Written By Steven Windmueller on April 18, 2016
Something is happening within American society where the political climate in this nation is changing. What we are observing among some of our citizens seems to involve a totally new and different perception about what America may represent. This transformation is redefining our politics.
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on April 13, 2016
So, you thought your vote was anonymous! Not quite so. In fact since the early years of this decade, a new electoral science has emerged that allows politicians and their advisors to know exactly how you are likely to vote. As early as 2006 Democratic operatives would establish a data-oriented operation known as Catalist in order to focus on liberal voters, labor unions, and other progressive-based organizations, identifying their political passions and orientation.…read more
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on April 4, 2014
As key funders gather this week in San Diego to assess the Jewish and American landscape, a number of key factors are emerging that will generate a profound and sustaining impact on the “state” of our nation and its Jewish community. For those who help to set the financial agenda and institutional priorities of the American Jewish enterprise, indeed there are some sobering and challenging new realities associated with our society and its future.…read more
Written By Steven Windmueller,Ph.D. on March 29, 2016
In my work with congregations and organizations, invariably the most pressing issue involves the issue of outreach. Namely, how do we retrieve folks who have left the community or who have yet to enter institutional life? The fastest growing sector in Jewish life is represented by the Religious “Nones,” folks who have “dropped out” from formerly affiliating with the community.1…read more
Written By George T. Caplan and Steven Windmueller on March 30, 2016
This election cycle reminds us of the aggressive xenophobia and bigotry embedded in our society. Sadly, the American-Jewish community has withdrawn from the national conversation involving racial and other issues that must be addressed if we are to have a just society.…read more
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on March 25, 2016
As each presidential campaign unfolds, there are always news stories and editorials suggesting that a “shift” is underway among Jewish voters. In today’s newest Gallup poll, once again Jewish Americans appear to remain solidly embedded within their traditional political base, the Democratic Party:…read more
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on March 23, 2016
The AIPAC Policy Conference is truly a unique American Jewish happening! And if one combines the forthcoming elections with this annual AIPAC ritual, it adds an additional level of intensity.
The magnificent “Foursome” were with us! Clinton, Kasich, Trump and Cruz would all make their appearance. Only Sanders elected to stay away, preferring to deliver his “pro-Israel” address in Utah rather than in Washington.
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on March 14, 2016
This election contains a little (or in some cases) a lot of everything! There have been Bernie’s caravan of young people and Ted Cruz’s evangelical supporters. Then, of course, there is the phenomenon of Donald Trump! (Earlier commentaries in this series, in particular blog numbers 7 and 12 addressed the “Trump candidacy” while others, in a more generic manner, dealt with his impact on this campaign.)…read more
Written By Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on March 3, 2016
As it begins to take form, the Republican Party’s nominee may well be Donald Trump. What will happen to the Republican Jewish vote in November? For some, it may represent a second “Yom Kippur” where some in the Jewish Republican camp will “abstain” this year by simply “fasting”, electing not to cast a vote. Sitting this one out maybe a form of “teshuvah,” repentance for failing to mobilize early enough to have denied the nomination to “the Donald”!…read more
Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on February 18, 2016
As this nation prepares for the 2016 Presidential campaign, this country is once again on political overload, as candidate commercials begin to interrupt sitcoms, political party debates dominate office conversations, and as well as blogs and twitter accounts flood our computer screens with messages offered by these candidates. At the same instance, American audiences are being asked to consider such policy questions as containing ISIS, battling international terrorism, and managing the Syrian refugee crisis while creating a coherent immigration policy. These international concerns are joined together with an array of domestic and family value issues to complete the political landscape.…read more
Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on February 17, 2016
Our community conducted its last population study in 1997. We learned a good deal from it about our community, in particular vital information about those in need of community services, many of whom were living at or below the poverty line. The study pointed to the doubling of Los Angeles’ Jewish senior population within a 20-year period. In a city as dynamic and changing as Los Angeles, don’t we need to know more about our community today?…read more
Written by Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on February 22, 2016
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) recently issued its annual report on hate in America. Mark Potok, the editor of the report, noted that there is “enormous rage in the electorate, the growth of hate groups, and also hate speech in mainstream politics to an extent that we have not seen in decades.”…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on February 14, 2016
With the announcement over the weekend of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (79), a new dimension has been added to the already topsy-turvy Presidential campaign. The conservative justice represented the intellectual and ideological base of conservative political thought not only on the bench but also within the Republican Party. His ideas were crafted on the basis of defining the “origin intent” or construction of the Constitution….…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on February 8, 2016
—Twelve principles of American Jewish political practice are introduced here as a way to provide a roadmap to understand the nature and character of the Jewish community in this election year.
—Jews provide significant financial support to both political parties and to many candidates. Some analysts project that as much as 50% of all monies raised by Democratic presidential candidates are from Jewish funders; similarly, 25% of the Republican donor base is comprised today of major Jewish contributors.
—Jewish voters enter the political fray with a broad range of interests. An AJC study of the major concerns of American Jews conducted in August 2015 found the “U.S.-Israel Relationship” scored fifth among the primary contending political and economic issues, noted by 7% of respondents.[…read more]
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on February 1, 2016
One of the most frequent questions I receive on the lecture circuit involves the “Jewish” credentials of Senator Bernie Sanders. Last October, the Senator did an interview with The Forward focusing on his Jewish upbringing, but that piece would only provide certain basic information on his early life1. Much remains to be both asked and assessed when one examines the Senator’s Jewish story!
How has Sanders Jewish upbringing informed his politics? In what ways does Sanders appeal to the Jewish electorate? And finally, is his candidacy “good for the Jews”?[…read more]
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on January 12, 2016
Possibly the most significant social and structural transition taking place within the Jewish institutional world is the departure of a significant part of the “middle sector” of Jewish families and singles from the communal system,in favor of alternative models of participation and engagement. This pattern of disaffiliation is accompanied by the rise of the Millennials and that generation’s disconnect from established institutional loyalties.…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on January 11, 2016
Last week, the media carried what on the surface appeared to be an insignificant story on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s announcement of plans to shut down its Philadelphia consulate, along with four other closings involving embassy and consulate services in the Caribbean and Europe.[/caption]Last week, the media carried what on the surface appeared to be an insignificant story on the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s announcement of plans to shut down its Philadelphia consulate, along with four other closings involving embassy and consulate services in the Caribbean and Europe.…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on January 5, 2016
Can Jewish institutions, such as federations and national agencies, carry forward a consistency of message that allows its brand to be understood and embraced?
When the film “The Force Awakens” opened this past month, we were reminded that Disney had once again reasserted its position as a premier film maker, accompanied as well by its supporting theme parks, merchandise, publishing, and television holdings. There is much that Disney does “right” that can provide to the nonprofit sector, and more directly to the Jewish community, some particularly valuable leadership tools and operational insights:…read more
Written by: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on January 4, 2016
While there will be Jewish supporters of Donald Trump, his rise in the polls, his unsettling language, his controversial messages, and even his disconcerting comments made recently before a Jewish audience have left many Jews unsettled and possibly even alarmed. Yet, why has he been so successful in reflecting the concerns of American voters? Why is his campaign creating concerns for many within our community?…read more
Written by: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on December 15, 2015
Civility and consensus have given way to name-calling and political separation.
Americans are angry. Many feel that their government doesn’t work, while others believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. For some their anger is about feeling marginalized in their own society, as immigrants and others are seen as threats to this nation’s values and its character.…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. on December 7, 2015
This is a second article as part of a series that Dr. Windmueller is preparing on Jews and American politics; the initial story, Jewish Political Conservatism: The Emergence of Republican Jews, appeared on these pages on November 24, 2015.)…read more
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on November 24, 2015
Jewish conservative thought has deep roots in the American political tradition. In more recent times particular emphasis has been given to the presence and growth of Jewish Republicans, sparking a renewed discussion of the place of conservative political ideas within contemporary Jewish life and within American society. Today, Jews who are Republicans must be seen as an active component of the Jewish communal story.…read more
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
Written By: Steven Widnmueller, Ph. D. on October 21, 2015
As 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]
Written By: Steven Widnmueller, Ph. D. on September 28, 2015
The 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]
Written By: Steven Windmueller, Ph. D. on September 25, 2015
A 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]