pro-Israel community, play an essential role in political campaigns, permitting these advocacy institutions an opportunity to pursue their core interests:[…read more]

Pope Francis’ American Encounter: Re-inventing the Catholic Church and Beyond

Written By: Steven Widnmueller, Ph. D. on September 28, 2015

Pope Francis at 9/11 MemorialThe impact of Pope Francis’ visit to the United States may take years to fully assess. Will his intensive five-day East Coast trip re-energize American Catholics? Are his various social messages likely to alter the thinking of government and world leaders? Will the lives of those who attended events at which he spoke or participated be forever altered? What will be the impact of his message on inter-religious relations? What might American Jews learn from this unique and historic encounter?[…read more]

The Religious “Nones”

Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on September 25, 2015

The Religious NonesA growing number of individuals are declaring themselves as religious “Nones.” These are individuals who self-identify as atheists or agnostics or who indicate that they are disconnected from any formal affiliation with a religious community. The typical “None” in this society is male, young, white. In the 1990’s this group could be identified within the single digits. By 2007 some 16% of Americans described themselves as “Nones;” eight years later, that figure has increased to 21%, as an additional 7.5 million Americans have joined these ranks. Today, 33 million Americans have no formal religious affiliation. During this same period, the number of Christians in America has dropped from 78% of the population to 71% [read more]

The Wind Report 2016 Elections Blog #3: Ten Principles of Jewish Political Behavior

Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on September 22, 2015

the wind report 2016 elections blog #3Traditional Jewish political practices remain important in understanding voting behavior:
Principle One: The Jewish community views its self-interests to be directly tied to how successful it is in accessing and conveying its political agenda; this notion is directly linked to the course of Jewish history, where Jews were locked out of power. Today, for the first time in 2000 years, Jews possess political power, changing the character, substance, and scope of their political engagement. This investment by Jews in politics is reflected in[…read more]

Moving Beyond the Iranian Accords: Building a New Jewish Policy Agenda

Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on September 17, 2015

Moving forward the Jewish community can ill afford the continuation of the demonization of key political players, community leaders, and historically important institutions of importance to this nation and to the Jewish people.

An eight-fold strategy must now come into play, as America and its Jewish community moves past the debate and vote over the Iran Nuclear Accords. While some of the issues introduced below have a specific connection to the State of Israel, all of these proposals ought to be a part of the American Jewish community’s advocacy role in shaping the future of the United States in the Middle East and redefining our broader communal agenda:[…read more]

Musings for Rosh Hashonah, 5776

Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on September 7, 2015

RoshHoshanaIn some measure these days of our reflection offer us a moment of reprieve from a year filled with thunderous anger, immense pain, and moments of violent hate. This past year the Jewish calendar has been marked by the stains of anti-Semitism and by an environment marked by internal discord. Jews would be targets on the streets of Paris and elsewhere. But beyond these forms of external assault, we would be engaged with one another in own internal battles over the complexities and uncertainties of our political condition. Our sense of peoplehood this year would be diminished. The tense Jewish battleground would find us caught up in conflict with our brothers and sisters over the fate of the Jewish State. This ugly war carried on amongst us would play out within every dimension of our lives. And across the world in Tehran and beyond, mullahs, ayatollahs, and terrorists would be celebrating our people’s distress and trauma. In Washington, as elsewhere, politicians and pundits would cynically take advantage of our divisions. […read more]

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