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Date: 2017
Abstract: This study, which was produced by JPR on behalf of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, takes an in-depth statistical look at synagogue membership figures in the UK. Synagogue membership data have been gathered and analysed consistently over several decades, and constitute the best measure of Jewish communal affiliation in the UK that exists. They provide the only consistent indicator of patterns of Jewish affiliation and belonging over time, and are thus of particular interest to community leaders and planners. The report, authored by JPR researchers Dr Donatella Casale Mashiah and Dr Jonathan Boyd, finds that despite the fact that there are now 454 synagogues in the UK – the largest number ever recorded – synagogue membership numbers have dropped below 80,000 households for the first time since records began. Indeed, there has been a 20% decline over a quarter of a century, and a 4% decline since the last such report was published in 2010. However, the overall decline masks important developments at a denominational level. Critically, the sector that has declined most sharply is central Orthodoxy – broadly understood as the United Synagogue, the Federation and various independent modern Orthodox synagogues dotted around the country – which collectively have seen a 37% drop since 1990. This decline is partly due to disaffection, but it has also been driven considerably by natural decrease – more members dying than being born. In contrast, membership of strictly Orthodox synagogues is growing. Indeed, it has grown dramatically over time – by 139% since 1990. A generation ago, the strictly Orthodox comprised 4.5% of all synagogue members households; today they comprise 13.5%. This growth is driven almost exclusively by demographic forces – particularly, high birth rates in this sector of the community. Taken as a whole, Liberal, Reform and Masorti figures have been fairly stable over time. Liberal and Reform have both declined slightly since 1990, whereas Masorti has grown, albeit from a lower base. But this overall picture of stability is somewhat misleading: in reality, Liberal and Reform synagogues are both losing members at a similar rate to the central Orthodox ones, but unlike those central Orthodox ones, they are also attracting members from their religious ‘right’ to offset those losses.
Author(s): Sapiro, Philip
Date: 2016
Abstract: The use of geodemographic analysis has a long history, arguably stretching back to Charles Booth's Descriptive Map of London's Poverty, produced in 1886 and the published classification of areas has invariably been based on all residents. The work described in this paper, however, is novel in the use of geodemographic analysis to focus on a single minority group within a national census. This paper describes the development of a methodology which allows geodemographic analysis to be applied to unevenly distributed minority sub-populations, overcoming two particular issues: finding a suitable geographic base to ensure data reliability; and developing a methodology to avoid known weaknesses in certain clustering techniques, specifically distortion caused by outlier cases and generation of sub-optimal local minimum solutions. The approach, which includes a visual element to final classification selection, has then been applied to establish the degree to which the Jewish population in an area is similar in character to, or differs from, Jews living in other areas of England and Wales, using data from the 2011 census. That group has been selected because of the maturity of its presence in Britain — study of this group may point the way for examination of other, more recently arrived, sub-populations. Previous studies have generally assumed homogeneity amongst ‘mainstream’ Jews and have not considered spatial variation, separating out only strictly orthodox enclaves. This paper demonstrates that there are indeed distinct socio-economic and demographic differences between Jewish groups in different areas, not fully attributable to the underlying mainstream social geography, whilst also identifying a strong degree of spatial clustering; it also establishes the practicality of applying geodemographic analysis to minority groups.
Date: 2016
Abstract: Though the exclusion of contemporary Orthodox Jewish women from active roles in public worship and other central religious activities has been condemned as patriarchal oppression by feminists and lauded as freeing women for sacred domestic duties by Orthodox apologists, little research has been carried out on Orthodox women’s religious lives and self-understanding. This study uses participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and monitoring of community email lists and media to document women’s religious activities in London; to investigate the constraints that shape these activities; and to examine women’s exercise of agency and creativity within these constraints to shape a rich, changing, and sometimes contested set of spiritual opportunities. The study examines four spheres of action, defined by the intersection of two axes: communal-individual arenas and culturally sanctioned-innovative practices. Alongside culturally sanctioned activity such as synagogue attendance and observance of the sexual purity system, innovative and hitherto unknown practices such as berakhah (blessing) parties exist, besides more controversial attempts to participate in public worship, both in women-only services and mixed services (partnership minyanim). The patterns and transmission of women’s individual customs are also examined, elucidating their religious significance for women. In addition to recording new practices, the study documents two periods of accelerated change, in the early 1990s and from 2005 onwards. It suggests that Orthodox women may be divided into three permeable groups—haredi (ultra-Orthodox’), identitarian/traditionalist, and Modern Orthodox—and examines the worldviews and innovative techniques displayed by each group. Factors such as education, community pressure, and norms of the non-Jewish community combine with differing group outlooks to give a nuanced explanation of the rich variation within Orthodox women’s religious lives. The study provides a basis for cross-communal research into Jewish women’s spirituality and models the complex interplay and impact of social and personal factors on religious life.
Date: 2013
Author(s): Pinner, Hana
Date: 2006
Abstract: This philosophy addresses the complex educational issues arising in Anglo-Jewish education catering for a community which is rooted in two cultures: the Jewish-Orthodox and the Western-liberal, a community that incorporates all aspects of Western culture that do not conflict with Jewish law or its value system. Underpinned by diverse ontologies and epistemologies these cultures differ in many aspects, most significantly for educators, in their value systems and therefore in the hermeneutic understanding of the "excellences" to be designated as ultimate and proximate aims for the education. Whereas the liberal Western culture endorses anti-authoritarian, individual autonomy, the Jewish thesis endorses such only in areas for which Jewish law has not legislated. For all other, free choices are to be exercised against the divinely commanded value system. The National Curriculum, through which secular subjects are delivered, and Judaism both require holism in education. In both, all knowledge is to serve also as a vehicle for pupils' overall personal and social growth: the cognitive/intellectual, ethical, spiritual and physical. Since holism necessarily has to be governed by an overall organic quality of wholeness, in which all the educational aims permeate every area of education, it is axiomatic that contradictions in the aims cannot be accommodated within any specific educational structure. This unitary philosophy responds to the requirements of holism by establishing an educational structure which, in itself, is free of conflict. This is achievable due to the liberal National Curriculum's acceptance, qua being liberal, of non-public values to overlay the statutory political ones in the entire school's curriculum — which, for Jewish education is the Halakhic value system. A conflict-free philosophy, however, does not guarantee conflict-free development of pupils who live their lives within both the Jewish thesis and the all pervasive, multi-media imposed Western culture. The unitary philosophy sets out strategies for dealing with these conflicts within carefully structured programmes.
Date: 2008
Abstract: Objective To assess reasons for low uptake of immunization amongst orthodox Jewish families.
Design Qualitative interviews with 25 orthodox Jewish mothers and 10 local health care workers.
Setting The orthodox Jewish community in North East London.
Main outcome measures Identification of views on immunization in the orthodox Jewish community.
Results In a community assumed to be relatively insulated from direct media influence, word of mouth is nevertheless a potent source of rumours about vaccination dangers. The origins of these may lie in media scares that contribute to anxieties about MMR. At the same time, close community cohesion leads to a sense of relative safety in relation to tuberculosis, with consequent low rates of BCG uptake. Thus low uptake of different immunizations arises from enhanced feelings of both safety and danger. Low uptake was not found to be due to the practical difficulties associated with large families, or to perceived insensitive cultural practices of health care providers.
Conclusions The views and practices of members of this community are not homogeneous and may change over time. It is important that assumptions concerning the role of religious beliefs do not act as an obstacle for providing clear messages concerning immunization, and community norms may be challenged by explicitly using its social networks to communicate more positive messages about immunization. The study provides a useful example of how social networks may reinforce or challenge misinformation about health and risk and the complex nature of decision making about children's health.
Date: 2011
Abstract: Objectives. In Belgium, dominant ideological traditions – Christianity and non-religious humanism – have the floor in debates on euthanasia and hardly any attention is paid to the practices and attitudes of ethnic and religious minorities, for instance, Jews. This article aims to meet this lacuna.

Design. Qualitative empirical research was performed in the Orthodox Jewish community of Antwerp (Belgium) with a purposive sample of elderly Jewish (non-)Hasidic and secularised Orthodox women. In-depth interviews were conducted to elicit their attitudes towards (non-)voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Results. The research reveals diverse views among women in the community on intentionally terminating a patient's life. Absolute rejection of every act which deliberately terminates life is found among the overwhelming majority of (religiously observant) Orthodox (Hasidic and non-Hasidic) women, as they have an unconditional faith and trust in God's sovereign power over the domain of life and death. On the other hand, the views of secularised Orthodox women – mostly irreligious women, who do not consider themselves Orthodox, thus not following Jewish law, yet say they belong to the Orthodox Jewish community –show an acceptance of voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide but non-voluntary euthanasia is approached more negatively. As they perceive illness and death as merely profane facts, they stress a patient's absolute right towards self-determination, in particular with regard to one's end of life. Among non-Hasidic Orthodox respondents, more openness is found for cultivating a personal opinion which deviates from Jewish law and for the right of self-determination with regard to questions concerning life and death. In this study, these participants occupy an intermediate position.

Conclusion. Our study reveals an interplay between ethical attitudes on euthanasia and religious convictions. The image one has of a transcendental reality, or of God, has a stronger effect on one's (dis)approval of euthanasia than being (ir)religious.
Author(s): Freud-Kandel, Miri
Date: 2015
Abstract: Extract:

A striking feature of the debates associated with appointing a new chief rabbi in Britain at the end of the term of Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was a clear sense of the contribution the role makes to Jewish life both in Britain and more broadly. This was widely noted, also, in the specific praise and reflection on the achievements of the outgoing chief rabbi which accompanied his retirement. On both a national and international plane, the British chief rabbinate is perceived to have acquired a wide-ranging voice and influence. The reach of the office is seen to extend both to Jewish communities outside Britain and in a British context to the wider society beyond the Jewish community. The possibility of abolishing the post and replacing it with some sort of body that could serve in its place was given only the most cursory consideration.1 This was despite the fact that it is a role that has its origins in nineteenth-century Victorian Britain, when it was designed under Anglican influences to serve a very different community with markedly different needs.2 The instinct to retain the post in its current form also ignores the fact that the chief rabbinate itself has rather limited real powers, a product of its evolutionary development rather than being a particularly clearly thought out office from the outset. Moreover, the reality of the British chief rabbinate is that notwithstanding the varied types of “success,” however we may choose to define this notion, that different chief rabbis have enjoyed in Britain, it has also consistently been a cause of division and disagreement—as much a source of controversy as it has been a source for leadership and representation.
Author(s): Myer, Marc
Date: 2015
Abstract: It is no exaggeration to say that the United Synagogue is one of the Jewish community’s most
important institutions. I firmly believe the United Synagogue is essential to the future of the UK
Jewish community and I was privileged that the President and Trustees asked me to help them
conduct a strategic review of this august institution.
The decision to initiate a strategic review comes ten years on from the publication of Rabbi Saul
Zneimer’s report, “Transformation & Action”, and almost 20 years after Sir Stanley Kalms
conducted his review. It recognised that whilst the United Synagogue is, now, financially stable (a
very different situation to the one Sir Stanley looked at), it must look ahead to address the
challenges it faces and to meet the needs and challenges of future generations. The US must
clearly articulate its vision and align itsstrategy with corresponding delivery mechanisms. In doing
so, The US must clearly communicate what it stands for and what it provides to members.
This review also comes at an opportune moment, following Chief Rabbi Mirvis’ installation into
office and looking ahead to 2020, the 150th anniversary of the Act of Parliament that created the
United Synagogue.
The report that follows summarises and elucidates the conclusions of over nine months’ work by
a large team of talented volunteers and professionals.
Its principal finding is that the United Synagogue needs to redefine its synagogues as vibrant
homes of community that enrich our members’ lives. No longer can shuls solely be houses of
prayer. This is not a new idea but it has taken on a new importance as we seek to meet the spectre
of disaffiliation that haunts our community.
Date: 2011
Abstract: In the JFS case, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom held that the admissions policy of a Jewish faith school constituted unlawful racial discrimination because it used the Orthodox Jewish interpretation of who is Jewish as a criterion for determining admission to the school. A detailed discussion of the case is located in the context of two broader debates in Britain, which are characterized as constitutional in character or, at least, as possessing constitutional properties. The first is the debate concerning the treatment of minority groups, multiculturalism, and the changing perceptions in public policy of the role of race and religion in national life. It is suggested that this debate has become imbued with strong elements of what has been termed “post-multiculturalism”. The second debate is broader still, and pertains to shifting approaches to “constitutionalism” in Britain. It is suggested that, with the arrival of the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law, the U.K. has seen a shift from a pragmatic approach to constitutional thinking, in which legislative compromise played a key part, to the recognition of certain quasi-constitutional principles, allowing the judiciary greatly to expand its role in protecting individual rights while requiring the judges, at the same time, to articulate a principled basis for doing so. In both these debates, the principle of equality plays an important role. The JFS case is an important illustration of some of the implications of these developments.
Author(s): Freud-Kandel, Miri
Date: 2006
Abstract: In 1991, just as Jonathan Sacks was acceding to the post of Chief Rabbi, the United Synagogue, the largest synagogal institution in British Jewry, commissioned a report entitled "A Time for Change". This report identified the significant difficulties in which many of the Orthodox institutions of British Jewry found themselves: the United Synagogue itself, the Chief Rabbinate, and the Bet Din - its religious court. It suggested that the root cause of the problems was a shift away from 'minhag Anglia, a celebration of the twofold blessing of being Jewish and British'. This work examines the thought and influence of the three Chief Rabbis whose terms in office have begun and ended during the twentieth century. It follows the theological shifts that have occurred amongst the religious leadership of Orthodox Judaism in Britain and assesses the influence of factors such as immigration and the so-called 'Jacobs Affair' in effecting these changes. The Jewish community in Britain provides a model of a religious minority group's attempt to secure its survival in the midst of a host society that espouses alternative values derived either from secularism or an alternative religious system.
Through an in-depth analysis of the theology of Chief Rabbi Joseph Herman Hertz, this work identifies a paradigm that was established for Jews in Britain of a strong and confident Orthodoxy that champions interaction in the host society. The Chief Rabbinates of Israel Brodie and Immanuel Jakobovits were each influenced in different ways by the burgeoning influence of alternative models for Orthodox Judaism. This work considers how this facilitated the displacement of the community's fervour for unity with religious polarisation; and analyses how its religious leadership adopted a theology which seemed to call on Anglo-Jewry to forsake its ideology of meaningful interaction to secure its religious identity. 

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